As the Super Bowl began tonight, Rob was finishing his Tour of Sufferlandia, nine LONG days of intense workouts on the bike trainer.  For those of you who contributed to the Davis Phinney Foundation and supported Rob’s efforts to raise money for Parkinson’s research, we thank you so much.  With your help, he exceeded his donation goal.  We appreciate your generosity and friendship. 

As for Rob, he is more than a little happy to be done with the trainer for a while.  “I just want to go outside,” he said.  I don’t have the heart to tell him that rain is in the forecast for most of the week.

Maybe I can talk him into going for a run with me.  

Yesterday, I headed over to Stokes County for a 10-mile trail race called Up the Creek, and it was.  There were about eight creek crossings, most of which were covered in thick sheets of ice.  Nothing like a gang of trail runners trying to cross thick ice without breaking through, sliding or generally injuring themselves or, worse, someone else. 

The temps were actually pretty good yesterday.  It was chilly when we pulled up to the parking area, but the sun was out, and by the 10:00 start, things were starting to thaw.

The Dan River—notice the small ice floes.

But even with warming temperatures, the trails along the creeks and in the shade, were still covered with snow and ice.  The rock steps leading up to the waterfalls were particularly icy, and while my friend Jason probably leapt across them like the ninja trail monkey that he is, I was pretty pokey making my way up the mountain.  I kept thinking, “Coming back down will be even worse,” and I was right. 

By the time, I finally got to the top of Hanging Rock, the sun was bright and warm, but then we had to go back down, and in my “old” age, I must be getting both slower and more cautious because it took me 11 minutes longer to get back down than it did to get up.   It will not go down as one of my best race performances, but man, it was beautiful, and I had a great time.

Here are some lessons I re-learned yesterday:

  1. One should train for these kinds of things.  In a past life, I was both pretty fast and could run over 40 miles at a pop.  Now… well, now, it’s a different story.  I’m slow and can’t run very far.  Or I haven’t run very far.  Whatever.  The point is yesterday’s race was only the second longest run I’ve done in… oh,… a year.  I guess one way to look at this is that when you’ve run a load of miles over 17 years, you learn how to tough it out even when you shouldn’t.  I ran 10 miles because I know how to, not because I was prepared to.
  2. They make trail shoes for a reason.  I asked Derek, the race director, if there might be a “You’re a dumbass for wearing road shoes today” award because I thought I might make an excellent candidate.  He said, “Yes!  And you win.”  My only prize for the day. 
  3. I love trail running!  Even when I am completely unprepared and have made very poor footwear choices, there’s nowhere I would rather be on a Saturday morning than running up a mountain, the sun coming through the trees and warming my face.  What a blessing.

I also left feeling (besides embarrassed by my novice mistakes and lack of preparation) a little more excited about running again.  I placed 8th in the women’s race (I’m not telling how many women were actually running, but there were more than eight), so that was OK… considering.  Running has been really hard for me lately.  My hamstrings are tight, my schedule is full, and it’s winter—none of these things have helped kindle my fire.

I know better than to write grand plans here– perhaps I should because then I’d feel obligated– but truth told, I don’t know what I want to do in terms of my training and racing.  Some days, and weeks, are easier than others.  All I know for sure, right now, is that I really like running in the woods– hard when I feel like it and easy when I just need to get fresh air and move my legs.  I’m also really enjoying my much more regular yoga practice.  Right now, my goals don’t stretch much beyond upping my mileage, gaining greater strength, flexibility and balance, and enjoying time on the trails.  And finding my next trail race.

Oh, and buying a new pair of shoes.