Thursday, November 27, 2008 by Daniel

Thanksgiving, part I: The Trail Run

I've always been attracted to the idea of trail running. I've been a hiker all my life, but lately I haven't done it much because A) in order for it to be worth anything as exercise, you've got to go a long way, which takes a LONG time, and B) long, slow distance stuff is kinda anathema to CrossFit. However, trail running neatly sidesteps (ha!) both those problems. I've never done it, though - only recently have I come to actually think of running as something that *I* do, and not just other, crazier people with healthier knees, better cardiovascular systems and snazzier shorts.

So it was with a combination of excitement and trepidation that I approached today's special Thanksgiving Day Trail Run that Max organized. Excitement to finally be trying this, and anxiety about running on uneven and potentially slippery surfaces. Not to mention that I'd be running 5k, which is three times the longest amount I've ever run before this (I did say I'm not a runner), and it would involve some pretty serious hills - another first.

Yeah. Sucks, right?

5K - 25:12


Seriously. It had all the endorphins and challenge of exercise, all the beauty of a redwood park in the breaking fog, and none of the hassle of running on sidewalks or tracks (cars, dust, asphalt).

My path was in three parts. First came East Ridge trail, a fire road along the (duh) eastern ridge of the park. Ups and downs, but nothing too dramatic. Then came Prince Trail, which was really just a cut down to the valley floor - very steep, very short. Then came Stream Trail, which went up the center of the valley back to the northern Skyline entrance, where we started. The first half of stream trail was like that photo above - flat, wide, soft, dark, quiet, through tall redwoods. Then came the Up.

I learned two valuable lessons today. 1) Trail running is really fun, and 2) Running uphill is REALLY hard. I don't know the exact numbers, but some googling tells me it's about a 600' climb. I ran every step of that motherfucker, 'cause I swore I would, but DAMN.

I don't know if 25 minutes is a good time for this run, but the simple fact that I did it, and that I ran the whole thing, fills me with a great sense of accomplishment. It was a great experience.

The ending was complicated somewhat because Rebecca, who had started WELL ahead of me, was not back at the parking lot, and I didn't think I'd passed her. Which meant she'd either gotten lost, or I HAD run right by her and not even noticed, which would pretty much make me an asshole. I waited for probably 10-15 minutes, and then got worried enough to start running back the other direction. Thankfully, she was only a quarter mile or so down the trail (she had taken a wrong turn), so everything turned out fine.

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