Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Runners Dilemma....

Today is Thursday, June 10th, 2010 and as I sit here looking at the monitor on which I am typing, I can't help but think of what todays run will bring. Am I going to venture on a new single track through the mountains of Reno? Or is today going to be another speed session with dry heaving and burning on the city streets? Is the only company for that hour of ASICS pounding going to be the thoughts in my head? I have no answers for any of those questions. That's part of the mystery and lore of running: What will today bring? The first reason for all of these recent thoughts and questions happens to be the fault of my parents. Actually, my mother in specific! If she hadn't broke her foot, then she wouldn't have been laid on the table with the surgeon slicing her open. What in the world does that mean? Well, to take that a little bit further, I could blame it on Dr. Lundeen who is the aforementioned surgeon. Why would I be blaming my running dilemma on the doctor who helped me get back to running form? It has to do with his recommendation of the book "Born To Run". Oh, so you know this book huh?! Yeah, well it has inspired me to say that Scott Jurek is the ultimate stud! Caballo Blanco seems like somebody that I could easily befriend. Whoa there turbo....back to the point here! Gees, I almost blew it there.
So here is the first question that I sit and ponder.... Trails vs. Roads??? Let me give you a little background on my running career to begin this little argument. Background, background, oh wait, there is no background! One day I decided to run and that was the beginning of the story or....the beginning of the end, as some would say. Running has taken a front seat to many aspects of my life. I wake up and pack my running bag before eating, drinking, showering, getting fully dressed even. I eat to run and.....well, sometimes, I run to eat! Its one of those vicious cycles, you know. I know that I'm not the only one who, every now and then, likes to over-indulge on the sweets(sidenote: getting lost for 13 miles in New York was a good thing on that day). Okay, back on course or more accurately put...back on the trail here.
Trail racing/running was never really something that I enjoyed. Why risk rolling your ankle, hitting a tree, running off course and being injured? Not a good idea; Im a big enough pansy about my legs being hurt as it is. None of that made any sense to me. I would stick to the roads where the surface was smooth and there were other people around to keep my mind occupied as running hadn't become my life yet. Look at that car driving by! Wow, what are they listening to on the radio? Another runner ahead?, I better catch him/her to see if I can handle it. This is all evidenced by the races I had run....Sedona half marathon which was difficult but was on the aspahlt, Los Gatos half marathon down at sea level was fast but, once again, on the road, Rock N River half marathon(road), 10ks and 5ks, 8ks and more....So you have the visual right? Where there was a road, that is where I would be found. Where am I going with this mumbo jumbo?
Here is where I am going... Folsom, California and the Winter of 2009. Breakout Racing, Diane Cressey is the fearless leader, was doing a winter trail series down there in the Folsom area for local runners and the crazies who would drive from other cities. The drive to Folsom from where I live is only 2 hours so it made these races very appealing to my running mind. Different distances(3 to 13 miles, points standings(overall and age group), fun trails with weaves, turns, rocks, trees, branches(which never really came into play for myself), competitive trail runners, etc, and..... a new challenge for my running. How come it took me so long to realize that I was a trail runner trapped in a midget street-runners body? Man, this was a blast! My heart was pumping like it was going to explode at times, my eyes scanned the ground like a hawk looking for any advantage, the smile on my face was not that of pain and grimmace but of happiness and content with the challenge of conquering such runs with speed and power. No way was there going to be a course that dominated me! However, the Beals Point Long Course had my "unicorn". The "Water Tower Hill" brought me to my knees with such humility the first time that I had been conquered. A total of three times I made the trek up this hill and finally was able to reach the top without pain, the pain where you feel your temples throbbing, sweat dripping all over, and thighs burning where you can hardly stand. This was a defining moment in my trail running!
Seriously, give me 2 hours on a trail with nobody around and I will run. I will run and run with nothing on my mind and no particular place to go. Pouncing over the streams, hunkering through those hills, barreling down the sandy mountain side at top speed , hopping over rocks and dodging trees(which Chris will tell you that I suck at doing{sidenote: scar on left thigh}) brings such a joy and enthusiasm to running that a lot of running people never feel. I feel like the runners in "Born to Run" while running the trails. Standing on top of a mountain that you have just run up and looking down at the trail with awe is unspeakable. Breathtaking! So breathtaking that you wish your friends and family could see it and feel the same emotion. Can you get that same feeling standing at a street light waiting for it to change green again? No way in Hell!! The secret of trail running isn't in the speed, like the road racing; it isn't even in the perfect stride, like road racing; it isn't the competition either, like the road racing. What is it then? What makes myself and other runners enjoy the trails so much? Its the comraderie of being on the same trail that's only a foot wide. Its the feeling of being one with nature and using your feet to get somewhere. There is no step that is equaled or matched by your shoes. You will never run the same course/trail twice no matter how many times you really run that course.
Well, apparently the bias side of trail running decided to come into play and take over my little mind. This is the question that, Im sure, I have just answered to myself while writing this here little blog. I am definitely not opposed to running on the roads and racing them whenever possible but it seems that my heart relies on the rocky relationship brought on by trail running.
Until next time.....Have a great run! :)

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