In which I flex my mountain goat muscles and discover them to be lacking.
My legs have not been this sore in ages.
Long-neglected lateral muscles in my hips, shins, ankles, and feet have spent the past 48 hours protesting their sudden call-to-arms.
My shoulders and triceps are weeping at the prospect of tasks more basic than opening the refrigerator.
Even my quads, which get plenty of attention on a regular basis, are still whining about Sunday.
What was the amazing workout, you ask?
No, not some race.
Not a Jillian Michaels video.
And obviously not strength training or yoga.
It was a simple trail run.
Let me rephrase that.
It was a real, true, no frills, mud-slinging, snow-scooting, river-fording, shoe-sucking, bushwacking, rambling, gambling, scrambling trail experience.
When I agreed to meet up with some of the runner folks I met at the race on Saturday, I anticipated from their description that this trail run would be less like running and more like “riking” (defined at eatdrinkrun as “running + hiking. “)
I was not disappointed.
I think it took our ragtag group of eight — a handful of sturdy guys, one high schooler, one other girl, and me — about two and a half hours to cover nine miles. Obviously, this included some stop-and-chat points, and I knew from the start that any attempt to keep a steady pace or worry about mileage would be wasted brain space.
If I had to describe the physical requirements of this experience, I would say that it was a combination between a soccer game, mountain climbing, gymnastics balance beam, and steeplechase. Occasionally we would stop to regroup or slow down to navigate more technical pieces of the trail, which allowed my heart rate to calm down. Whenever we found a flat portion of trail, however, we were bombing along at a solid clip.
I had a few moments of whiny internal frustration, particularly with the downhills.
The others were pros on these downhills: all spritely and agile — part-mountain goat, part-Indiana Jones — leaping effortlessly across scary precipices, bounding through thick, spiky patches of Devil’s Club, and nonchalantly somersaulting with fancy triple-axle backflips while negotiating any particularly harrowing piece of trail.
Meanwhile, I was 50 feet back, wimpering, wind-milling, wobbling, timidly scooting down on my butt and crab-walking through all areas presenting a high probability of getting punked by gravity.
I was pitiful. But on the uphills, at least, I held my own.
My favorite part of the run was this last, gargantuan hill. Other folks wisely stopped and walked, but I knew the run was almost over, so I decided to floor it up the hill and deal with the consequences later. One-quarter of the way up, the incline reduced my pace to a pathetic trickling jog. It burned. (It still burns). I finally found the top and was greeted by another infuriating downhill, and soon a few of the others came leaping by me like graceful ballet dancers as I bumbled clumsily down the rocky, slippery decline.
When I returned home, soaked, muddy, shivering, and hungry, I discovered with interest that my toenails were all blue with cold from having apparently forded one too many creeks and shoe-suckin’ mudflats.
It was grand.
Next time I will wear warmer socks.
How are your trail running muscles? Mine need work. On the road I can outrun a fair number of folks, but on the trail I’m comparatively weak. I’m excited to add these weekend group trail excursions to my running life.
Have you ever competed in trail races?