I went trail running today. But there were a few things that happened in between last week's rainsuckfest and this week's leg murder.
I did a little ninja running after work one night.
Black and white cookies (inspired by the impending snowstorm in NYC):
I took a snapshot on my phone of the trail map before I left as reception can be kind of spotty that far outside of the city.
By mile 0.3, I'm huffing like I've never run before. My lungs are on fire, my legs are clunky, and I'm rethinking my brilliant plan. I get to 0.9 miles before I stop, look at the trail map, take a sip of water, catch my breath, and carry on.
The first 3 miles involve lots of huffing and stopping. There is zero groove to my pace. I can't run fast on the uphills because, well, it's uphill and I can't run fast on the downhills because I know my slightly quivering quads will be yelling something fierce at mile 17.5.
So I take some pictures.
I get back to the orange trail and am at the top of the hill. There is no cresting beyond trees at this elevation, but I can see the mountaintops on the horizon. It doesn't photograph well, but it was kind of beautiful in person.
I start to descend and am feeling a bit better about things. I get back around to where I am retracing my steps on the orange trail and it start to mother effing rain. Really? It's already pretty muddy and/or full of horse poop on the trail so I'm already a little overwhelmed. My double knotted shoelace comes untied and when I reach down to untie it, I realize my leg is bleeding. Great...
The rest of the orange trail is not as bad on the way back and the rain was only a short-lived thing. Once I get to the split of the blue trail, I stop for my Vanilla Gu and see a couple of horseback riders in the distance. I decide to go clockwise on the blue trail and everything is all hunky dory until I get to the Etowah River. The trail was very clearly marked with blue trail markers and I come up to this:
I figure out how to get over there and then....
I take the blue trail back to where it meets the pink trail and figure I will just take another way back to the car and decide what to do from there. When I'm on a wide section, a horseback rider is coming in the opposite direction and calls out "hey" when he spots me. I yell out "hey" back and as I pass, he tells me that's all I needed to do to not spook the horse.
The pink trail is pretty rough as I head away from the riverbank and up, up, up. I walk a good bit until it finally levels off. As I make my way back to the blue trail, I start hearing voices ahead. Not like I'm-going-crazy voices, but other humans on the trail. It's full of switchbacks, but I'm guessing they are on horses. I spot the last one in the distance and start to try to make noise. I cough and hack and when I get about 30 feet away, I call out "hey!". The horse jumps, not wildly, but enough to turn to look. The older-than-me woman riding the horse gives me a nice, but stern schooling on spooking horses and I'm instructed to walk by the group when they find a place to pull over. I play nicely.
When I get back to my car, I'm at mile 15.2 and ravenous. I tear open a Kind bar from my purse and barely stop to chew. I gather my bearings and set out for the red/blue trail. After a (more) confusing moments, I eventually am on my way. I decide I will run 1.4 miles out and turn around to get my 18 in for the day. I am finally running on flatter trails/the Kind bar/I'm almost done and manage to dip into the 8's for the first time all day. I get to 16.6 and truck on back to the car.
18 miles, done: