Or "Y'all love when bloggers get 'real,' right?"
So let's talk "real." I'm no stranger to trail running, I've put in lots of miles on trails. But there are different kinds of trails. The ones I prefer, the ones I run regularly, are really "unpaved paths." And I love that. I love running through the trees, taking in nature and the sights.
But let's not pretend that's what most people consider "trail running." I know. I've run more than one "trail race." And they are hard! They are not "unpaved paths." They are grueling treks up mountains that are referred to as "hills." And recently my "trail runs" have mirrored these races.
It started back in March when I was invited to join in a sunrise run up to North Fortuna in Mission Trails park. It was a strenuous uphill climb, which was equally challenging coming back down. And while that could have been the end of it, the park has a "5 peaks challenge" for summitting all five of the "hills" in a year. So I told SDMom to let me know if she hit up any of the other ones. I wasn't going out of my way, but you know, if it happened to be convenient.....
Last week, SDMom let me know there was going to be a group planning a trail run on Saturday. It included a climb up to Kwaay Paay peak. And she was going. Along with a bunch of my other favorite people. So yesterday morning, one of my favorite people picked me and we carpooled down to the meeting point.
There was a huge group of us. With various speeds and abilities. Although I was definitely in the slower half of the group. Which ended up with me towards the very rear when a lot of the slower half decided to skip "Climbers loop" a trail that climbed almost 400 feet in less than a mile.
It was rough. And I had to hang back for a moment to catch my breath, letting some others in front of me. But eventually I was able to continue with the group. There was no summit to this climb, but there were some lovely views.
When we reached the bottom, it was time to run. And I ran. On legs that were already fatigued from the the first leg! But we were heading to the reason I was there Kwaay Paay, 1194 feet up. I fell to the rear here again, with several other women who decided we were better off hiking up. We'll leave the running to the flat portions. And we were really climbing on this one. I felt like we went on forever, but eventually we got to the top, where we joined the rest of the group.
What comes up, must come down, so down we came. I ended up in the middle of the pack here, but it wasn't long before I lost sight of the people in front of me, and lost the sound of the people behind me. But I calmed my nerves by reminding myself I just needed to head down. Every time I came to a fork in the trail, I followed the one that appeared to be heading toward the road. And eventually I met up with all the women in front of me.
This was where we were going to split. Some women were heading back to cars, others were heading to run the perimeter. My ride was running the perimeter, so I figured I would stick with them. We started out, and once again I lost sight of all but one of the women in front of me. And my anxiety kicked in. "You're not going to be able to see them, and you don't know this area very well. You won't know where to go if the trail splits, and you won't see where they went." I knew this would be very very bad for me. So I called out to the woman in front of me to let her know I was turning back, so they wouldn't be looking or waiting for me.
And I headed back. This short portion of the trail was more like my unpaved path and I took pleasure in running over bridges and checking out the waterfall.
When I got back to the base of Kwaay Paay, I saw the rest of the crew that had been behind me coming down, including SD Mom. Knowing they were more my speed, I decided to join them in "catching up" to the faster women by following the Saddle trail, another 720 ft climb.
There was a lot more walking. A lot more complaining. And a lot of realization that this was not something I wanted to do on a regular basis. Especially because every time we turned around, we were heading uphill. It felt like we would never get back to our cars.
BUT WE DID!
After all that, I felt sure that I would sit down and never be able to stand again, and (knock on wood) so far that hasn't been a problem.
Although my socks may never be white again....