Big news on the blog today… I think I’m turning into a trail runner! It all began on January 17th when I avoided the trails and chose the easier road course at the Pickle Run. After the race was over two Trail-Picklers cheerfully informed me that the trails were WAY more fun than the boring out-and-back road course. They suggested that I give the trails a try in the future and I took their advice to heart.
The Sunday after returning home from Vegas I took Piper out on a walk/jog in Ridley Creek State Park to see for myself how fun this whole trail running thing could be. I LOVED IT!! The snowy trail wound around in the woods, up hills and over little frozen creeks. Every once in a while the trail would intersect the paved multi-use park road and Piper and I would dash across, pausing just long enough to glimpse a few road-runners before diving back into the woods on the other side. Piper shouldn’t be running any significant distance yet since she’s still very young, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from breaking out into a slow jog on the beautiful trails. Piper’s tail was up in the air and wagging the entire time. 😊 (Side note: Piper is going to be an awesome running buddy someday!!)
I headed out onto the Ridley Creek trails again on Tuesday, this time ready for a more serious run and armed with a new pair of Yaktrax to help with traction on the snow and ice. I parked at area 14 and enjoyed a hilly route that followed sections of the blue, white and yellow trails. I completed 4 miles in 44:44… a lot slower than my normal road runs but given the rough terrain and snow that was fine by me.
Saturday I was at it again, now venturing out on the Darlington and Rocky Run sections of my beloved Middletown Township trails network. The area around the parking lot looked melted and muddy so I initially left my Yaktrax in the car, but promptly turned around and grabbed them after immediately hitting a section of trail that was pure ice. (Apparently ice stays on the trails even when it has melted everywhere else. Who knew?) This run was hillier than my forays in RCSP but quite enjoyable nonetheless. After 5.1 miles at a slightly improved 10:12 pace I think it’s safe to say that I am officially hooked on trails.
In other big news… After thirty-four 5Ks and four 5-milers I’m finally trying a new race distance – a 10K!! I’ll be running the Tyler Arboretum 10K on April 11th. It’s a trail race (!!!) with four creek crossings and – I quote – “TONS of elevation changes” so it’s a good thing I’m embracing this whole trail running thing now!! Tyler Arboretum is right next to Ridley Creek State Park but I’ve never actually been there since they charge admission and don’t allow dogs. I’m definitely looking forward to my first 10K!
I still have a lot to learn about trail running but here are a few things I’ve picked up so far:
- Trail running is different (harder!) than road running. Just because the pace is slower doesn’t mean you’re not working as hard.
- Ice and snow remain on trails even when everything else is melted. Yaktrax are awesome!
- Trail running is much more peaceful than road running. Just you and the woods. And your audiobook if you’re me. (I’m 7 hours into Seabiscuit.)
- Trails are a great alternative to icy winter roads with their icky, salty, slushy shoulders. I’d rather plan for constant ice and snow on the trails versus trying to dodge ice (and traffic) on the roads.
- Don’t get lost. Run somewhere you’re familiar with, plot your route ahead of time, use a mapping app on your phone… whatever you need to do. I would want to hike a new trail with Matt and Piper first to get a feel for it before attempting to run anywhere new alone.
- Tell someone where you’re going. I let Matt know my plan and also use the cool “LiveTrack” feature on my Garmin so he can watch my run in real time on his phone if he wants to.
- Be safe! So far I have felt very safe at Ridley Creek State Park and on the Middletown Trails, in part because they’re places I go all the time and also because honestly, what crazy predator would be hiding out in the woods on a 19° winter day on the off chance that a lone runner passes by? Still, if I’m going to be running solo I might need to invest in some pepper spray…?