One thing on my running to-do list has been to try trail running. But training for and running two marathons in one year didn’t leave much time for other running adventures. So with no big races planned for 2017, when I saw the announcement about the Snake Run I decided to take the opportunity to try trail running.
Now, the name of the race seriously made me reconsider registering for the race since my fear of snakes borders on a phobia. I am
terrified petrified of snakes. I hate them so much I made my sister read the reptile chapter in my eighth grade science class to me so I wouldn’t have to look at those pictures. Shiver.
But once I scrolled past the picture of a colorful, coiled up snake (shiver, again) on the race’s website, I discovered that the name of the race came from the curvy nature of the trail on Turkey Mountain, a wilderness area right here in the middle of Tulsa (sweet!), and had nothing to do with snakes, thankfully. Then, I learned that runners of this race chose a time limit of either 3 or 6 hours. The objective, then, was to run as far as possible within that time limit. Sounded like a good race for my first trail race, so I signed up. At least if I made one lap and decided I hated trail running, I could just quit. There wasn’t a distance I needed to complete. Kind of took the pressure off, you know.
So for those of you who follow me on Facebook, here’s the story I promised you of why my first trail run ended like this:The day of the run dawned sunny and clear, a perfect day to run. I was feeling a bit nervous since the rules of this race were so different from road races. A veteran trail runner explained that we would make the 3.75 mile loop, check in at the start/finish line for our miles to be logged, and head back out for the next loop. The strategy came in finishing the current loop before your time limit was up. Otherwise, those last 3.75 miles would not be counted.
The 6 hour runners started, and 15 minutes later the gun went off for us lowly 3 hour runners. I took my place in the line of runners along the narrow beginning of the trail, and my first trail run was underway. I discovered that what I’d been told about trail running was absolutely true. My pace was much slower, and I had to focus on the ground right in front of me to know where to put my feet. Yep, just like they said.
About 2 miles in, I was feeling good, enjoying the new adventure of jumping over rocks, mud puddles, rocks, and ditches when all of sudden I found myself face down in the dirt. But it wasn’t just a fall. It was one of those falls that begins with a couple of bounces when you hit the ground and finally ends when you skid to a stop with an “oomph.” A most spectacular spill, I’m sure, if I’d been on the viewing end of that initiation into trail running. Other runners passed me like gazelles, slowing down enough to make sure I was okay and to pass on encouragement to “walk it off”, telling me that a fall makes me a true trail runner. Sprawled on the ground, taking up the entire trail with limbs in every which direction, that did make me feel a bit better!
I landed hard on my left hip (enough to get road rash through my shorts, I discovered later), but running didn’t seem to make it worse, initially, so I kept going. My goal was to run 13 miles in the 3 hours, but with each loop, my left leg and knee started protesting more and more and my lap times kept getting slower. Finally, I noticed that I was holding my breath and with each step over tree limbs, rocks, or ditches, a little moan would escape from my mouth. I decided that to risk further injury, the prudent thing to do was to end the race…at 12.75 miles. I hate doing the prudent thing sometimes, especially so close to my goal.
So there you have it. The story of my first trail run…and 2 weeks later, I’m still sporting a nice greenish bruise on my leg. But fall and all, I had fun!
Talk to me:
What’s something new you’ve tried recently?
What’s something you’d like to try?