When my dad and I would walk the trails and hike around Western New York we always wondered about the trail runners. For the most part, we didn’t see another soul out on the trails, something which was both nice (we had the trail all to ourselves) and disconcerting (why weren’t people using the trails?). It was only on occasion when we’d see a trail runner and we didn’t quite get it. Why would you want to rush through all this? If you’re going too fast, aren’t you going to miss stuff? And frankly, I have enough problems staying upright when walking the trails let alone trying to run on them.
I thought of all that this morning when I was, well, doing my 5-mile run on a trail. Yep. That was me, at one of the local town parks which has some wooded trails in its surroundings. I picked this particular park and trail system because it was pretty flat and well marked making it easy for me to avoid my biggest fear in trail running — getting lost. In my desire to push myself way out of my comfort zone this year, to do things which are just plain hard, I’ve registered for my first trail marathon. It’s coming up quick, in less than two months. And well, I need to get my rear in gear and spend some time on trails.
The morning was crisp and pleasant. I found the trails well marked and well groomed. My Garmin told me my pace was pretty slow, but my body told me I was doing just fine at a nice, steady, solid pace for a day devoted to “easy” workouts. Friends have told me trail running is not about speed; it’s about getting through. That means I have to adjust my competition meter. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about finishing. And I’m pretty OK with that.
During my run, I spent more time looking at the trail ahead then checking out the scenery around me. But it felt good to be in nature. There were some loud geese who flew overhead, birds who sang, squirrels and chipmunks which scattered in the old leaves. It was calming and invigorating at the same time. I felt at peace even as I challenged my body. Forget what the clock said, this was one of my best runs. It really isn’t about the speed. Trail running, for me, has become an opportunity to explore another side of myself and another side of nature.