June 18, 2012

Trail running lately

The trails, just when you hit them, they hit you back. At least that's what happened to me on my last couple of trail runs. 

If I rewind a couple of weeks, I hit Moss Creek Preserve with my brother. It's another free-entry set of trails close to Birmingham. 

This is pre-running, when I was still excited about some new trails to explore.


We pulled up to a completely empty parking lot, but I was feeling good about the immediate port-o-potty sighting. 


And a trash can is always handy. So are rules for hooligans like us.


Once we started navigating the trails, it felt like we were going in lots of circles. The trails were pretty short before you made a turn or met up with another trail. There were several of these directional signs posted on the trails, but I never spotted a general park map at the location. We had a tiny one on our phone that we were trying to use for navigation.


The rapids were pretty gnarly. Does this make anyone else think mosquitoes and yellow fever?


Is this real? Do you have sparkleberries (one word) in your neighborhood?


Which reminds me of Portlandia's Sparkle Pony.


If you like other dumb stuff, you'll love my photography skills. Wow, you're welcome, my brother, for really capturing a great moment you were having with nature. The sadder part of this story is that I was really trying for a picture of him looking at the camera and smiling.


But I'm not surprised he was mesmerized because this park had some really cool rocks that you could climb or crawl around. The ones below were slick and mossy in spots. Moss Creek Preserve ... now I almost get it.


With all of our meandering in circles, we made it 5.38 miles in 1:15. That's a smoking 14 minutes per mile. I kept swearing to myself that my Garmin wasn't picking up signal because I was so blasted worn out by the end. At one point we hit the power line path to see if we could add some mileage that way. Mistake. The weeds were so tall that they were lashing our faces and arms and legs with every swish and step. Ouch. Plus, the insect life was buzzing happily and plentifully all up in the tall weedy flowers. Just when I had perfected breathing without inhaling a bug, a bee stung me on the shoulder. Dang you, bee. 

We quickly left the power line trail to avoid more lashings and stingings and headed to the quieter refuge of the regular trails. They had much less insect life and better shade. While we were trying to find our way out, we came across a pimped out school track just beside the trail. Neither of us brought water, so I thought it would be a great place to discover some fountains. 

The track had hurdles and lots of other fancy looking equipment so I assumed that this was not the middle school next to which we had originally parked that morning (but it was!). How many middle schools have pimped out tracks like that? None where I grew up. I'm pretty sure our high school track team had to practice on glass shards and pot holes in the alley behind our school. 

But with fancy equipment comes fancy rules. Dear sign maker, a gun is a weapon, and tobacco (well, nicotine) is a drug. 


But we would have faced guns or weapons (and maybe even tobacco) to get to this water fountain. Thank you, public school, for keeping the water running even when school's out for summer. 


Much livelier after water intake.


The trickiest part was the exit. For future reference, once you get into this area from the trail, the only way out is to go back onto the trail (boring) or hop the fence (rational). Keep going to see the most awkward fence exit of your life.





Super slow running, super hot day, super bee-stingy shoulder equals super pathetic.


If you squint, you can see the bee sting. No, you can't? Me either, but I swear it's there. 

So this Saturday, I had an equally, if not more, dehydration-inducing run at Red Mountain. I met the Fleet Feet group there around 7. About one minute away from the Red Mountain parking, I realized that I forgot my already-filled fuel belt at home. Criminy! 

Well, I wasn't into turning around and missing the group, so I drank some more water from my giant non-running water bottle and figured I'd refuel after the run. 

Here we are figuring out the trails. Notice that everyone else remembered their water bottle.


Here I am figuring out that I'm lost on the trails. I need to start looking up more when I run trails so that I'm not always confused about where I am no matter how many times I run the same trail.


The one good thing about looking at my feet during Saturday's run? No falls. Tiny trips, yes. Face planting falls, no. Maybe it was the new shoes.

We took it pretty easy for the first 7.5-mile loop, so I thought it would be a good idea to drink a sip of water from my car and head back out for another 4.5-mile loop. Another runner was taking the loop, and luckily, he was willing to share water with me because I think I got pretty close to my dehydration limit somewhere in that last 4.5 miles. 

If you are a person I know in real life, you know that I DO NOT drink after people. Really. Never. So for me to drink out of a complete stranger's water bottle tells you how thirsty I was. Desperately thirsty. Chew tree leaves to eek out the moisture kind of thirsty. So I thank you, total stranger (but not anymore), for sharing. 

Tip of the day: don't forget your water on the counter at your house because you will totally regret that.

Do you run trails? 

What's your best trail running tip? I need all the tips I can get!

22 comments:

  1. Not yet but as soonas this boot comes off I totally am. I found some good ones right around the corner from my house. Posted pics today:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How long do you have with the boot? I'm going right now to check out the pics!

      Delete
  2. I don't run trails regularly, but on the few times I have, my face has made contact with the ground. So sadly, I am not the right person to give you trail running advice. But thanks for the great post and pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel ya on the falling. It's my specialty too!

      Delete
  3. Trail running can be humbling, but that's why I love it. Tips for trail running? Keep doing it! It's awesome. I give you kudos for taking water from a stranger. I was in a similar thirst boat last month when I ran Devil's Lake and got lost.... A nice stranger refilled my water bottle from his...he insisted, said he was ex-military and couldn't let me go without water. I didn't drink it, though, because I am an idiot. Luckily though, I finally found my way out about fifteen minutes later. Otherwise, I am sure I would have caved. Anyway, you do what you have to do! Sounds like you had fun, despite the thirst thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I love long distance runs for the same reason. You start out super confident, and somewhere in there, you always get humbled!

      Delete
  4. I can't be trusted to lead on trails because I can easily get lost...I think I would've gotten lost on those with all the signs too! Bet you'll remember your water next time!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just discovered Fleet Feet in CT. Haven't yet taken a run with the group, but want to! Looks like you had an awesome weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our Fleet Feet has at least two runs a week that I know of. So cool!

      Delete
  6. I LOVE running trails! I don't do it enough b/c I don't always have a pal handy for doing it with and I won't do it solo.

    If I had any advice it would be leave the Garmin at home--I always run trails for time, not miles. There's just too much inconsistency to compare it to the road.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree about running with a partner! I wouldn't do it alone. With my brother, we've come across an occasional sketchy character, and I was sooo glad he was with me.

      I should try Garmin free. It just drives me crazy not to know the distance, but it rarely seems to be accurate anyway because of poor signal in our hills.

      Delete
  7. We don't have your kind of trails here in PHX.
    Running without water would be a disaster here. I don't know how you did it.
    Looks like you had a great time on your runs!! You really inspire me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a disaster without water here too! The trails in PHX probably don't have the tick population to worry about.:)

      Delete
  8. I found a couple great linear-ish trails in Richmond, super fun. I'd done some trails last year that sounded like this meandering trail that you did-- a bunch of short winding trails that double back and loop up with each other.

    Love that red sign about guns/drugs/etc.

    And I want some sparkleberries, they sound like they're magical!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We lived in Chester when my first son was born, and I wish that I had been running then. The area is just gorgeous! I bet there are lots of beautiful spots to choose from.

      Delete
  9. I'm a bad trail runner. I always fall. A lot. But it's fun. You're so cute in your braids.. and so tough hopping that fence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I just chopped my hair off this week, so no more long braids. Cry.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I LOVED this post. I love your outfit most of all - from the braids to the socks. But I also loved the trail running. I would LOVE to go trail running but I run alone and am not going to risk it. I am nervous of mass murderers, generally dying in the woods, getting lost and being attacked by bears, not that there are any bears in the Bay Area. But anyway, v jealous of your antics - it looks so much fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't go alone either! That's why I risked dehydration over missing my group. Especially because I have a horrible sense of direction. But also I have vivid images flash through my mind of dying. If you ever visit AL, you can join us for a safe (with a side of renegade) group run.

      Delete
  12. Hey Momma! I'm the sweaty stranger from the trails that day. Ha.Ran across your post looking for someone who might have posted Garmin data out at Red Mountain (Gonna have to do it myself). Good times that day out! Fun to run with ya.

    ReplyDelete

Yo Momma loves comments.