Saturday, June 16, 2012

Word of Warning - When You Hit the Trail, the Trail Hits Back

Since I've come back from my Pat's Run slump, I've been running almost completely naked.
In case you're not a runner and sat at attention there, running "naked" means that I'm not strapping on a GPS or heart rate monitor to constantly tell me my pace, speed, etc.  I'm not actually running naked.  I can't imagine how uncomfortable that would be.
For me or any passers-by.
Anyway, I say "almost completely" because I still take my phone, on which I have my GPS, but I have set the GPS to stay quiet and not give me any feedback; it only tracks my mileage overall.  I'm using that because we have already established that I am TERRIBLE at The Maths and thus need some extra help in calculating when I need new shoes (I am due for a new pair but am holding out for the end of the month).
I've been working hard not to obsess about how far or how fast I am going (or not going) and to just have fun running instead.  If it ceases to be fun, I really don't want to do it anymore.  But since it's getting hotter here in the Valley of the Sun, I've been sticking close to home on the canal, making for a bit of a Groundhog Day-esque running experience.
What's a girl to do in order to spice things up around here?
I've been thinking about adding trail running for a while now but had originally planned to hold off until the weather started cooling back down this fall, but when Kat called upon the Running Pack in the Sky for this weekend, I could not help but heed that call.
Zooey and I went for our usual run Friday morning along the canal, and as we ran, I decided that I just needed to stop saying "later."
So "later" became "tomorrow."
As in today.
While it's been hovering in the low 100s during the day, the Arizona nights are still cooling off, so I knew that as long as I kicked off as early as possible, both Zooey and I would be all right.
My location of choice was one of our favorite hiking spots - San Tan Mountain Regional Park, about 30 minutes away in Queen Creek.  I mapped out a route that was mostly a loop (there was a bit of out and back) that ended up being just slightly longer than a 5K, which was about as far as I wanted my first trail run to be.
I'm crazy.  Not stupid.
Usually, Zooey and I get up at 4:30, but since the park doesn't officially open until 6AM, I timed my alarm to make sure we got there shortly after gates opened.

Sunrise at San Tan
Friends, I am here to tell you this - trail running is awesome.  Simply awesome.
Also, on a related note, I am quite certain that getting out of bed will prove next to impossible tomorrow.
The trails at San Tan are appropriate for hikers, cyclists (there were about a bazillion there this morning), and horses; there are some deep dips on several trails, and on all of them, there are inclines, declines, and washes, which are usually dry.
It was the hardest run I have ever gone on.  I think, quite honestly, that it was a greater workout than even my half marathon.
In other words, trail running totally kicked my ass.
Call me a masochist; I can't wait to go back.

Zooey couldn't wait to get going, as anyone who
was at the park could hear...

Not quite as gorgeous as in the spring,
when the ocotillo is in bloom.

What do you do to change up your running (or other exercise) routine?
Have you ever gone trail running or hiking?
Do you run naked or fully geared?


  1. Way to go Rockstar! Keep up the great work - you, Kat and Kirsten are truly inspirational women to me - I hope I can hit the trails with you all soon - but for now - my part of the #runningpackinthesky will have to stick to the elliptical. Rock on woman - Rock on!!

    1. Someday our Running Pack in the Sky will become a Running Pack on the Same Trail. And it will be glorious. And be followed by lunch and beer. And a shopping expedition. And probably a pedicure.

  2. Confession: I ran naked for the first time on Saturday, and it felt so weird! I also felt more free because I wasn't obsessing about checking my mileage or total running time every time I felt like dying/stopping. Kind of liberating actually, although I think I could only do it on trails that I've already tracked the mileage on so that I know my total distance. OCD, much?

    Ha! Y'all are assuming that I can keep up with you speedy girls! I am not fast.

    1. Speed doesn't matter; the pedicure at the end does. :)
      I actually slowed down this year, but hopefully now that I'm sleeping again, I can get stronger and speedier.
      I do "need" to know how far I've gone; there is something about 2 miles that I "HAVE" to do before I'm done, unless something goes really wrong (like the time I got the flu and didn't realize it until a half mile in). So I ignore for the most part, but I still feel like I "need" it.

  3. The only bit of technology I run with besides music is The Trusty Watch that has crossed every start line with me. I love it dearly.

    All of that aside, I have NEVER gone on a trail run before and I so love that you Went Big with the Running Pack in the Sky and actioned that on the 16th. What a gorgeous area. :)

    1. I felt like a trail run fit our "More is More" strategy.
      You should really see the trails out here in the spring when things are green and blooming. Everyone is always welcome to come visit. We only have one extra bedroom, but I'm sure Zooey would be happy to snuggle anyone who stays on the couch.