The Joy of Trail Running

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Running is a sport that’s hard to love. It could be because it requires so much of one’s energy among other emotions that there’s hardly room left for anything else. Most runners run either because they’re good at it, are very competitive, like the physical & psychological results of running or a combination of the above. Very few, I believe, will admit to loving the constant pounding of heart, feet and muscle to the insistent beat of their personal-health-aspiration-drum.

imageQuite frankly, after my teenage years and before I discovered trail running, I saw running as strictly a competitive sport and would hardly consider it something I did for fun. The trails changed all that. There among nature, I discovered my inner ying that responded to the call of the wild with a resounding yes that echoes wherever trails are found. I want to discover, explore and enjoy them all. Within those trails I am able to step outside of myself and see the beauty of God’s creation as He intended it and it’s a wonder to behold. I don’t know why I respond this way, what it is within me that unfurls at the sight, sounds and smell of nature blossoming in my midst..I just know that I do and that to be given the opportunity to experience it is a precious gift I treasure. Upon my return to the track and roads there’s really no comparison. Time stands still among the quiet chatter of birds and insects; the cackle of leaves underfoot is background music to the sighting of a unique flower or plant as the fresh air pleasantly tickles my nostrils, and my senses are thoroughly assaulted by the explosion of color as the seasons change. And If per chance I encounter one of my wild friends, it’s always with a gaze of awe as I humbly submit to their authority in this world of theirs..where I am but a guest..a world seemingly untouched, unspoiled by the passage of time and those who are fortunate to enter in.

I try to get to the trails as often as I can, which is not often enough in my mind. Thank goodness New York offers lots of opportunities to the desirous trail runner, as there are lots of parks surrounding the city that one can get lost in. Venture a little further upstate or head out to the Catskills and it’s trail heaven out there and great for hiking too. What I have not been so fortunate to find are running events that involve the trails, I guess it’s harder to organize those, but be that as it may, there are always opportunities for those so inclined; my eyes and ears are open to new trail experiences this year.

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Running Miami

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Less than twenty-six days stand between me and 3:25, my projected finish time for the Miami Marathon on February 2. I feel pretty confident I can achieve this time despite my last result here in New York, as nothing is more motivating to me than failure. Some may say The INGNYC Marathon wasn’t a failure and maybe so, given my injury and all, but I see Miami as an opportunity to redeem myself – to no one but me.

Training this time around hasn’t been so easy. Post the NYC run, I was still struggling with recovery from my ankle injury and was forced to take pretty much all of November off while I resumed running on Thanksgiving Day. Then along came Christmas and my Georgia trip, where I managed to squeeze some running in but not a lot.  Back to New York and it’s been crazy cold, snowing, even frigid at times; not-so-great weather for running outside, but here too I’ve been trying. I’m looking at the days dwindling away and I’m like..”wait!” But of course time waits on no one, least of all me, and I’m getting quite antsy here trying to get my miles in. I’m not too worried though, I’m relying on God, determination and self motivation to get me up-to-speed and across the finish line in record time.
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In the final weeks leading up to the big day, I’ll be altering my regime somewhat to accommodate, what I pray is, a healthy and whole ankle. Not that my training plan for New York wasn’t ideal..it was and worked great in spite of the circumstances, but I really couldn’t reap the benefits then. So I’m speeding things up a bit, with the promise of ‘nicer’ weather on the way. A long run this weekend is long overdue followed by a shorter recovery run on Sunday. Thereafter, I’m planning five days of running next week; to include another long run and then on to some short tempo runs the following week. As I taper down leading up to race day, I also plan on stealing a day for some cross training, which will provide the necessary variety to keep me sane. My diet will see some slight changes as well, as I increase carb intake and amp up hydrating methods to include coconut water, tomato juice & smoothies..I love! Finally, stretching, stretching and stretching; very important to avoid injuries and to keep my muscles agile and relaxed.

Beautiful Miami, you inspire me!

All Peaches and Running Dreams

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I love running in Georgia. Particularly, I delight in the fresh and pristine air surrounding the Savannah Rapids River in Augusta, and the cacophony of sounds that enfold me as I make my way along the scenic trails.  Because I consider myself a nature lover, I relish the times I can get away from city life and get in tuned with my wild side.  There’s nothing more inspiring than being lost to the world of city lights, blaring traffic and the constant chatter of well-meaning or not, people.  It is here that running takes on a whole new meaning; where competition, pace and races take a back seat to enjoyment, beauty and appreciation.

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It seems everything and everyone conspire to offer the perfect conditions -it’s hardly winter here today- for lacing up and heading out.  And because it’s so designed, I can hardly not take a camera along as picturesque scenes are sure to greet me.  I picture the willow trees, its branches swaying gently in the breeze as the gurgling sound of water gushes by and the birds singing sweetly as they tag along on this self-defining run that will unearth more than I can imagine and unload more than mere calories.

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I may return with some Spanish moss in my hand and some stunning shots on my camera, but what I hold in my heart and my head, words cannot express, nor can I really articulate what it means to this city girl who’s really country at heart.

Faith-filled or Foolish

IMG_3583As a runner, you pretty much dread getting hurt but what you dread even more is finding out you can never run again. In 5 & 1/2 days I will face the run of a lifetime.  It’s all that I’ve thought of, breathe, worked at, and been able to see, for at least two years now.  I should be thrilled; jumping and running up and down with glee and in preparation, instead I’m thrilled in a boot and doubting my sanity as I press ahead with plans to run on Sunday.

I’ve had so many of my friends, family and concerned well wishers advising me to put it off – ” there’ll always be another race, it’s ok to miss this one” they say.   I don’t know if it’s ego, tenacity, faith or foolhardiness but there’s something in me that won’t let me give this up.  I just can’t quit! Even with the thought that I could suffer a greater set-back, that I could cause further damage..irreparable damage even, does not give me pause. The more I consider it, the more I am convinced that I’m neither reckless nor crazy; what I am is a runner who knows my body and my limitations.  I also know the hard work I have put in to arrive here and I trust the God who has made it possible.  The latter reason being the one above all else that has me convinced I am going to do this, that if God has brought me to this point, He is totally able to take me through and beyond; too, I’m by no means pursuing this in a haphazard manner, I am diligently utilizing all avenues to ensure I am fit and ready to race; yet I cannot say what will happen on race day.  I pray that I will have an amazing race here in the most awesome city in the world! Now to turn these nagging little voices into encouragement & optimism, because all I can afford right now is positive energy.

Preparing for the Marathon

IMG_2441So I’m in! What does that mean? What does it look like?

Honestly, it means a lot.  I dreamt about it sure, I’ve talked and thought about it but I never really thought I would be given the opportunity of running it.  Back in the day, I know I sound ancient, but back home in the islands, we’re bombarded by western media, fashion, culture even and so we think of the United States and it’s like.. that place, we love to hate.  Truth be told, you really want to visit but not to be seen as wanting to.  Anyway, to think that after all these years of having this dream of running the New York City Marathon on my peripheral mind, that I’m actually here, loving it and running it!!! Way cool!

On the other hand, running is no strut on the catwalk.  Competitive running , even some-what competitive (me) demands so much commitment and determination.  I call it, “the sport of the mind” because a lot of preparation begins there.  I’ve written my goal, I tell it to myself daily and even have alert reminders on my phone and running buddies to keep me focused.  It’s like having another job minus the monthly paycheck.  My reward will be 26.2 miles under my shoes come Nov 3 and my medal stating so!

Some idea of what my crazy starting schedule looks like : 5/7 days of running, avg of 50 miles p/wk, strength training 2/7 days, high-intensity cardio, yoga and toning classes 3/7 days p/wk.  I’m also considering joining a  running group that’s doing training runs for the marathon as I feel this is important in acquiring a support base to help with mental and physical preparedness.  Now all I need is more hours in the day; if you can help in this regard, please let me know.

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