Last weekend, I participated in the inaugural Indiana Women’s Trail Run at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. I’d never done any sort of trail running before in my life. I mean, sure…I’ve ran on the road, and I’ve hiked on the trail…but never both of those, combined. I had been wanting to get back into running ever since my knee surgery last year, but the recovery took a bit. And then, I was focused on weight loss through changing my diet, and our winter here was absolutely miserable, so running took a back seat. Then, an email for this race came through my inbox, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get back into running shape! So, I started running on the path that goes through our housing complex (3 mile loop), but wasn’t able to really get any good mileage out of that because my knees kept hurting. I was really hoping that, after losing 50+ pounds, the knee issues would ease up…but apparently not.
So…for the past month, I’ve gotten in a few run/walks. Nothing really significant, but I wasn’t too worried because the trail run was a walk or a run, depending on what fitness level each person was at. So, no big deal, because I could always walk some of it if it became too much. Which was highly likely, as this wasn’t a road run, but a trail run, and a lot of different muscle groups would be engaged that weren’t normally.
Saturday dawned quite dark, seeing as how I had to get up at 0500 to get to the race in time. I was definitely rethinking this whole idea to up and do a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) that early in the morning, but I managed to drag my sorry ass to the race, if only for the cupcake that was promised me at the end. (The Flying Cupcake gave each lady a free, full-sized cupcake for completing the race…WELL worth it!) And, of course, I was FULL of energy once I got there, so it didn’t make much difference anyways. There’s something about the few minutes before a race that will get the energy moving, the heart pumping, and the adrenaline racing…it’s such a heady feeling! Once the race started, we were off. And by “off”…I mean that most of us were walking due to the bottle neck at the start of the trail. It took awhile for the pack to thin out and get moving, but about a quarter-mile in I was able to start jogging and get in stride. And, surprisingly, I kept going, and going, and going! I made it just past the second mile marker before I had to slow it down a bit, then at around 2.5 miles I moved to a fast walk. I kept that up until mile 4, then ran another mile, the slowed it down to a jog, then a walk, until mile 6. At mile 6, I kicked it into gear and finished the race at a run!
Trail running was SUCH a better experience for me than road running. The ground was far more forgiving for my joints, and it was a constantly changing scenery, which really helps with my focus. I kept my iPod running with my favorite mix of music (Pitch Perfect was the headliner for my race), and was able to push through the hills really well. At the end of the race, I got my medal and my cupcake, and I was a VERY happy lady! It was a fantastic experience, and I’ll definitely do it again next year. I was telling J about how I think I’m going to start trail running instead of on the road, going forward, so I’m hoping to make it over to the local state park a couple of times a week to hit up the trails and get moving. I still really love other cardio workouts, but there are times when nothing beats the feeling of feet slapping the earth. This weekend was definitely a kick-start to a new wave of exercise!