My friends and I decided to do a lunchtime Christmas Eve trail two days ago…and leading up to it I knew the trails would be messy, but I hoped the rain would stop for our actual run. We gathered up and headed out and it was about 45, which is chilly, but y’all…the trails were WAY more than “messy”. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re running in dry creek beds until after a good rain. The first half mile I barely took one dry step and it was still a little raining and I hadn’t warmed up yet and I seriously thought: I’m going to get my friend we’re meeting at the other trail to just take me up to my car. She won’t want to get out in this and I don’t want to do the 6.5 miles we’re supposed to do I’m wet and cold, and I’m just going to get colder and wetter.
But then…I just never got colder, and eventually I warmed up a bit, and suddenly? I was having the time of my life. There was so much water EVERYWHERE that it was basically like running through a creek then entire 6.5 miles. Just when you got a stretch of dry trail, you would come to a creek crossing that is normally a trickle of water but that day? Full waterfall down the mountain! I crossed some creeks where the water came just below my knees! And I never got colder. A lot of that is due to good gear: wool socks and trails shoes that drain well. And then a lot of it is just that you stay warm when you’re running. SCIENCE!
Either way, the misery never hit and I just had one of the best runs of my life. Not necessarily regarding time, because there are a lot of sections with giant slippery rocks that I had to take slow in the rain, but just the experience as a whole. We had a great group, splashing around on the trails was just so therapeutic, and OH MY GOODNESS…it was just BEAUTIFUL out there. The waterfalls in every creek bed were just breathtaking. Especially when you’ve run those trails a million times and never seen it like that. They were like all new trails to me again!
We have a local running group on Facebook called “We Run Huntsville” and someone visiting town from Birmingham found our run posted and joined us. He asked me to share out the pictures I took so he could make his Birmingham trail running friends jealous! HA!
All in all a great day and a reminder of one of the grandest lessons of running that STILL surprises me on a regular basis: You can actually feel better as your run progresses. There are so many different ways that the first mile can suck, especially as you get older and it starts taking you more miles to warm up. But sometimes…you can actually start to feel BETTER as the run goes on. When I started running I assumed that first mile would be my highest point, and the more miles I ran, the worse I would feel. But I’ve run marathons where mile 4 was harder than mile 22. I’ve done 50Ks where I considered quitting at mile 8 but ended up PR’ing feeling amazing. You just never know. Last year at my 12-hour run I felt like I was getting blisters at mile 15 due to my own stupid mistake. I rectified the mistake and did 37 more miles and never got a blister. I’ve had back issues that have faded away or knee issues that have loosened up.
Sometimes…all it takes is powering through and waiting it out. Sometimes the sun comes up. Sometimes the scenery changes. Sometimes that hip stops bothering you. Sometimes that snack hits the spot and your energy surges. Sometimes you see a friend that gives you the boost of umpf! you needed.
And I still constantly forget this. I still waste valuable energy considering how I’m going to quit in the middle of a run. “Who’s going to take me to my car? Who can I call? Where can I find some ibuprofen and a beer?” But then…some time later I find myself going,
“Wait. Hmmm….I’m feeling better. Why do I always forget that can happen? 4 years in and I still think when I feel crappy the day is over…and it still never is.”