Well, it's been a while since I posted because I took some time off to let my injuries heal. But a certain Zombie whose name shall be left out of this (Ken) posted a very tantalizing piece about a race he is putting on next weekend and I decided that the time was here for me to start getting back out and about.
Let me tell you, I was ready to get back to it, too. So Saturday morning started out nice and easy on the River Trails running north from the Blue Rose. I figured that I'd do a short couple of miles and maybe just a lottle more for starters because I was going to meet the INFAMAOUS Trail Zombie on Turkey Mountain for a little preview of his race a little later. So I got up early and headed out.
Well, getting to the Blue Rose, I wasn't nearly as early as I wanted to be, but I still had plenty of time to do what I had planned so I headed north. But first, I did something I almost never do -- I left the house without making sure I had an empty bladder... and so there was a brief bout of panic as I was trying to find an open restroom, not wanting to throw my timing off by leaving and coming back. I went ahead and started north, hoping I would run across some open restrooms and just a couple of hundred feet later, I was rewarded. Whew!
So, well relieved, I got into the running in earnest and worked on my miles. I took it easy but still kept a good clip (for me). Just as I was ending up the first part of my day's running activities, TZ called me and verified our trail time. He said he might run a little late but that I could get started. I grabbed a small breakfast and headed to Turkey Mountain.
So, the race course started on the Red Trail and so without TZ in sight, I headed for the arch and the trailhead of the Red Trail. I don't know if it is named for the color of the dirt or not, but I noticed right away that it was typical Oklahoma dirt -- red and dusty. Having only been on the trails once before, on the Snake Run a couple of months ago, I didn't want to get myself into trouble - it's a lot harder to get a ride back when your stuck in a wilderness area -- even an "Urban" Wilderness Area. So I took it slow and really, this was more of a hike than a run. But man, it sure works the muscles.
One of the first things I noticed (after the red dirt) was that the vast majority of this trail (going the direction I was) was downhill. In some places, it was dramatically so. First time runners who actually run the trail should beware. You can come around a corner and be in for a good 4 foot drop. Real easy to roll an ankle -- or worse. But the trail was wide and well marked. It was quite a workout getting down to where TZ and I met. And true to the great State of Oklahoma, the weather changed at least 3 times on the way. The canopy of trees above me shielded me from the rain that fell, all 5 and a half minutes of it. It was never real heavy anyway, and the few drops that managed to make their way through evaporated in minutes, leaving the trail just as dry as it was before.
I came out of the Red Trail where it met the paved bike trail and TZ was running down the hill to meet me. We trekked on to the next part. A dense and Jurrasic-like area that went both up and down quite a bit known, apparently as the Lo-Chi or Lower Trail. I made note that just below us was the railroad tracks and above us were various other trails. Our objective was to get a good view of what TZ felt would be the largest challenge for me in the race, a 120 ft hill between the Lo-Chi and the next trail up, the Ho Chi. Originally, I was going to tackle the hill and see just what it was made of. That wasn't to be, although TZ did and got some great video of it. It was about half way down this part of our trek that I realized that the early morning run, while a good run in and of itself, didn't do me any favors. If I wanted to tackle this hill, I'd need fresh legs. And mine were far from fresh. In fact, my legs were so tired that the ticks out on the trail that plagued TZ didn't even bother with me. Finally, we made it to the hill. I looked up and shook my fist at it. Live while you can, Mr. Hill. Today is not the day I conquor you. But your days are numbered and I will be back.
Trail running, or even walking, is so different from street running. It works you in such a different way that even though I only did somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 miles on the trails, it felt like I'd done 2-3 times that. I got home sore and exhausted. My feet hurt, my legs hurt. But I got such an awesome workout and got a chance to really enjoy some truly wonderful sights. I am sure that as I spend more time out on the trails, my endurance will build and who knows, this might just be the breakthrough I need to push myself to the next level in my street running. I think I am going to make it a point to include at least some of the trails on a monthly basis in my training. Next month, I'm going to reverse the Red Trail and see how that feels. I suspect I'll like it. A lot!