Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hit the Trails

So far this week, we've had rainy, stormy, downright miserable weather here in RVA. It forced me to have a date with the dreadmill this morning for some speedwork. 

Things aren't looking much better for tomorrow morning, so instead I am holding on to memories from last week's three stellar trail running sessions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. 

I'm relishing in this glorious month or so of not being officially in training for anything at all for the first time in a year. It doesn't matter how far or how fast I go; it is all about enjoyment and love of the run. 

This relaxed approach has meant that each day featured a different cast of characters, mystery mileage, and choose-your-own adventure routes. We explored new trails, having absolutely no idea where we were going to end up. We scaled to the top of Belle Isle (Who knew you could go up that big old hill on Belle Isle? I certainly didn't!) and stopped to admire the view. We visited our favorite spot on the Isle each day, enjoying a few moments of zen each time as we took in the city skyline and dawn creeping in from the East. We added extra loops at the end of each session because we just didn't feel like being finished yet, even though each of us did have to eventually get to a desk and work. 

We were like kids having too much fun outside and ignoring the call of parents who are trying to get them inside to do homework or eat dinner.

There were many times when I completely forgot that we were even running. We were just hanging out, relaxing, enjoying each other's company.

Photo credit: Greg Barch

Photo credit: Greg Barch

Photo credit: Greg Barch

Raleigh had already reawakened my love for the run, and these three almost-transcendental routes last week cemented it. Each day when we were finished, I felt completely calm, happy, and content. Everything was right in the world for those few minutes. 

If I had my way, I would've hung out on the trails all day and never come in from playing. 

There is just a feeling that you get when you're on a trail as opposed to the road. Don't get me wrong - I love  hitting the streets of Richmond. Navigating the city on foot leads to so many fun discoveries and helps me feel  more connected and aware of my urban surroundings. The roads are where I put my speed to the test, pushing the limits of my pace and feeling pretty victorious when I'm finished. 

But the trails... when you park on a busy city street and within 10 minutes are whisked away to a quiet wooded path where you can forget about everything else... Where you find yourself relaxed to the point of forgetting you are running a 9:00 min pace, but are still completely engaged because you have to pay attention to that next foot fall. It's this weird state of your mind working over time but somehow checking out simultaneously. 

I love it!

And I want you to love it too - so I'm taking this opportunity to remind all of my lovely lady readers of my invitation to join me for Run Like a Girl: Pocahontas Edition, where we can hit the trails together. Register under Team Run Eat Play RVA with the password cupcake.

So far I've had lots of "sure, I will totally join the team!" conversations, but only one follow through (shout out to Deidre Cox! Can't wait to meet you!). Let's get that team number up!  

For a little extra incentive, here is a just-released photo of the first ever RLaG finisher medal, which you will be receiving when you run with me at Pocahontas in June:

Not too shabby, eh? So stop procrastinating and click yourself on over to RLaG's registration page!

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