It’s official — I’m hooked on trail running.
And I can’t say I saw this one coming. I’ve long considered myself an indoorsman; even as a kid I preferred to stay home and read a book than go out on a hike. To this day, hiking sounds miserable to me. When I’m camping and everyone decides to go for a hike, I’m the guy who stays back to “hold down the fort,” indoorsman code for “get disgustingly drunk and throw things in the fire.”
But this week I went on two trail runs with a group of ultra-runners, and I already can’t wait to do it again. And considering I just got back a few hours ago from the most recent one, an 11-miler, this is saying something.
Never before in my life have I ever looked forward to running, except maybe on race days. Running, to me, has always been about the getting the big goal and little else. Marathon training has been many wonderful things for me, but one thing it has never been is fun.
But trail running is different. It’s a completely distinct sport from road running, more different than I had imagined. I started to suspect this when I got an email from the group reminding me “bring your headlamp” to the first run. So I got myself one of those; sexy huh?
My suspicion was confirmed when, ten minutes into said run, I loyally followed the eight runners in front of me directly through a stream, plunging both feet directly into the water. Funny, I thought, lesser things than a soaked foot used to be reason enough for me to immediately abort a long run and go home.
When I used to talk about the possibility of one day doing a 50-miler, it was always “Yeah, but they’re on trails, so you have to pick up your feet to step over roots and stuff.” I’m almost embarrassed at how naive that was. Every step is on some sort of rock, hill, side slope, mud, root, water, wet leaves, etc. Or at the very least, it’s carefully aimed to avoid one of these things. And when it’s completely dark and you’re running in a bouncing ten-foot orb of light from your headlamp, it’s even harder to see it all coming.
And somehow, trail running has me in a place I haven’t been in a long time. That place where you can only think about one thing, and counting the hours until you get a chance to do it again.
It doesn’t hurt that the people I’ve met are awesome. They’ve almost all run ultras before, and they’ve been extremely helpful and welcoming to this trail virgin. (For the first time, I’m even a little ashamed of the “26.2″ sticker on my car.) The “drinking group with a running problem” joke is hackneyed by now, but based on what I’ve seen so far, my guess is that ultra runners were the inspiration for it. Which is just fine by me, because after one of these runs, nothing sounds better than a couple cold ones.
Vega Sport Giveaway Winner
Ok, it’s time to pick a winner for the tub of Vega Sport! By the way, I drank it before and during my trail run this morning with great results. I only wish they had given me more to sample, because when this tub is gone I have a feeling I’m going to be forking over some dinero to buy more.
Ok, so here we go. I’m using the “true random number” generator at <