I’m a planner. I tend to be very organized and thorough. So, given that, it is amazing the number of things that go wrong on my runs! All I can do is laugh.
So, my dream goal is to trail run. I’ve been focusing on the “run” portion, and I thought it was time to take on the “trail.” There is a park I have had my eye on to try for quite sometime. I don’t really know what the park is like, it is completely wooded, but it is close enough to my office that I have driven over there and eaten lunch there in my car. (Don’t knock it – lunch in the car at a nice park with the windows rolled down beats eating at my desk any day!) I was usually wearing heels, so I hadn’t explored it myself, but I had seen runners and hikers there. For Run 14, I thought I would give it a try.
It started perfect, big broad unpaved trails through the woods. There were people there, but spaced out enough that it wasn’t too crowded. As I rounded a bend in the trail, I saw a woman walking towards me with a medium-sized fluffy white dog. Well, the dog’s back was fluffy and white, its legs were soaked and covered in thick mud. The dog looked very happy. The owner, less so.
“Looks like someone found something fun!” I commented, nodding toward the dog.
“Oh, just wait. You’ll see.” she responded, rather cryptically.
After a bit, I started to see what she meant: puddles, big ones, right in the middle of the trail. Then mud, lots of mud. I tried to keep going, I mean, that’s one of the hazards of trail running, right? But then I saw it – the river had taken over the park and turned it into a swamp.
I’ve mentioned before that there is a river flowing through my fair city. Well, you might have heard that back in April there was a fair amount of flooding throughout the Midwest. Flooding takes a long time to go down, and it’s spring, so we are still getting regular rain. Because I had never walked these trails before, I didn’t realize how close to the river the park was. It was so close that now it was completely in the river. There was no going around it, and no going forward.
I wasn’t very far into my run at all. As I made my way back, I tried to figure out what to do. There was one side path, but it lead straight back to the river. Then, not far from the parking lot, I saw it: a picnic area. It was a fairly large area, not particularly well mowed, but not that bad either. It was big enough to be a track… and that’s what it became. I was running 1 minute intervals that day, and it took me about two minutes to get around – one running, one walking. Granted, I felt a little silly, but it was better than packing up and trying to go somewhere else, or worse yet, giving up!
Plus there are some advantages to track style running. I was able to pick out little landmarks and work at beating my own pace for each minute, and I found myself slipping into a nice zone. Sometimes, you just have to make things work the best you can.
I’ll hit that park again this summer when everything dries up. I still want to check out those trails!
Photo credit: shansby