Learning to Walk the Hills

I know I don’t write blogs often enough, but that is simply because I only write when I feel a strong desire to get thoughts out.  Thoughts that I think may touch people in some way.  I never want to write just to write, and I also never want to write until I am sure of my thoughts.

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I think I have not written in the last 2 weeks not from lack of thoughts (my thoughts NEVER stop) but because I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to gather my thoughts.  Thought #1 ~One thing I KNOW for sure is I am not only a completely different person from what I was 10 or 5 years ago, but even ONE YEAR ago.  When people say “you find yourself in your 30’s” they weren’t kidding.  I feel like I grow with each day, and it is a fascinating journey.

Thought #2~One area that you will see changing is in my fitness life.  From the age of 5 I have been trained and taught to go as hard as you can when practicing/training.  In recent years, when running became the only competition I had, that meant going out and running as fast as I can for as long as I can.  I would finish every run as strong as possible, and go all out to the end.  This would translate to races, where I would cross every finish line with nothing left in the tank.  I ran 5Ks, half marathons, and in October a Marathon.  Throughout this, people would say it was easy for me because I was a “runner”, but they were only basing that on the fact that I would finish each race in the Top 3 in my Age Group, and at times Overall for females.  However, the truth was, not only was I not a “runner” but I hated it.  I dreaded my runs, but it was the one way I was able to still compete, and the energy of RACE DAY seemed to make the dreaded training runs worth it.

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So, as I stated, I finished my first marathon in October, the ING Hartford Marathon, running alongside my best friend.  It was an amazing experience, and I am happy I did it.  However, it was like the end of an era for me.  I crossed it off the Bucket List and thought to myself, now what?!?

Throughout the training for my Marathon, I would spend some runs in the woods, whether solo or with another friend of mine.  Her and I would explore the local trails and State Parks for hours, and every time I would finish the run not with relief (like on the road) but being disappointed it was over.  There has always been something about the woods that I was drawn to, 2 of my favorite things being hiking and mountain biking.  However, I never thought about trail running competitively because I didn’t think there were any races locally.  However, as I started to research it more, I realized that there were options, although maybe not as close by.

So, I made a decision for MYSELF…no more road running.  I would stay in the trails and train a different way.  I would walk the hills when they became steep, and throw out my old mentality that “walking on a run was not a successful run”.  I would take some advice from my more experience friend who has spent years in the woods, and instead of sprinting the last 100 yards of the run, I would stop and walk.  I would finish my runs taking in the beauty around me.

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In these last few months I have spent so many hours in the woods by myself.  I look forward to every run, and I still have to drag myself off the trails, not wanting it to end.  I have spent many moments running and thinking, and at times STOPPING to enjoy the views and thinking!  With this, I have set some goals for myself for 2013/2014:

  • TRAIL HALF MARATHON
  • TRAIL MARATHON
  • Trail 50K
  • FIND AN ADVENTURE RACING PARTNER AND GET BACK IN IT!
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One of Those Days

hurd parkOne of my favorite places to visit in the area is Hurd State Park. It sits adjacent to the Connecticut River, consisting of over 1000 acres.  It’s one of my top places for trail running, with one side of the street offering miles and miles of single track, non-technical, flat running, and the other side a little more technical, hilly  shorter trails.  It also has my favorite, “Split Rock”, a long rock ledge, offering the beautiful CT River as its backdrop.  This is where I go a few times a week in the warm months to clear my mind, “meditate” if you will!  I guess you can say it is my happy place.

Between the endless miles of single tracks and “Split Rock” lies a Pavilion with picnic tables and IMG_20121101_1127554 fire places.  Many times I run by it in the summer, seeing small parties using the fireplace and immediate get jealous.  Like many people, fires are mesmerizing to me.  For someone who is self diagnosed with ADD, I can sit there for hours and just stare at the fire.  Looking back, some of my clearest thoughts and conversations have happened over a fire.  HOWEVER, living in a condo, we are unable to have outdoor fires (big sigh).  So, I always tell my husband we should go there and use that fire place.  I wanted to do it so badly I placed it on my 2013 Bucket List!

IMG_20121101_095022So, this morning we sat at home thinking what we could do on our day off.  We thought about a winery, but figured drinking wine & having to drive home an hour wasn’t the best idea.  So, with the temperatures creeping toward the 40’s (balmy, right?!?) we thought it was a great day to go for a hike and start a fire!  It turned out to be a great idea.  I was able to do one of my favorite things, gather fire wood (I’m serious) and sit by a fire for a few hours with my two favorite boys!  This will be one of those days that I will look back on as winter approaches next year and think, “winter doesn’t always have to be that bad.”

I LOVE CHECKING THINGS OFF MY 2013 BUCKET LIST!!