Catching up and boy there is a lot to write about. Writers block hits hard. I honestly view such statements like that with a little skepticism and brush it off thinking that how hard is it to put things on paper ‘a la’ blog post?
Well I can truly state as a matter of fact that no matter how much there truly is to write about I found it difficult to sort subject matter in order to start filling in the blanks. Ever try to go grocery shopping with half the list in your pocket, and which list you were to grab for what specific grocery store to start with makes it a little hard. Yeah yeah I get it. Go to one place, and grab everything and that’s that.
Not gonna happen, and as usual scatter brain happens more often. Glad I’m not in advertising for I’d have lost my job. Now with a little more effort this time around I have found that slowing down and scribbling ideas here and there have helped to paint a bigger and clearer picture. This is one of those clear picture moments.
I had started a running program at Cf Spero gym, and had been increasing distances, drills, and skills for the runners to prepare them for them running a half marathon, or 10k in the trails in the coming October race. Most had rarely if ever ran in a true trail so I asked them out on the team in the Cook County Forest Preserves near Palos Park, IL. This is an expansive trail network, and many a mountain biker and biker, and trail runner loves to train in all year around.
There are easy trails, moderate, and the hard trails. It’s not as hilly as other places I’ve raced before but you can surely train your heart out here if you’re smart. Getting back to my runners…. we had a plan of attack. Step one was locating our location, and trail head. City folks looking for an opening in the woods…. it is a blessing that these trails are well marked, but with late summer early fall setting in there has been good over growth due to rainy season here so on the trails, and the footing was challenging, and trail signs are hidden on a few turns so keeping your eyes peeled was step two.
Their first run in a trail was a success! Officially this was a five miler and some gps watches show it to be around 5.5-6 miles. Either way success. Lessons taken away that day:
- Gym shoes are just that, for the gym
- Heel striking isn’t going to get you anyplace faster, just more tired
- Trail shoes save lives (sliding backwards on muddy slopes averted) unless you’re wearing #1
- Hydration packs need to have water in them to work
- Hydration bottles can also be lost during your run while wearing #1 and not averting #3
- 5 mile loop is not a straight out and back ( you can’t fit triangle in square)
- Having electrolytes to take ‘during’ run is negated if you leave them in pockets
- Share the trail motto is lost on bipedals with pedals
- Skirting danger going up hill while said bipedals think they’re in Moab
- You can run, relax, zone out, and be happy on a trail. Racing or training.
See, I’ve made my first top ten list. 💥
I do believe that sharing such experiences with other people help to foster a sense of belonging and comradery few other things can. Sure you can knit in a group, but can you do it while running a 10k in beautiful sunlight and friends along? Nope, those pesky needles will get you every time.
Trail race #1 – Ragnar Northwoods in Wisconsin 9/21/19
Have you ever run a race when it’s so hot you never stop sweating? How about a race that is just plain humid all of the time that you’re just soaked without even trying to get sweaty? I see a few heads bobbing and hands are up yelling Amen!
We had a blast! The village has a fire pit going all day long, and even before we started our first run we stood by this heat only to see steam bellowing out from our bodies due to the humidity clinging to everything on us. You can only imagine post runs around the fire laughing our butts off telling our tales and drinking coffee, eating at the craziest hours, and trying to help the next runners for their leg.
Have you ever run a Ragnar trail race? Fun! Three loops consisting of 1) Green – short 3.1-4 miles b) Yellow – 4.1-5 miles and c) Red – 6.1-7 miles. Technical difficulties do differ on each depending what part of the country you race. I met up with my Ragnar Kentuckiana team from 2018 and we just had a better time in general.
Man oh man, we had a blast! Eight runners, tents, coffee everywhere and very nice Runners village. Food trucks, and since I’m always hungry while I train, or race this was my utopia for the weekend. Oh, did I mention they had beer?
My fiancé, Brian, Natasa, David, Laura, Annie, Becca, and I rounded out the Spero ‘Gio’s wrecked runners’ crew. Yes, they aptly named the team after me. How kind…lol
Some of us are experienced runners, and some not so much. However they got into the groove of running that they forgot that it is not as treacherous and difficult as they had made it out to be while they were out there in nature on all times of the day. The trick was just to keep their wits about them especially at dusk and overnight runs are mentally draining. They spooked the wildlife more than the wildlife spooked them during those night runs, but they don’t believe it when to,d that fact. They’ve sworn that the heard a wolf, bear, or Sasquatch on the trail with them this night runs.. lmao! But, you just never know right?
Finished – but not over. We had one more race to do in October and back to training when we got back.