Thursday, May 26, 2016

Testing the Tricks of the Trail

After studying trail running techniques and purchasing trail shoes, it was time to seriously practice trail running.  Sue and I had thought this through and signed up for the Shootout at Blackridge 5K last Saturday, May 21.  But we both had brand new never-been-worn trail shoes, and as all runners know, you don’t break in new shoes on race day.  So on the Monday before race day, we laced up the shoes and drove ourselves all the way out to Herriman so we could practice the actual race trail.

It was a good thing we did.  The trail was much different than what we expected from the race description.  While there were sections where the trail was “two-track,” for the most part it was a single, mildly steep, narrow lane.  The good news was (drum roll, please) – it all worked!

My new trail shoes, Altra Lone Peaks, are marvelous.  They feel great and they really do hold the trail – both uphill and down.  The technique of taking smaller steps and using the upper body for balance was a huge success.  I laughed at myself as “little tiny steps – dance with the mountain” became my mantra on the downhill.  I smiled as I realized that I was going a lot faster than I had allowed myself to go before.

Then it was race day.  And instead of the sunny weather and dusty trail we had experienced before, we found ourselves – along with 111 other crazies – running in the wind and rain on muddy trails.  Once again the news was good.  The new shoes held the mud well – a little too well.  I felt like my feet weighed 20 pounds as the mud caked on the shoes.  But I did not slip.  Not even once.

This was not my fastest 5K.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it was my slowest.  But I felt really good about the practice, and am feeling more confident in my trail running ability.  My advanced age also contributed to this slowest-ever time still resulting in a 2nd place finish in my age division.  Sue and I were in the same age division in this race, so it didn’t bode well for the home team.  Sue finished a good 5 minutes ahead of me.  We both held our own against our much-younger competition. 

As we warmed up in the car after the race, taking care not to get too much mud on the floor mats, we commented that now there was nothing the Yellowstone Half could dish out that we couldn’t take.  And our shoes are now, well, a little more trail-worthy.

T-minus 16 days and counting down to the Yellowstone Half Marathon.  Bring it!!!

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