Hitting the Trails

I can’t believe it’s December already – where has this year gone? I’ve spent the last 2 months enjoying my off-season – no structured training, no speedwork – just base miles on the road and the trainer. But I can only go so long before that itch returns, so starting Monday it’s back to business!

Usually at this time of the year I have my next season mapped out. It’s like a puzzle, and I love me some puzzles! You find a few key races, and then work in some “training races” and fun races around them. And there you have it – a jam-packed, fun-filled season! The planning is one of my favorite parts of the off-season. But once again, here it is December 1st, and I do not have my next season mapped out. I’m still in limbo as to which direction I’m going in next year, but I know that no matter what, I’ll have another great year of racing. Reuniting with friends I’ve made, meeting new ones, and enjoying unforgettable experiences with all of them!

So I’m starting my training cycle Monday, with no clear-cut goal in mind…yet. So why not take advantage of my amazing surroundings and spend some quality time with mother nature? I’ve always loved trail running/racing, and each year I vow to do more of it. I only squeezed 2 trail races into my 2012 season, and they were both a blast as usual. The best thing about trail racing? I don’t worry about my pace, or my mile splits, or even my overall time. You never know what lays ahead of you on the trail, so you just go out there, push yourself, and enjoy!

Just this week I realized that my local running club, the Lancaster Road Runners, hosts weekly nighttime trail runs throughout the area. I also noticed that most of them take place within miles of my house. I’ve been missing out! Thursday evening I ventured out and met up with 12 other runners decked out in warm gear and headlamps, and we embarked on our running journey into the woods.

Kelly's Run - where we ran Thursday night

Kelly’s Run – where we ran Thursday night

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time! This crew was great – they knew exactly where we were at all times. “If we cross over this mountain, we’ll be…” I wouldn’t have a clue in the daylight! I was just happy to have them to follow. Every so often we would stop and wait for everyone to re-group. No leaving anyone behind. Something about running over huge rocks and roots, through streams, hurdling downed trees, and quickly ducking out of the way of branches swinging at your face makes me feel like a kid again! I can’t tell you how many streams we crossed – my feet were soaked and cold and I loved it. I was having way too much fun! At one point we were climbing and climbing, only to end up in a big open field. The sky was perfectly clear and the moon shining bright. As we stood there waiting for the rest of the group, we commented about how perfect it would be to have sleeping bags to just lay there and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the night.

We started up again and the 2 guys out front ran into the woods, and the rest of the way back, without using their headlamps. Crazy! I felt bad running behind them with my headlamp on low – I didn’t want to ruin their ambience, but this rookie is not ready for trail running in total darkness. Maybe in another month 😉 I’m so excited to have found this group of awesome runners, and cannot wait to explore more trails with them throughout the winter. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll enjoy a post-run beer with them some night!

So now it’s set – I have added some great local trail races to my calendar over the next few months. That will keep me going through the winter, and the rest of 2013 calendar – that will fall into place eventually. Until then, if I’m not on the track or on the treadmill, you’ll find me on the trails!

2013 Trail Races On Tap:
Ugly Mudder – January 20
Squirrely Tail Twain Wun – February 3
Chilly Cheeks – February 24

I’m open to more suggestions!!

Happy Trails To You!

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