Thursday, April 28, 2011

[34] Trail Blazin

Once all the Spring Break mail was sorted, I found the spring 2011 Runner's World Special: The Trail sitting in my post box. With spring setting up shop and summer coming quickly behind it, the flora of Westchester is finally returning to its state of lush beauty. A Florida girl at heart, I am used to flat land, high heat, and stifling humdity, but New York does provide ample shade, fewer brutally hot days, and nature galore. I was a Girl Scout for nine years, so somewhere deep down inside there is a nature girl screaming to be set free amongst the mud, hills, and woody areas.

I treated myself to a sumptuous yet healthy brunch at the Ritz-Carlton Lounge. The Spa Brunch was lovely with a bowl of fruit, Swiss oatmeal, a strawberry-banana smoothie, bran muffin, and choice of juice, tea, or coffee. I opted for tea (all I can drink) and a cranberry juice (to help with health), and by the end I felt full, refreshed, and ready to take on my day. While nibbling on my breakfast, I powered down. I stuffed my laptop back in my bag, chucked my iPhone in there for good measure, and flicked through The Trail by the fire place. With the lobby lounge almost entirely to myself, I became completely absorbed in the magazine. Alas, this serenity was short-lived as a trio of young, corporate hot shots came in, took the table next to mine (despite the room being empty), and started talking shop rather loudly. Though it caused me to cut my brunch short, I made considerable progress.

"Get Lost" (pages 2-5): If there was anything that would motivate me to take up trail running, it would be hoofing it through these exotic and scenic locals. Each month, RW puts a gorgeous two-page photo of a single runner booking it through some remote location. Simply looking at the vast landscape, it makes me realize how limited my running experience has been. Although, I've participated in destination races-- albeit they were all domestic-- they were all road races in urban areas. San Francisco. Washington, D.C. Walt Disney World. It wasn't like the sweeping plains of Owens Valley, California or the emerald green hills of Trail du Mont Blanc in Val Ferret, Italy.

What's Hot Now: "Cabin Fever" (page 17): In a world where we are fighting to find greener solutions to travel, I found this short article interesting. Instead of driving to the different huts and bungalows along a mountain trail, more and more trail runners are electing to run it! How much fun would that be?! I would love to do something like that, but I certainly would prefer having company, especially for safety. Also highlights the top four most popular cabin systems for runners.

Green Zones: "National Treasures" (page 19): I think the last national park I visited was the Grand Canyon on a family trip when I was in my early teens. At the time, naturally all I did was bitch and moan about the sweltering summer heat and staring at a (as I so eloquently put it as a mouthy kid) "a giant crack in the ground". Now, I am aching to go back, run in it, and catch a sunset (or sunrise) at it. I want to appreciate it as an adult. The thought of running through these scenic places is daunting, but it looks so rewarding at the same time. There are 56 national parks, so I should be able to find one I can run in somewhere, right?

Run Strong (pages 21, 23, 25, 27-29): Being a nerdy, trail running benchwarmer, I am in the research phase which comes prior to exploration. I do not have any regular local running partners (yet), so I need to be self-sufficient while out for a run. This section covers important topics for new runners such as hydration, fueling, handling crossing paths with wild animals, and essential packing list. It also continues to cover light injuries with "Body Repair", and a training plan for running that first Trail 10K in "One Month to Race Day".

Advertorial (pages 37-52; 16 pages): Highlights some of the prime trail running locations in top cities across the US, and includes suggested race to run and top local running retailers in the area. I think I want to try and tackle the New York area suggestions first before hitting up places like Seattle, Atlanta, Boston, or Salt Lake.

There is still half of the magazine left to enjoy, but I am certain I can knock that out after my afternoon jog tomorrow.

Inspiration gripped me, so I toyed with trail running. I hopped off the sidewalks into the grass when possible. The rain was falling, so I left my music at home and soaked in the natural sounds of my usual running path. I splashed through puddles, sloshed through wet gravel and sand, and tried intervals on a small hill outside the Manhattanville Castle (eight reps!). Though the weather was cool and I was heating up from jogging, I wore my long-sleeved  Nike Miler shirt (I need more of these) and my Tempo shorts (both of which were soaked through by the end of the run). Without music to distract me, I took in the sounds around me: the falling rain, my feet on the ground, and the occasional chatter of co-eds as I ambled by them. It was a nice change.

Growing up in south Florida, playing in the rain was a treat, much to my mom's chagrin. It was fine so long as there was no lightning, and at the first sound of thunder, I knew playtime was over. While the rain fell, I remmebered playing outside in the rain with my sister, cursing the rain as I dashed between college classes, driving slowly on the highways to avoid hydroplaning, and curling up on the couch in a blanket for movie marathons. I realized that these are all things I love about rainy days-- well, with the exception of driving through a torrential downpour on the highway with minimal (or zero) visibility. It made me wonder, when did I start caring about getting caught in the rain? Maybe it was in middle school when I first had to start changing classes. Being drenched to the bone, sitting through 50 minutes in the air conditioning, and then going outside to the heat and doing it all over again, was nothing short of miserable.

After the run, I decided that I no longer have an excuse not to run on days when the sun take a fiver and the rain clouds roll in. Granted, I will not be running or training hard, but so long as I am moving and burning some calories, I can justify (and relish) my couch surfing afterward. All it takes a little preparation and planning.

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