|Spider Lake Trail|
Despite steady grey drizzle, approximately 30 people turned out to run, splitting into three groups before hitting the trails: Fast, slow, and "just happy to be here" (a.k.a. "the slow group"). Since my shiny new trail shoes marked me as a newbie, I opted for the slow group.
We started the run on a rough logging road but quickly veered off on to rocky trail through a recent clear cut. The pace felt far too quick - though I somehow managed to keep up - and my heart was in my throat for most of the first kilometre. I couldn't take my eyes off the trail for a moment as I struggled to negotiate roots and rocks with rain obscuring my vision. Fortunately, the next few sections of trail took us into the forest where trees provided protection from the rain and the path was covered in deep blankets of pine needles which made running easier.
As I got accustomed to the slippery conditions and more confident my new shoes would do their job, my heart relaxed into a more normal rhythm and I began to enjoy myself. Hopping around rocks, running through puddles, and climbing over steep berms made me feel like a kid again. With my body loosened up, I felt stronger and steadier on my feet. Throwing caution to the wind, I careened down hills with abandon, yelping with joy (and, yes, relief) with every successful landing. It felt amazing - like being on some crazy carnival ride. Addictive stuff!!
On the way home, I realized there were two other reasons I enjoyed the run so much.
First, because the roughness of the trails meant I had no choice but to be totally present and attentive to what I was doing. There aren't many activities that force a pause in my incessant inner dialogue but trail running seems to be one of them.
Second, I enjoyed the camaraderie and support of running with a group - something I haven't done much of in the past couple of years.
Truth be told, I was really nervous driving to Spider Lake last night. What if only young, fast runners turned out and I couldn't keep up? What if I fell and hurt myself? As it happened, many in the group were younger and faster than me, but they immediately made me feel welcome all the same, and the leaders were so conscientious and well-organized I knew I'd make it back okay if I fell and landed head first in mud and rocks. In addition, running with other people encouraged me to run more quickly than I might otherwise so I finished the evening with a terrific sense of accomplishment.
Needless to say, I'll be joining the Club for a lot more runs this summer. 10 years into my running career, it's encouraging to know there are such new running adventures to be had, new running friends to meet!