Almost everyday I run on rocky rugged technical trails and afterwards wonder why I didn’t eat it. I navigate rock gardens, “speed” down steep terrain and slip and slide on loose gravel. Somehow my foot knows just where to land so I don’t take a digger...usually. It’s much like a flying helicopter. How does it keep from crashing? No one really understands how it works; it just does.
I guess I’ve logged enough miles that I feel at home on this type of path and actually get quite bored running down a smooth sidewalk. My trails lead me on exhilarating adventures in the mountains where I get to experience all sorts of beautiful sights, soothing sounds and fresh air. Lately wildflowers have started to show their bright faces and birds are singing in the first signs of spring.
|Franklin Mts. State Park, El Paso, TX|
Several weeks ago I volunteered a few days of my spring break and maintained some trails in the Franklin Mountains State Park. This fulfilled my service requirement for the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Trail Run that I’ll be running in June. Most 100s require runners to give back to the trail running community by working on trails or volunteering for a running event. Hundreds of runners in the wilderness take their toll on the land so in order to “leave no trace”, we need to make an effort to improve trails for everyone’s use.
Our trails in the Franklins can be characterized by rocks, rocks and more rocks, so guess what I did when I was out there last week? Right, I moved a lot of rocks off the trail using my hands and a McLeod, a tool named after US Forest Service ranger Malcom McLeod. It is a handy tool, a sort of cross between a large hoe and rake and is most often used in fire suppression. I got a great upper body workout by raking large ankle twisters away and leaving the small gravel on the trail.
Besides doing manual labor, I was able to get a few long training runs in. Along with four of my training partners, I ran the entire 29 mile Sierra Vista Trail in New Mexico. Following a gorgeous sunrise, we encountered jeep roads, sand dunes, a mama and baby cow, wind, Bishop Cap Peak, more wind, the Organ Mountains, wind, a tour of a new subdivision (yes, I took a wrong turn) and gusting winds. Did I mention that it was windy? My least favorite element to run in.
|Crocheted Running Man taking a break on the Sierra Vista Trail|
Nevertheless, we got in a lot of miles to help us prepare for the Cedro Peak 45 mile trail run that we will run in a few weeks in Albuquerque, NM. And just for good measure, I ran another three hours, including some good climbing up to 5500 ft, the following morning. Unfortunately the wind was still whipping, my fingers and face became numb and I almost froze from the wind chill. Spring has sprung, but apparently Mother Nature didn’t get the e-mail.
|Who wants to help me move all those rocks?|
See you on the trail.