Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 19th: First Run at Umstead Park

My wife and I go hiking a Umstead park often. Every time we go their we see people running the trails, and I almost always comment on how crazy they are because I would be afraid that I would trip on root and fall. But secretly, I was envious of those people because I have always wanted to do just what they were doing; however, I was too out of shape to even consider it. I would see people running the trails and it would set off this deep feeling of regret because I've always wanted to be fit enough to run. I remember that as far back as Jr. High School I thought that it would be really fun to run cross country, and growing up in West Virginia and going to college in mountains of North Carolina, you couldn't ask for a better places to run trails (except during hunting season in W.V.). But, despite the strength of my desire, I used my weight as an excuse for not trying. I would go hiking sometimes and spent a lot of time in the woods camping when I was young, but I never tried to run. However, as I have lost weight and gotten stronger over the last few months, I began to think that I could actually run the trails in Umstead. And after running the 5k on the 12th, I couldn't get Umstead's trails out of my mind.

My wife and I usually hike the Company Mill Trail, which is a 5.8 mile trail. The first part of the trail leads from the parking lot to a small creek. Once you cross a small foot bridge the trail goes into a loop and you can go either left or right and you will eventually end up back at the bridge. This loop is 4.5 miles and consider to be a moderately difficult trail. At the top portion of the trail there is a small gravel road that cuts across the trail, and you can run the road to cut down the distance and difficulty of the run if you want. So, Saturday morning I got the idea that I would run the loop and cut down the road, catch the backside of the trail when it crosses over the road again, and then run to the bridge. I wasn't sure just how far this would be, but I figured that it would be near enough to 3 miles and when combined with walking the first part of the trail back and forth to the parking lot, I would have a good warm up, run, and cool down.

I left my apartment at 7:30am, which was much later than I had planned, but I was nervous and kept thinking of silly things that I need to do to prepare like takings unnecessary keys off of my key ring. It was around 8am by the time I started down the trail, but I was really excited. I had to stop myself from running before I got to the bridge, but I was able to wait. Once I crossed the bridge, I didn't hesitate at all, but I didn't bust out into a sprint either, just a normal pace. I was listening to The Black Keys new CD on my I-pod and running along the trail, and it felt incredible. Bring something that you've only dreamed about to reality is an amazing feeling. At first I was worried about tripping, but as I ran I got more comfortable and worried about it less and less. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to to run the whole route that I had selected but was determined to give it my best effort. The first part of the trail was the uphill portion, so I felt that if I could get to the road that I would have a chance. About a quarter of the way a round a group of five runners just blew right past me, but I still felt great because I was running just like they were. I made to the road with no real difficulty, but the road was a bit of a problem because I could see to far ahead and thoughts of walking started to creep into my mind a bit, but I was able to fight those thoughts off . I knew that walking would only make it more difficult to start running again, so I pushed myself to keep going. By the time I picked the trail again, the excitement started to take hold, and the thoughts of stopping were gone for go. In fact the problem now was that I didn't want to stop at the bridge like I planned and walk back to the car. I started thinking that I might just run back, but I knew that I need to stick to my plan, so when I reached the bridge I stopped running. I felt great, but I was so sweaty and it wasn't long before The Horse Flies found me. I HATE HORSE FLIES! They a evil, so despite my best efforts, I found myself doing a crazy looking half run back to my car trying not to be bitten by those bastards!!! So much for a peaceful relaxing end to my run. But, I didn't matter because I was able to do something that last year would have been the death of me. Stretching at my car, I remembered the first time that my wife and I hiked that trail, how much I huffed and puffed, and the many times that she had to stop and wait for me. And now I running it, I can't tell you how proud I felt

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