Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Conquering the Trail

With the end of Fleet Feet's Sunday group run, I've finally switched over to Saturday long runs with the Chips. Chips group long runs will be great for my training, because Chips tend to be pace-conscious, have goals, and are usually training for a specific race. Plus, most of the Chips I run with are faster than me, which I can always benefit from.

I set out for my first official Chips Saturday long run last weekend, and drove out to the Nimbus Hatchery at lake Natoma. Coach Jen encourages us to incorporate trails in these "Lake Loop" runs, and I expected to go off-road a bit next to the bike trail.

We set out in a large group, and almost immediately were off-road on the decomposed granite paths. These gave way to meandering, narrower paths through think trees, often snaking around a short distance from the bike path. I knew I had to keep up, because with my sense of direction there is no telling if I would make it back to the bike path without the group!

We got to the halfway point in Downtown Folsom, and set out for the path back. I heard talk that we would be going up to the top of the bluff, and I was a bit hesitant. Not wanting to bail on my excellent workout with the group, and knowing I would slow if I did run alone, I fell in line to finish our 12 mile run.

Pretty soon, we were in a steep climb to the top of the bluff. I was thinking- "I thought trail runners walked up hills!" I kept up pretty well, and got to catch my breath while it was simultaneously taken away by the view over the lake. Not too long later, we descended, and took back to the meandering trails before heading up to the Hazel overpass and back to the Hatchery parking lot.

Once we stopped, I was so happy that I was able to hang on for the entire run. I was shocked to hear the others in the group say that they didn't know if they'd make it back- I wasn't the only one who was challenged! This run made me want to start trail running for real. I know a bunch of Chips run the trails regularly, and maybe I can tag along. I just need to be sure to leave my "I can't keep up" attitude at home, and go for it!

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