Tag Archives: trail running

Born to Run

Well, as you can see, my NaBloPoMo intentions have fallen by the wayside somewhat. In fact, I didn’t even make it to Day 2! Oh, well. It’s Day 5 now, so I’m going to congratulate myself for not giving up completely.

I failed miserably to post on Day 2 because I got up really early that morning to go trail running in a nearby greenbelt, and I was so tired later that night that I fell asleep before blogging. As you can see from the pictures below, the trails, and the view, were quite beautiful, so it was almost worth it to see them and fuck up NaBloPoMo.

Unfortunately my iPhone camera couldn't really capture the beauty of the view.

If you look at the very top of all the trees in the picture above, you might just be able to make out some sort of building. I think it’s somebody’s house! It must be so wonderful to live up there, surrounded by trees and sky.

A rare overcast day.

There is something just so wonderful about trail running and, for all of my bitching about the town I live in now, I would probably never have tried it if I hadn’t moved here. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have got into road running. There are many, many things lacking in this town, but one very good point is that the great climate makes it possible to do outdoorsy activities year round. And, then, of course, there are some fantastic greenbelt areas close by. I wasn’t able to get to them before I owned a car but now that I do, I can go all the time! Friday was the first day that I really felt a sense of freedom from owing a car because it was the first time (why?!) I’d used it to get out into nature. I want to take my dogs to a different park or trail every week. My only regret is that my pit bull mix can be dog aggressive so I don’t feel comfortable letting her off the leash. It worries me that I’m ruining her quality of life by not allowing her to roam freely.

A couple of weeks ago I entered a 30K trail race, and I was the 3rd woman, which was quite an achievement given that I’m somewhat bored of running these days, and hadn’t really trained properly for the race. I’d have thought twice about entering a 30K road race, but I seem to be able to run, and run, and run forever on the trails without feeling much discomfort. I think it’s because I’m so busy trying to avoid tripping over rocks and tree roots that I don’t have time to focus on how shitty I’m feeling.

Despite how good running (whether on roads or trails) is for me, I have a hard time forcing myself to get off my lazy arse in the morning and out the door. Ideally, I’d get up incredibly early and run, but I’ll always find some excuse to stay in bed, and convince myself that I’ll run “later”. Very often I’m too tired to run “later” or I’ll do it but right in the middle of the afternoon, so my day is split annoyingly in half.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get into a routine, and develop some self-discipline? Sigh.


“Loan” not “Lawn”!

Sometimes having a Scottish accent can get you into all sorts of trouble in the US. Americans just can’t get to grips with my short vowels.

I just came back from my trail-running group in which I inadvertently managed to insult a Latino guy. I had overheard him talking about work and deduced that he did something involving “loans”. Later, at dinner, I was trying to make casual chit-chat, so I asked him what he did for a living. I said, “You work in the loan industry, don’t you?” and I couldn’t understand why he nearly spat out his drink and gave me a dirty look. He had, of course, understood “lawn industry” and not “loan industry”. In this part of the world, there are a lot of recent Mexican immigants who cut people’s grass or work in construction to get by. In other words, the guy thought I assumed that all people of Mexican heritage couldn’t possibly do anything other than cut grass!

Once I explained, everything was alright, and we had a good laugh about it. The guy was a bit of a dick, though. It turned out that he considers himself a libertarian, and I was quite disgusted. Now call me an inverse racist, but it bugs me when African-Americans or Latinos (and also gay people or women) could even think of being anything other than Democrat. Poverty rates for black and Hispanic people greatly exceed the national average, and Republicans and Libertarians don’t give a shit. All they care about is themselves. How is it possible to belong to an ethnic minority, which has millions of people struggling to make ends meet, and be a libertarian?! Obviously the Democrats leave a lot to be desired, too, but they’re still a helluva lot better than the GOP or libertarians. Oh well. I guess there are selfish cunts everywhere, no matter what their skin colour is.

Besides making an inadvertent racial slur, and having to deal with a libertarian, I’m enjoying being back in a running group again. Running is such a solitary sport, and I already spend so much time by myself, so I don’t really enjoy it if I do it by myself. I wish I hadn’t taken so much time off because there are some people in the group whom I’ve known for a couple of years, who were way slower than I am, and now they’re the same pace or even faster! There’s this one girl who asked what my fastest marathon pace was, and when I told her, she said “Oh, we’re the same pace now!”. Well, I’ll let her think that, but there’s no way this state of affairs will continue. It’s taken her two years of diligent plodding to get to what took me several months of natural talent and total laziness. Just think how fast I could be if I trained hard for once!

I don’t know if this is a bad thing about my personality, or if it’s just the way I am, but I am an incredibly competitive person. There are many things in life which I enjoy but I enjoy them even more if I can potentially kick some ass along the way. It’s very motivating to think about running faster than this woman…and I will (especially because she’s a Republican!).

One margarita, two cabernets…so much for the change of lifestyle

Well, so much for my Ayurvedic-inspired lifestyle change. It’s after 11:00 p.m. and here I am slightly pissed.

I can’t say I feel particularly guilty about it, though. I attended my first ever trail running class today, and it was fun! I’m used to road running, and have run three marathons, but nothing can beat trail running. Midwestern Man and I ran a 10K trail race this summer, and it was interesting how different a reaction we had to it. He found it boring and almost frightening because you have to watch out constantly that you don’t fall over rocks or trip on tree roots. This is exactly what I loved about it, though! I’ve very rarely experienced the so-called runner’s high by running on the road but I totally get into a zone when running on the trail. It’s precisely the risk factor which appeals – there’s no time to “ponder life’s complexities” (sorry, couldn’t resist a Morrissey quote) when you’re taking care not to break your ankle or are admiring the scenery.

Also, even though I know it’s not good for me, I do like the fact that the trail running group goes out for drinks afterwards. I joined a really hardcore running group this January, but I dropped out almost immediately because I just couldn’t deal with the anal retentiveness of the runners involved. All they did was sleep, eat, work and run. I tried to talk to them but every single conversation revolved around running. It didn’t seem healthy to me. This isn’t me. Despite all suggestions to the contrary on this blog, I love meeting people, and I get sad if I don’t. Trail runners have a reputation for endurance and socializing, so this suits me to the tee.

I found out tonight that one of the members of the “hard core” group ran a sub-3-hour marathon recently. This is very impressive for an amateur but, well, it’s still an amateur time, and he had given up his entire life for that! It just doesn’t seem worth making so many sacrifices for a sport which is essentially a hobby. I guess if it makes him happy, I shouldn’t judge but, still, it seems like an empty life to me. A self-indulgent, self-absorbed life, too, because, let’s face it, running is a very individualistic, solitary sport. I have met single-minded, obsessive people before but they’ve usually been artists or writers, and at least they’ve grown intellectually by focusing on their chosen field. Running, though? All you seem to be focusing on is your body.

On the other hand, it did occur to me that I reacted so strongly to this guy because, quite simply, I’m jealous of him. I’m not jealous of his speed because, well, if I trained hard enough I could be really fucking fast. I’m a natural runner, and if I really put my mind to it I could be great. But that’s just the problem, though…I don’t put my mind to it at all. And that’s why I’m jealous of him, because he does try hard and persevere. When I first met this guy, he really wasn’t a spectacular runner at all but now he’s fantastic. Sure, he must have some natural talent, but, ultimately, he succeeded because of sheer willpower, determination and hard work.

There are several things in my life which I could easily put more effort into because I’m good at them – singing, writing and running are the most obvious. And, on top of these main interests there are a zillion other less important things which interest me. There are people out there who are good at multi-tasking or who work at, and succeed in, several fields at once. I don’t succeed in anything! My focus is splintered off into too many areas all at once. I don’t really persevere in anything.

I do still think Mr Sub-3-hour-marathon is an empty shell of a person because running consumes him 24/7. But! But! But! I feel guilty for thinking badly of him because, ultimately, he can do what I can’t: stick at something and excel.

My main talent seems to be sitting on the sidelines to pooh-pooh the efforts of others, and telling myself that I could easily do better if I put my mind to it…without ever getting off my fat arse to try.

Little dog with a limp

running dog I’ve just come back from a run, and as I came in the gate of my house, a little dog with a limp ran past on the street. This is the third time I’ve seen this dog in the last ten days or so, which, given that it’s running about by itself at all hours without a collar, or an owner, would make you think that it’s a stray. I don’t think it is, though. It’s pretty fat and looks well-cared-for but, most importantly, it’s a dog with a fucking mission. You never see him idling away his time with sad, puppy-dog eyes, hoping some kind-hearted stranger will take him in. Oh no! He’s always running down the street, looking like he’s got somewhere very important to go. I’ve tried talking to him to see if he needs any help, but he always turns around, without even breaking stride, and gives me a “Whatever!” look. Hmmm.

My run was brilliant, especially because it’s been raining, and it’s so lovely and cool outside. When the weather is this mild, it’s like I’m floating through the air when I’m running. I used to go running late at night all the time, but this year I just got out of the habit. It’s probably a good thing, too, as it’s not good to get your body all psyched up at night when you should be trying to get ready for bed. If I could make myself go to bed earlier, I’d go running first thing in the morning, but I’m rarely able to do that. Whenever I have done it, I feel great, though! There is no better way to start the day than with a run. I always feel energized and invincible!

I have run three marathons, but I’m pretty bored of road running these days, and I have barely run at all this summer. I’ve decided to try something different, and so I’ve signed up for a trail running course that starts on Saturday. The goal is to train for a trail race early next year. There are three distance options (25K, 50K and 100K) and, since I’m a masochist and incredibly competitive, I want to do the longest one. I know I can do it. I love trail running. It’s so beautiful being out in nature instead of on some fucking boring suburban road. Trail runners are also more fun than marathon runners; for some reason, marathon runners are all white, over-privileged, Type A, obsessive, neurotic, control freaks with such empty lives that running becomes their everything; some trail runners can be like that, too, but for the most part they’re a bit grittier and don’t take themselves so seriously.

Today was much better than yesterday. It started off very badly with my noon session cancelling on me at the last minute. I cried onto my keyboard at this point because I just couldn’t have handled another day of sitting at home and making no money. Things did pick up later, however, and I saw two clients. They were even nice, which was such a relief, as I was depressed and couldn’t have faced dealing with any bullshit. The first one was a single dad with full-time custody of his kid. Apparently the mother is now a speed addict. Some people think guys who see sex workers are scum (and, well, some of them definitely have issues), but who can really blame a guy like this for his choices? Working full-time and then looking after his little girl, he probably barely has time to masturbate nevermind find some woman to date and have socially acceptable sex with! The second one was a pleasant but very dim-witted twenty-six-year-old who had apparently just dumped his fiancée in July even though they were supposed to be getting married at the start of September. He seemed very insouciant about this. He said his ex was a lazy bitch but couldn’t he have figured this out sooner instead of waiting until the last minute?! This guy was probably a complete arse, but he was so young and dumb that passing some moral judgement on his behaviour would be akin to passing moral judgement on a chimpanzee.

Ah, yes…feeling in a much better mood tonight. Why on earth did I stop running so much this summer?! I know it’s vital for my mental health.