It's a really pretty morning: 37 degrees, low clouds, tiny breeze that cuts through you but it's only intermittent. The dog and I had our morning walk through the neighborhood and between moments of admiring the morning I thought about my impending trail run.
I started running a year ago in January, using the Couch to 5k iPhone app. (I think it's actually called something else but the effect is the same - it makes a 3-mile-runner out of a non-runner.) I'd used the program before there were smart phones, using a stopwatch and having to look down at it every five seconds. I made it to a couple of 5k races and lost interest until two years ago when C started running. Actually, at the beginning of 2011 when he started, I was still not interested; it wasn't until July or August when he'd lost 50 pounds that I started paying attention. I also wanted in on this part of his life that was doing him so much good and that he was enjoying so much.
So in January C was coming off of a back injury where he'd had to take some running time off, and we both did C25K together. It was a rough few weeks, mostly in my head, but I made it. At some point, we stopped running together; we run at different paces and lengths and when he'd speed up a hill I couldn't keep up. I felt a lot better about myself when I ran alone; the only person I could compare myself to was me.
Then the end of the year loomed, and I looked back at my year of running and was super disappointed. I hadn't lost any weight at all; in fact I had probably gained a little bit. I was never able to get above 4 miles, I never improved my pace, and there were several weeks that I didn't run at all. Ah, there was the rub. I had barely run 150 miles in an entire year and I used these short runs as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. Even if I hadn't run at all that week.
So there I sat, on the couch, pouting; and then C laced up his running shoes for a quick run and left the house. So I laced mine up too, grabbed the dog, and followed C out. Except I went across the highway and into the woods.
The local university has a pretty extensive research forest. It includes an arboretum, a forestry area, intensive management, and miles and miles of trails. One trail in particular was recommended to me by a coworker months ago, and suddenly I had the urge to try it. I needed a change of scenery. So I did it.
I took about fifteen little running steps before the incline was too steep for me to bounce anymore, and then I hiked. The incline didn't bother the dog, who bounced everywhere, and I followed him up. Once the terrain evened out, I ran. And almost the entire second half was downhill, which felt really nice. I ran/hiked just under two and a half miles and loved it. I was almost totally alone, I could walk when I needed to, and it was actually kind of fun.
I write about this like it was ancient history, but it was only a few days ago. Today will be my third trail run. I kind of feel like those people I hate on Amazon or iTunes, rating products five stars when I just received it five minutes before, but I really am excited for this year and the potential for a big change in my health. It's not bad, going from disappointment of the past to excitement for the future in thirty minutes. All I needed was a change of scenery.