Monday, June 25, 2012

A random trail run

I haven’t written in my blog in a long time, and I’ve been meaning to put up and entry to catch up. The problem with that is I have so much I want to say that it overwhelms me. So maybe I’ll do a little recap of my most recent adventures soon. They haven’t been anything ginormous or anything, but a bunch of little “close-to-home” weekend excursions and things of that sort. This entry is about a simple trail run I did over the weekend, and I thought it was a good opportunity to try getting back in the habit of journaling things.

Adam switched to some 3rd shift hours, so on Sunday he needed to sleep during the day. We live in a teeny 2-room studio apartment, so I decided to hit the woods for some trail running while he sleeps… it would be difficult to keep quiet enough for him to sleep in such a small place. Hey, any excuse is a good excuse for me to hit the woods!

I packed my small running pack with 2 liters of water, half of a PB&J sandwich, a Ritz cracker bar and a small bag of mountain-style trail mix. At first I was thinking about hiking, but decided I wanted to get some miles in, so I decided to trail run instead… this mattered for footwear choice. Hiking would mean Brooks Cascadia trail runners. Trail run would mean Vibram Five Finger (VFF) shoes. So I wore the VFFs, my running capris, a sleeveless shirt and a bandana because it was hot and I knew I was going to get sweaty.

Off I went… drove an hour to the Parnell Tower parking lot in the Northern Unit of Kettle Moraine.

Trail on the Parnell Loop

The Parnell loop is a nice, single-track hiking trail that winds through the woods for 3.5 miles. There are lots of rocks, roots and hills on this loop trail, and I was really excited to hop-jog along the trail on such a nice day. There’s also one gigantic steep hill that I remembered from backpacking there, and I wanted to run down it really bad. But because I wanted to run down the hill, I decided it would be pretty tough to run UP the hill, too. So what does Robin do? Runs the loops two times, once each way. That way I got to run up and down that crazy hill. And it was great both ways.

I started running the route so that the hill would be at the end, and I’d run UP first. Then I’d climb the Parnell tower, and run back the other way, running DOWN that same hill. On my first time around the loop, I was on the trail for maybe 2 minutes and found a blackberry bush with about 10 beautiful, plump blackberries ready to be eaten. So I had to stop and pick them. They were delicious! What a great way to start! The sun was shining through the leaves onto the trail and there was just a slight breeze. It was hot, but I was mostly in shade… this is one of the reasons I LOVE to trail run!

I enjoyed hopping from side to side around rocks and leaping over large roots, quick-lunging up hills and loping down others. I was sweating like a crazy-person, too. Ahhh, yes.

Then I rounded a corner and there was something moving in the trail ahead of me. I realized that it was 2 little baby raccoons. I had to stop and get pictures – they were SO cute!! The pictures weren’t turning out too great, so I took a little video, then I was able to snap one good photo of the two babies sitting on a log. I know coons are kind of nasty animals, but these little guys were so adorable I wished I could’ve taken them home with me! But I’m sure Peanut (my cat) would NOT have been happy about that. Adam probably wouldn’t have been a fan, either.

Cute baby raccoons!

 Then I wiped out! My right foot JUST grazed the top of a root and my left foot was still too far behind to come up and catch me, so I went down. I was able to roll my body so that I didn’t face-plant, though. I thought I was pretty smart for thinking so quickly! I landed on my shoulder in the middle of the dusty trail. I wasn’t hurt AT ALL. I felt great, in fact! I laughed, stood up and looked back where I fell. For how many rocks and roots stick up on this path, I was feeling pretty lucky that I hadn’t landed on one. I fell on a totally flat spot in the trail. I was just dirty from being super sweaty and landing and rolling onto a dry, dusty trail. I squirt a little of my water onto my hands, rubbed them together and trucked on, smiling the whole way.

After I got back to the start, I ran up the Parnell Tower and ate my PB&J, drank some water, then head back the other way and DOWN that huge hill. It really was fun both ways. The second loop went better for me speed-wise, though I wasn’t really keeping close track. I didn’t even set the chrono on my watch. I also didn’t stop for baby raccoons or blackberries the 2nd time through – although admittedly I was keeping my eyes peeled for more berries… I did have a deer spook me, then leap off into the woods and snort at me a few times. That was pretty cool. Once through the second loop I climbed the tower again, enjoyed the high-up breeze, snapped a couple of photos and head back down to the car. I filled my water, ate my trail mix and head over to the Greenbush Picnic Area. I wanted more!

I picked the largest loop at Greenbush (why wouldn’t I?). It was 5.1 miles. So that would give me a total of 12.1. I figured that was probably more than I should do since I haven’t been running big miles and haven’t trail run in a while… and my legs were already sore from muscle conditioning the day before… but whatever, I did it anyway. One of these days this will catch up to me.

Anyway, off I went. The trails I was on this time are cross-country ski trails in the winter, so they are nice and wide, and the hills aren’t quite as short and steep, but I still had a few good hills to work with. It was labeled as “Most Difficult” as far as ski signs go. During the Parnell loops I concentrated mostly on my running, but on the Greenbush loop I found myself working through some issues I had going on in my head. I was so glad I took this trail, even though it hurt my legs pretty bad. Working through life as you run sure helps the time fly! Before I knew it I had to wrap up all my hypothetical conversations in my head because I only had another half mile! It was therapeutic, for sure. I felt balanced and happy after all 12.1 miles.

I sat on a picnic table, snapped a few photos, picked the weeds from between my toes and cooled off in the breeze. I then jumped in the car, ate my last snack, drank a bunch of water, and decided to head home. Great day, great run.

Grass between my toes

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