This morning I ran in my first race since the Chicago Marathon. It was a brutally hilly 20 km trail run through the Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
I'm not really a trail running kind of guy. I'm not a big fan of hills and running on uneven surfaces requires more balance and physical coordination than I'm really capable of. Since nearly every inch of this trail was either uphill or downhill, each step seemed to require a skill that I do not possess.
The first 5 kilometers were uphill, some parts so steep that I had to walk them. We'll refer to this part as the "unpleasant part". I held my own here, but it was early in the run.
The downhill section started in the next 4 kilometer loop. This is where my awkward style of running really worked its magic on the damp course. I lumbered down steps, and slipped and slid down any significant decline, arms a flailin'. Meanwhile, other gazelle-like runners leapt past me. I think they were runners, anyway. This loop ended with a brutal 1/4 mile uphill that required walking again. I passed a couple of the gazelles on the uphill, but it wasn't pretty. We did this loop twice.
The last 7 km were mostly downhill. I spent this part of the race enjoying a newly-found tripolar aspect of my personality. My mood drastically swung between fearing for my life, loving the speed of going downhill, and wondering if I was lost. I only actually wandered off the trail once, but I worried about it all the time. My sense of direction is about as good as my balance.
At one point I took a fairly serious stumble and by the time I had righted myself, I had seemingly pulled a muscle in my calf. I screamed like a five year-old girl (trust me, I know what that sounds like), and spent the next two minutes assuring the folks running by that I was not seriously injured. After a few too many people had passed me while I was stretching my calf, (including this guy), I lurched forward, compelled, stupidly, by an overzealous competitive spirit. I managed to catch up to a couple of the passers.
It was, perhaps, the most dangerous run I had ever completed. It would not have been dangerous had I either decided to run within my abilities, or decided to ignore the runners passing me. Apparently both of these common sense alternatives eluded me at the time.
Oh yeah, and it was incredibly beautiful blah blah blah