Hills, miles, rain: Smiles!

I’m feeling stronger every day. The more I push myself beyond what I have taken to be my limits, the more I find that I can do.

Last Saturday I did a steep uphill hike, followed by three and a half hours of heavy work in the community garden. We were laying out large pieces of used landscaping fabric obtained from a local nursery, removing railroad spike-sized staples, assessing the condition of each piece of fabric, refolding, and placing them in graded piles for future re-use in the walkways between each plot. My hands were sore the next day, but other than that I felt great!

Sunday I went out and nailed a 10 mile run at a pace I could only dream of just a couple of months ago. At the beginning I wasn’t sure what might be a reasonable pace for that distance, so I just started running and let my body decide. Near the end of the first mile, 10:35 was feeling comfortable. I was glancing at my watch only about three times per mile, but for each of the first eight miles my pace varied by no more than 13 seconds either way. Mile 9 was slower at 10:54, but I ran mile 10 in a very satisfying 10:06. I finished on a 10:32 average pace, feeling strong, happy, and not all that slow. I must have actually looked like I knew what I was doing, as I got more than the usual number of nods, smiles, and thumbs up from the other runners, walkers, and bikers that I met along the way.

Monday I didn’t do any exercise at all, but by Tuesday I was raring to go again. I started the day with 4.2 miles in the rain. Miles 1 and 2 were relatively flat while mile 3 was a steep uphill and mile 4 returned down that same hill. Miles 1, 2, and 4 were all sub-10 minutes. I walked a bit of mile 3 but still managed to do that one in 11:26, which gave me an overall pace of 10:15.

But I wasn’t done. On last Saturday’s uphill hike, my hiking friend and I were stopped just short of our goal by four inches of packed, icy snow on a wobbly log bridge over a small stream. I just didn’t feel steady enough to get across that bridge. Between then and yesterday we’d had some warm weather (as high as 68 degrees! Woot! It’s finally spring here!). So off we went in a warm, gentle rain to tackle that same trail again. Sure enough, the snow had melted just a little, and there were places on the bridge where it was quite possible to get a secure foothold. We were able to cross the bridge and go the last 100 feet or so to an area where, I am told, there are primitive campsites for those who are continuing up this trail to the high back country.

I took some photos, but my iPhone camera is not really up to the task of capturing a rain forest. Perhaps I should carry my good camera next time.

It’s an exercise in multi-scalar appreciation. The trees are massive, but they are draped in tiny mosses and lichens that look like miniature forests. There are blown-down trees everywhere, and each of them is a nursery for the next generation of trees. There are miniature waterfalls that invite visions of wee fairies dancing in their spray. It is a wonderland… and it is practically in my back yard. This particular trailhead is less than 15 minutes from my house.

I love this place.

I love the magic of it, and I also love that I am able to participate in it. I can go out and run hills in the morning and then hike really steep hills in the afternoon. I can get up the next morning eager to do it again. I used to need three days to recover from a run, and wouldn’t have considered hiking between hard runs. Now I’m finding that I just do it, and every time I do I feel stronger and more ready for the next time. Maybe it’s the compression tights (which I wore not just for the runs but for the hiking and gardening as well), or maybe it’s the cumulative effect of all those hours and miles I have put in over the past few years. Whatever it is, I like it!

This is momentous. This is awesome. This is sort of addictive!

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Posted on April 25, 2012, in LIfe_goes_on, Nature, Place, Running and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Nice trails, you must be due for a trail race soon to try out your new found speed and strength!

    • Pete,
      I’ve only done a little bit of actual trail (meaning dirt/mud/roots/gravel) running so far, but on my hikes I am finding places where I would LIKE to run… so I suspect it’s just a matter of time before I will.

  2. Awesome that you’re exceeding you own expectations! I love your magical forest. I need one to run in.

    I ran this morning for the first time in weeks. I think I pushed a bit too hard, because I didn’t quite make it to 15 minutes. Guess I’ll go a little easier the next few times, and settle to catch you up with your several-miles-each-time in a few months. 🙂

    • It amazes me that only a year ago I was still telling myself “just run to that next tree, and then you can walk for a while.” It was such a thrill the first time I ran a full mile without stopping! Now (unless it gets steep) I am good for an hour or more before I even think about walking, and then only for a few steps. You will get there soon enough!

  3. What a wonderful addiction, I say! And what a beautiful setting you are in as well! Wow! I can understand why you feel rooted and replenished in this lovely part of the country. I hope you’ll share about the community garden throughout the growing season. I have a keen interest in discovering what grows best in different regions! What a fun read 🙂 Debra

  4. Debra,
    There isn’t much to see in my garden plot yet, other than a perfectly shaped dome of mulch through which only a few weeds have dared to emerge. I’m thinking about buying some starts this weekend, though, so I may have garden photos to share soon!

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