Thursday, May 29, 2014

Me. Just Me.

It's Thursday.
I thought about the specifics of this post while I was running a new (new to me) trail earlier this morning.  The words and phrases filled my head to a point where all I 'heard' was noise.  I refocused my gaze on the trail to keep my feet light over the technical terrain.
And now, here I sit, roughly twelve hours later and I just can't write.
Me.  Just me.
I've been on vacation all week.  Me.  Just me.

Memorial Day weekend kicked off last Friday night with much needed family time.  That pretty much summed up Saturday and Sunday, oh yeah, and Monday - we grilled, played outside, went swimming, got dirty, drank and had a great time.  I logged nine miles with a few of the Rainbow Runners on Saturday (kicking some serious ass in the final two) and hit the trails Sunday morning for a quick, but dirty four on the mountain.

A few months ago, I scheduled my ACE Health Coach exam on May 28th at a testing center in King of Prussia.  Since I needed to take the day off for the exam AND I would already have off for Memorial day, I opted to take Tuesday off.  Then I decided it would be dumb to go to work for two days, so I extended my request through the remainder of the week.  I planned for Tuesday to be a good training run at Trexler.  You've seen me write about this before (if you read my crap).  If you know me personally, I can't stop talking about this place.  It's my heaven and my hell.  I couldn't wait to get back there.

View from my car
The only real decision I need to make when I arrive is on the direction - Right or Left.  It's 8.5 miles no matter which way you go, but each direction is entirely different.  I decided to go right.  Almost every time I start running there (regardless of direction), I say to myself, "What the fuck am I doing here?"  And so the love/hate begins; the heaven and hell.  After about the first mile (always seems to take forever), I got into a groove.  I was going to kill the trail as much as it would kill me.  I settled on that fact as I charged forward.

The Summit
I stopped at the Summit to take a selfie (God, yes, I just said that).  I sent the picture to two friends who would appreciate the view (and get pissed off they were at work while I was out playing).  This specific location stirs up some memories for me; I always like to pause my run here to breathe in.  With no more than five minutes of downtime, I slung my CamelBak over my shoulders before chugging down the hill.
I distinctly remember Mile 4.  The mile marker is snugly situated at the bottom of a hill.  While carefully digging the balls of my feet into the terrain I silently repeated 'Effing Mile 4; Effing Mile 4; Effing Mile 4...' until I reached the top.  I never stopped; I just kept going.
There's a section of trail that opens up into what looks like a scene from The Lion King.  When I'm with a group, I break out into song (Circle of Life).  This time, I kept the tune internally as I opened my stride, flying through the scenery.  I turned an easy corner, came to a complete stop and took another deep breath.

Breathe Here
And with that, I was off.

I finished the trail in what would be my fastest time to date.  I ripped off my CamelBak before making it to my temporary resting spot.  I tossed my stuff to the grass and immediately took a calf relieving Downward Facing Dog.

Without going into too much detail, I drove to King of Prussia Wednesday morning to take (and pass!) the ACE Health Coach Certification exam.  The testing center was everything I expected - same levels of stressful monitoring (and bullshit rules) as I had encountered over ten years ago when I took my GMAT's.  My anxiety over this test began two weeks prior, especially over the math concepts I needed to apply as they related to BMI (and converting height to centimeters/weight to kilograms), heart rate intensities, ideal body weight/lean muscle mass, blah blah.  One hundred fifty questions and one hour forty-five minutes later, I finished.  I got nervous finishing so soon.  I had no plans to start from the beginning to review every answer, so I hit submit.  After advancing through an acknowledgement and nervously clicking through a crappy survey, I was presented with a passing score.  Yay.  Good enough.  I needed a drink.

Today, I ran.  Another trail.  Again.  Me.  Just me.

A New Adventure
After purchasing my mountain pass, I drove my car back to the trail head to park.  A group of older people, decked in L.L. Bean attire and donning walking sticks, had pooled in the gravel lot clearly waiting for another party before hitting the trail.  They seemed to descent upon me like flies to honey waiting with anticipation as I was asked if I would be going on the trail.  I responded, letting them know that I would be running the trail.  I could sense both disappointment and relief in their faces.
I spent five minutes fighting with my Garmin (another love/hate relationship).  Satellites - check; trip reset - check; feet go - check.  And into the woods I went.

I spent about ten minutes getting acclimated with the trail markings (after looping around in a circle twice - oh look, there's my car).  I paused a few times along the way to take some shots, but for most of my run, I never looked up.  Pick up your feet, girl!

Easier Footing

Don't Look Up

Not Quite the Top of the Mountain
I can see my car...

Another Bridge
The landscapers were busily primping the greens at the base of the mountain.  I could hear, in the distance, the sounds of a chainsaw.  I uneasily quickened my pace while painting a horror picture in my mind.  Woods.  Masked killer.  Chainsaw.  Great.  I can be such an asshole.  Based on my sense of direction (getting better as I get more lost in ANY woods), I felt the trail leading towards a clearing.  Yup.  That's what happened.  What I didn't expect to see was the chairlift in action.  I DID expect to see a masked man or a dead body hanging from one of the chairs.  Idiot.


Chairlift
I think I sprinted across the clearing still focused on looking down.  I wanted to be mindful of my foot placement and I didn't want to see the body in the lift.


Closed Trail Leading to the Top of the Mountain
A few of the trails were roped off.  I would have liked to run up the rest of the mountain.  Maybe it'll be open some other time.  

The trail wasn't exactly labeled well, but I followed what I could as best as I could.  I crossed over two clearings and all the chair lifts.  With my keen sense of direction (and faded memory of the trail map), I expected to begin my descent.  The next section is what broken feet are made of.  I had passed a 'Caution' sign and giggled.  I then turned around, not much long after, to take a snapshot.

True Story - No Joke



Silence was eventually replaced by the babbling of bear creek and soon, accented by the distant chainsaws and my quickened pace.  Although the trail ran down the backside of the mountain, a few quick rises in elevation challenged my hamstrings.  This trail is frequented by mountain bikers; God bless 'em.

Oh look, I see my car.

No, Thank YOU
I felt great as I approached the end of the trail, smiling.
I jogged across the parking lot and down a path next to the lake before turning around to power up the path's hill.  As I unlocked my car, I noticed a young man exiting a mini-van.  He looked hardcore with all his gear and visually light bike.  We exchanged pleasantries.  Hmmm, hardcore lookin' mountain biker.  Tattoos and piercings.  Mini-van.  Well that's interesting, I thought, as I piled into my station wagon.