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Keep Your Chicken Soup. Give Me Rain and Mud!

I don’t care what the books say, chicken soup can’t come close to what a morning on the trails can do for my soul.

After yesterday’s bad news and the interminably long day that followed I couldn’t wait to get out and run this morning. I was supposed to meet with the group at Marian Bear Park but with the constant rains the past few days I knew two things were going to be waiting for me:

1) A completely flooded trail system
2) An empty parking lot

I was right on both accounts. I got there to find the underpass connecting the east and west side of the dirt lot flooded up to the guardrail. I’ve “run” Marian Bear when the water is that high and I knew the trails would be nothing but knee to thigh deep rushing water.  There was no way we’d be running here today. Since no one was there yet, I decided to wait a bit to make sure no one would show, then I headed over to Tecolote Canyon. As much as I enjoy running with the group I was glad that I was going to get a solo run in this morning.

Tecolote Canyon will get pretty muddy when it rains but it’s always much more runnable than Marian Bear in these conditions. Sure enough I got there and it was raining pretty good but the fire road that makes up the first 1.5 miles was great with only one section getting washed out. The water coming down the hillside and across the trail was washing out the far edge of the trail making a really cool waterfall down into the run off/stream. I wish I would have had my camera to get some pictures because it was the first of a few really cool run offs.

After getting to the single track there were a couple slick spots but nothing too bad. (Tangent: I had on my Inov-8 X-Talon 212. There is no other shoe I would rather wear when the trails are muddy. These things are awesome.) Anyway, I was able to get in about 2.5 miles before the trail was shin to knee deep in water. I decided not to forge through like I normally would, instead I turned back and took an alternate way back to the start.

There is a series of steep fire road hills that follow the power lines through the canyon. These make great hiking trails but are really tough to run. I decided to go back by climbing these and it was fun until the last steep pitch of the first hill. I was a last second grab of a tiny branch away from sliding all the way back down the hill. I somehow made it to the top without injury or a mud covered body.

The fire roads lead to some newer trails along the upper edge of the canyon which was nice because the trails we’re washing out and made for much smoother running. The rain was coming down harder now though so I was soaked to the core on  the way back. All in all I got in a great 6 miles of trails.

The best part of the run was just being able to get out by myself and let the trails and rain wash away a lot of the sadness and anxiety that had built up over the previous 24 hours. Only a few times while I was out running did I think about what had happened and none of those times was I upset. Being able to get out on the trails really allows me to stop and look around and appreciate everything for what it is. While most people have been bitching about the weather, I went out this morning and felt like I was 5 years old and playing in the rain. Multiple times I stopped to watch the water running down the hillsides and carving out streams across the trails. I even went out of my way a few times to make sure I didn’t miss a puddle.

I know my Uncle Bud is looking down on all of us and I believe he’d be pissed at us if we were to spend our time crying over his passing. He’d want us to keep pursuing our passions, pushing ourselves to become better people, and enjoying our lives to the fullest. In no way am I completely recovered from yesterday morning’s phone call, but this morning’s time on the trail with my thoughts, the rain, and the singular coyote that stopped to watch me, went a long way towards helping me accept it.

Just for the heck of it, here are the maps and elevation profiles for the run. The elev profile looks worse that it is. Click the images for a larger view.

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