Hi everyone! I’m super excited about today’s post, mostly because it’s a post I never thought I would write. See, I’m a total klutz 90% of the time. I trip over the floor, fall up stairs, and have turned my ankle more times than I ever want to admit. Plus, I’ve been to the emergency room tons of times for totally ridiculous reasons (one time I choked on a carrot and then it got stuck in my throat, causing me to have a coworker drive me to a hospital in Philly where they had to stick a camera through my nose to look down my throat. Not fun.). So while I do enjoy doing things that have a bit of danger and excitement to them, I do tend to stay away from activities that will most likely injure me. Until Sunday, when I decided that now that I live in Alaska I need to start trail running! This week I am proud to announce that I tried trail running! The circumstances that put me in the mood to trail run were pretty crazy. Basically, my new job has been stressing me out beyond belief. I only work 4 days a week now (but they’re 10 hour days) and each day I come home mentally drained, stressed, and embarrassed about all the stupid mistakes I make at work all day long. Starting a new job is not fun at all, and I’m hoping I can get better at it soon! So after 4 days of stress and embarrassment I was in the mood to run somewhere new and secluded. I love my waterfront runs but today I wasn’t in the mood to see coworkers or tourists walking along the trail. So I headed off towards Two Lakes Park, a quiet park located behind the Avtec building on 2nd Ave. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’d seen a few pictures of the park online and figured that the trail was going to be easy to run. Um, no. I was immediately greeted with large tree roots and rocks on the trail. While this trail would have certainly been fun and easy for me to walk on, running was a totally different story. I have zero experience with running on trails so this was a big shock to me. I felt like I was doing some kind of spastic jerky hiking – I would run, then stop to jump over some roots, then jerk to the right to avoid more roots, then tiptoe down a steep section of loose dirt. I looked ridiculous! At first I didn’t have many good lake views, and I was really annoyed by the terrain and nervous that I was going to wipe out and no one would ever find me. Plus I wasn’t able to look around much since I was too afraid to look up from the ground, and I was terrified I was going to run into another moose with way less warning! As the trail started going downhill I could see lake #2 and the small trail that led around it. When I came around the corner I saw this view! The lake was beautiful and I was so glad that I had decided to do this run. I’d only seen 1 other person on the trail, and being out there alone was just what I needed to make myself feel better. As I took off down the trail on the other side of the lake, I started to relax and fall into a good rhythm. Then I noticed that there was a parking lot on this side of the lake – and a nice gravel road to run on! Score!
I also got to jump across a creek and check out a pretty waterfall. Once I got back on the trail again, I realized that this side was much flatter and prettier than the other side. I loved how quiet the woods were over here and how green everything was! I finally got back to lake #1, but I was on the other side of it from where I started! I realized that the main trail had branched off in 2 directions close to the beginning and if I would have gone left instead of right I would have been able to start on this side. Even with my rough start, I reallized that I was actually really enjoying myself and that the second half of the trail had been really fun and easy. So I decided to run it again to get back to the start! Once I got back to the beginning I noticed another trail that boasted more waterfall views. There was a trail that went all the way up the waterfall, but I was really not feeling that!
At this point I’d only run 2.5 miles total – the trail was only about 1 mile from start to finish – and I wasn’t really feeling like I wanted to go back home yet. As I ran down to 2nd Ave. again I thought to myself “Why don’t I just do my 6 miler today instead of tomorrow?”. So I did! I finished my last 3.5 miles on roads and the waterfront trail, and while I started to get tired at the end I felt pretty good overall. Lately I’ve been getting side stitches almost every time I run but I didn’t get that on Sunday. I felt almost back to normal, and I was really excited that I was able to randomly decide to do 6 miles and actually get through it! Plus I saw sea otters on the waterfront trail, so that’s a win! So what do I think about trail running? Right now I give it a 3 out of 5! What I liked:
- It was much more secluded than my normal running routes. I saw maybe 3 people total on the trail! That was just what I was looking for and I was glad to know that this park exists for whenever I’m feeling the need to get away from everything!
- The views were really pretty and were something I could never see during a normal run.
- It was a unique challenge that made me look at running differently.
- I was able to combine my two loves – running and hiking!
- I felt like a much more hardcore runner running along that trail vs running along the sidewalk
- The day after running I felt like it used muscles that I don’t usually use during running
What I didn’t like:
- I felt like I was going to trip the entire time. Roots are not my friend when I’m walking, so running over them made me nervous!
- There was much more elevation change with trail running. Hills are something I am constantly working on, but I definitely need more practice if I’m going to trail run on a real trail!
- I was so distracted trying not to trip that I was unable to check for moose and bears. I feel like I need a non-distratcting trail so that I can pay attention to other things while running
- I felt stupid jerking and swerving all over the trails! Hopefully that will improve with practice?
- I didn’t feel like I could get into the running zone for a while – that is something I love about running so I feel like this was missing the best aspects of running!
- I ran MUCH slower than usual – one of my miles was 3 minutes slower than my usual mile pace! I know it’s because I’m spending so much time jumping over things and trying to safely get downhill, but it was kind of depressing seeing that slow number when all I want to do is run faster!
I think this is one of those things that you need to ease yourself into and will appreciate once you’ve gotten more experience with it. I am really glad that I hadn’t seen the trail before running it because I would have talked myself out of it for sure. Sometimes trying new things when you’re in a terrible mood is just what you need to feel better though! I will definitely run there again and will update you on if I improve or not!
Have you ever been trail running? Would you ever try this? How do you feel about running in the woods?