Why Trail Running???

So, you might be asking yourself,especially if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, Why trail Running Mitch? Why is it that you post so many things on trail Running? That is probably a very good question. Afterall, I am not a sponsored runner, and I have yet to win a race (although I DID place 3rd in my age-group in one race), in fact, I am just a middle-of-the-road runner. So why all this time spent on it? Well, I started asking myself that question a few weeks ago, and while I still do not have all the answers to that question, I thought I would write about it.

Some Quick background about myself, for those that do not know, I was born and raised in the Bay Area, where my sports have included, competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Surfing, triathlon’s, and Mountain Bike Racing. I was never really a runner, and in fact, I didn’t like running when it came to racing triathlon’s. It was just part of the Race, and thankfully, not a long part of it.

Fast Forward to my Family moving to Colorado, and all of those Sports pretty much fell by the way-side. Yes, EVEN the Mountain Bike Racing, which is odd since some of the Best Riding in the World is right here in Colorado. Well, I started Coaching High School Lacrosse at Castle View High School, and part of pre-season training entailed having the team go on these 2-3 mile runs a few times a week. I would wait in the Parking Lot while the team went out, even the Head Coach would run. I was really kinda big at this point (pushing 285lbs) and just couldn’t do it. That really got to me after a year or so, so I started trying to get in shape, and figured that running would be the best athletic activity for me to achieve my goal of being able to run with the team. But as I said above, I still didn’t really like running. I didn’t like running on the roads where there were SO Many people who would see me. Then one day I read about Trail Running. To me, it sounded like Mountain Biking for runners. It was about that time that the Town of Castle Rock (where I live) opened the Ridgeline Open Space area. I went for a hike!

One of the Trails at Ridgeline Open Space

Once I came back from the hike I thought, I can run there, AND there are not a lot of people around, and NO Cars! While I could run there, It was much more difficult than just getting on a nice flat road and running. This might be a little more difficult than I thought. I realized that my pace times were way off from what I was used to, but I assumed that would be the case since there was quite a bit more elevation gain and loss. I started running out at Ridgeline Open Space all I could, every run was out there. Then some friends of mine “encouraged” me to run a Marathon with them. I remember saying that I couldn’t run that far, and that I would possibly do the 1/2 marathon. The reply that I got was, “the Full is only $10.00 more” I was NOT worried about the Money, I WAS worried about the distance. Eventually signed up for the full marathon, and started training. I tried to work as much Trail Running into my Training Plan, but that really only worked for my shorter runs. I ended up finishing my Marathon, and was not really happy with my results. I can now say that I completed a marathon, but I didn’t like the amount of training i had to do, without running on the dirt! The answer: Shorter races, less training and I could use the trails around my house. I started looking around, and found some short races, but they were more in the Fall and Winter. WEll, during the Winter here in Colorado, there is this stuff called SNOW.  I realized that if I could Mountain Bike Race in all sorts of weather, then I could also Run in all sorts of weather. NOW things would get Fun!

Top of one of the Ridgeline OS Ridges, nice and snowy!

So I was able to do a couple of Winter Races that did include snow, and some that just included COLD Weather, but I thought that I had found something that I liked and something that would keep me in shape. After doing a season of runs, I started to look for information on Trail Running and tried to find people to follow on blogs and other Social Media sites. I found one in particular who had run multiple Ultra Trail Races, and it sounded interesting. The only problem, was I wasn’t sure that I had the time, or desire to put in the long training time involved. You see I had found some 1/2 marathons that were trail races and It seemed that I could manage a good training regimen without really even thinking about it. You might remember at the beginning of this Blog, I indicated that I was not a Sponsored Runner, AND I had not won any races. I was more of a weekend/social runner. I liked going out a couple of times a week and spending time with my friends, but It was not serious training. I even found a weekly “Pub Run” at my local Running Store. We would meet, run 3 or 4 miles, and then the shop would supply Beer and Brats for all, while we would sit and chat. More Social Running.

So that pretty much brings me to today. I am more of a social runner and I want to try to stay in a little bit of shape.  Then I Happened! I found out that the guy who sells me my shoes (and 2 time Olympian runner for New Zealand), Mike Aish had run, and WON the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile Trail Race! Leadville Colorado sits at 10,200 feet in altitude, and the race ONLY goes up from there. It is a tough race, and he had never run that far before. Since he had won the race, and on a bet, entered the Leadville Trail 100. Since he was running it, I decided to go up to Leadville and Cheer for him, along with some of the other folks from the Shop, including employees and customers. It sounded like quite a fun weekend. I also found out that the race needed volunteers, so i decided to volunteer for one of the Aid Stations. I think it is really great when I am at a race, that there are som many volunteers, helping me get to the finish line. so I thought that it was important that I do the same.

The Starting Line of the Leadville Trail 100. JUST before 4:00am!

Needless to say, going to Leadville was one of the single most fun trips I have been on! It sounds a little corny, but this Trip to the Leadville 100 to watch a friend run, and the ensuing time I spent volunteering was enlightening to say the least, almost Life Changing. NO, I will NOT be running the Leadville Trail 100 Run next year. Let’s not get carried away here. But it has put some ideas in my mind. It has made my desire to run on Dirt, even stronger. and has made me really think about training. It is good to have goals that one tries to achieve. It is good to have goals that push you to your limits. So, after this past weekend, I have decided on a couple of goals- 1st is starting September 1 through September 16 i will be doing a 100 mile challenge. Might not seem to difficult, but that will be averaging 6 miles a day for 16 day-no rest days, AND I will still need to make up 4 miles along the way. Also, I have averaged 20 – 25 miles a week, so that number will jump dramatically. the 2nd goal-I will be running in the Leadville Heavy 1/2 Marathon in 2013. This will probably be the hardest 1/2 marathon that I will ever run. the 3rd and final Goal-I will run in a 50K Trail Race sometime during 2013, that is 30 miles of trail goodness, and will be the Farthest I have ever run in a single run! This will take a bit of time to find which 50K will be the best one for me to start on.

So, Maybe I didn’t answer the question, “Why Trail Running” and maybe I did, but for now, I will continue to Trail Run. I will do it with a New Found desire, thanks to Mike Aish and the Leadville Trail 100. And I have some goals, that I now have put in writing, for all to see.

Next up for me, the Denver Trail 1/2 Marathon on September 8th at Cherry Creek State park, and then the Bear Chase Race 1/2 Marathon on September 30th. Then I will be able to start looking for my 2013 50K. I also might look into the creation of a New Shirt! “Asphalt SUCKS! Dirt RULES!” Hey, it could be a Seller!…..Maybe

 

Mitch

 

 

 

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