Friday, April 30, 2010

Muddy adventures

So I've had this little obsession with trails lately. I think it started when I went back to Memphis and enjoyed my long time fav yellow trail. I've been in search of all local Ridgeland trails the past week. Now I definitely appreciate the multi-use trail that is approximately 400 yards from my front door. But it's paved, and runners know what that means. Excitingly they're extending it along the Trace in the other direction, and they haven't finished, which gives me about 2 miles of hard packed dirt with a few dozen hard-hatted construction workers to dodge. It's a real off road adventure. But being only 2 additional miles leaves me looking for more mileage. 

I heard of the elusive privately owned trail system near where I ride my bike, and set out to find it. I had specific directions but would have still taken a wrong turn if I hadn't trusted the car in front of me when turning off onto what looked like someone's driveway.

Use of the trails requires a membership or at least a day pass, and I found myself with only a $20 in cash, which was well above the day use fee.  *I promise I'll pay next time!*

There were a few other cars with bike racks parked in the dirt lot, so I assumed I'd be dodging and dodged during my run. I never saw another person (and yes, I had my phone to call 911 if bitten by a snake; and yes, I'm more afraid of snakes than other people!).

After giving the trail map a quick glance and deciding not to bother even trying with it, I ran into the woods and found beautifully manicured, smooth, winding trails.  Now look at this picture and tell me it's not adorable:

I imagine"adorable" isn't exactly what they were going for, but it is! After wandering around for about 40 minutes, not having a clue where I was despite the random orange and black arrows, I suddenly came upon this:

Well of COURSE! That's where I am! See the small black arrow on the right? And then I popped out into the open trail leading to the parking lot. I decided not to risk going back in again, since my run plan was for a length definitely shorter than a few hours, and the potential for getting lost was great. 

A few days later it was time for a rainy trail run. Jeremy may not get quite as excited about our little adventures as I do, but he was up for it. This time we headed to the Natchez Trace hiking trails. Unfortunately, I got us lost, insisting that the trail that had wound up on the road after a quarter mile continued on the north side of the trace instead of the south side. J was right, but not insistent enough. We ran a few miles on the road before finding a bridge that crossed a muddy gravel road. After sliding down the hill from bridge to road underneath, we ran a few miles on it, then a few more on some pavement, then found the real marked trail, which we took back toward the original parking lot. 

The excitement about running the trails around here, especially those near the Reservoir, is the possibility of a significant wildlife sighting, in particular a sighting of one of the 3000 gators that live in the lake and river. Still nothing I've seen, not that I haven't been trying. I've nearly run off the road on my bike staring down stumps with interesting spiky patterns. The search continues. Jeremy and Laura have both had sightings of some sort. I'll keep you posted. 

Now off to find more trails!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Real Race Report

Unbelievably, it's been a week and a half since the wedding! It all went by so fast and was truly more than I could've imagined. I spent the entire week before at Mom and Dad's house, where I had some pictures taken,

did a few trail runs and group rides, and finished final race, er, wedding preparations. Megan came in town to help, followed by Jenny and Tim, and my flower girl and ring bearer, and Ethan, of course! 

It turned out to be a beautiful day with perfect weather. I think my obsessive checking every 3 hours helped. 

I'm not much of a party host, so having so many friends and family there for MY party was pretty cool. Thank you all for being part of it!!

And I must credit Christen Jones for her amazing photography skills. We even got posted on her blog, here!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I couldn't have imagined a more fun wedding! I'm definitely excited about pictures, but I think this video is a true highlight. 

Jackson will be 4 next month, and I sure learned a few moves from him!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trail of Gold

Also known more commonly as the Yellow Trail, this is my absolute favorite trail in Memphis. Having run most of my trail miles on this one, I have lots of memories. I trained for my first marathon and at least a couple of Ironmans on it -- many miles. It wanders along on the north side of the Wolf River for just about exactly 4 miles one way, depending on where exactly you start. The trail consumes 2-3 feet of width along its whole length, and it's nice hard-packed dirt with some sand and the occasional root. When I was running there frequently, my feet seemed to know these roots and glide smoothly over them. I distinctly remember one web of roots that created a perfect arrow pointing toward the river at about the one mile mark, but today I couldn't find it.

One of the first memories on the trail was from high school. I was on my way to my first run with mileage in the double digits, and my running buddies were my sister and boyfriend-at-the-time. I was lucky enough to witness Jenny and her epic tripping over a root. She sailed through the air like superman. I'll never forget that sight. I wish somehow I could paint a picture of it... wait, hold on...

Yeah, that's pretty much it. Now you can see why I couldn't breathe I was laughing so hard.

I've run on the Yellow Trail in rain that was so hard it created a flowing river (but drained quickly when the rain stopped), and in snow deep enough to see some animal tracks that I swore were the infamous Big Cat that was rumored to live in the area. One summer it was unusual if I didn't see at least one copperhead on every run on that trail. I was with a group when one was stung by a scorpion, but I never witnessed a snake bite.

While obsessively looking for snakes underfoot one summer day, I failed to look at where my head was going and ran smack into a tree that had fallen over and caught in others, placing its branch at perfect scalp height for me. It was so perfect that the stitches came just to my hairline and created a tiny new part on the other side of my head. I had to run 2 miles back to the car with my bloody, now-red, formerly white tank top bandage.

On an early morning run, probably on a weekday, I realized that being the first runner of the day meant one thing: spiderwebs. I grabbed a large stick and ran along waving it in front of my face, as if casting some voodoo spell on the trees ahead. Suddenly around a blind curve came a guy holding and waving his own large stick. We must have both had looks of surprise and complete embarrassment on our faces realizing how ridiculous we looked, until we saw each other. I've also been caught in hysterical laughter while running by myself, listening to a podcast. At least they heard me coming.

Beginning a run with the cross country team just a few minutes too late one evening had us running back at dusk. Which quickly turned to dark. I jinxed a teammate by wondering aloud how we'd all managed to stay upright so far. I was answered with a thud right behind me. A few minutes later a ghostly white apparition appeared and I screamed. I probably scared coach more than he scared me.

The most horrible sight I've seen on the trail was today. I had hear of the massacre on Charlie's blog, but didn't realize the vastness of the destruction until I came upon this:

I haven't read up on the plans for this, but I see they're *keeping the outdoor enthusiast in mind (zoom in on the posters below).*

The asterisks, by the way, signify"sarcasm font," in case you were wondering. I was definitely sad to see this happening, and I'm afriad it's going to be a major thoroughfare when they're through with it. Send me the petition and I'll be the first to sign it!

I hope for all trail runners and mountain bikers (who help keep the snakes and spiderwebs away), as well as for myself, that someone will realize that this little trail in the middle of the busy city is such an oasis for so many of us.

During wedding week, I plan to go back a couple more times to visit.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back in Memphis for the week, because it's wedding week! I got in town last night in time to get some sleep before the Ride for Your Mind this morning in Bartlett.

I haven't been on many group rides lately, except for a couple in Panama City last weekend during Girls Trip!! Casey had a couple of good workouts for us on those flat roads just north of town. My usual riding buddy and future husband had a few hours, in between working night shifts and sleeping, to do some running, riding and swimming with me last week. Then I caught the plague cold he passed onto me (good husbands share), and I haven't shaken it yet.

So this morning's ride was small for a supported group ride, and consisted of lots of teammates, my Magnolia's creator, and my German Freunde -- lots of familiar faces. Upon getting there Laura let me know that we were in for 58 miles instead of the expected 50. That works even better for my half IM training!

Riding on half lung capacity, I wanted to hang on as long as I could. And that would be about 24 miles. The pace suddenly picked up around a corner or something and I was Off The Back. Of course this had to be during a headwind stretch, and I watched as my spedometer dropped 7, 8, 9 mph. Suddenly, like an angel from Heaven, Dave from Velo appeared behind me and told me to pull him a couple minutes so he could catch his breath. He kept telling me to go my own pace and not gas myself, but as soon as I got below about 22, he'd come around and pull again. Not that this bothered me one bit. I kept saying thank you thank you every time. Let me add that he'd been dropped immediately following a pull, whereas I'd been hanging in the back the whole time, usually following the largest rider I could find.

Just 5 or 6 miles after going OTB, the aid station appeared and we caught up with the pack. Only a few miles after rolling out, there was a flat. I admitted my prayers had been answered! God cares about little me! Haha. Surprisingly, the pace was slower the second half and I had no problems hanging on the rest of the ride. I mean, it hurt, especially on a couple of long hills. But the legs were somehow there.

With our team duathlon tomorrow we headed over to the course to clean up. I might have been a little late and therefore "clean up" consisted of "chatting it up" with some teammates. Oh well, I was there for moral support! I'll be one of the first to arrive in the morning to make up for it.

The weather will be beautiful for a race tomorrow, AND it's looking pretty good for my race to the altar on Saturday too:

Wedding weekend should be beautiful! Now, what am I forgetting to do?