Judging by the title of this post alone, you could assume this is going to be about how much my friends and family in Portugal and other parts of the world rock (hello, all!). Could be but no, it’s yet another post about running.
In case mentioning it every chance I can isn’t mentioning it often enough, I ran my first ever half-marathon in August and was damn proud of myself for it. Up until then, and after entering a few runs, the half-marathon had been the hardest run I’d ever had.
That was until I signed up for my first trail run, thinking it would be, you know, sort of like on road running. Yeah, there’s a lot into that “sort of”. It is *nothing* like running on the road.
S. and I had initially signed up for the long 15km course but, after taking a long break from proper training, we thought we’d be better off emailing the organisers and enter in the 9km category instead. Best. Decision. Ever.
Yesterday morning, we got to the place where the run was taking place and our first reaction, as soon as we arrived, was “oh shit, look at those hills!”. The scenery was amazing but there was no enjoying the views on that racing course. Running on steep terrain is tiring enough in itself but running through paddocks, forest and 4wd tracks is even more exhausting, not just because of the extra physical effort required but also because we have to pay attention to each step we take, to avoid putting our foot down wrong. I rolled my right ankle three times and my left ankle once. Fun, right? Luckily, it was never serious enough to make me give up halfway. What was making me want to give up halfway was seeing the steep hills in front of us, climbing up for what seemed like a million years and reaching the top only to find the track turned and kept on going up.
We both wanted to give up a few times during it. It was cold, our legs were giving up on us, our feet hurt from so many little mistakes… but we were both glad to cross the finish line and celebrate with the fattiest greasiest food we could find (not pictured: the chocolate brownie I devoured after the sausage).
That said, there were a couple of good moments. Like the “Baywatch – farming edition” moment when the glorious S. took off her running shoes and jumped into a creek to save a scared lamb that had fallen in it and was desperately trying to climb up. She had to run the rest of the course with cold and wet feet but it wasn’t too bad because she was soon going to have her shoes filled with mud anyway.
Some people are really passionate about trail running but I really can’t see myself getting into it. If the hard terrain wasn’t bad enough, the kilos of mud I brought home in my shoes (and socks!) would be enough to put me off. But it was a good experiencing, in retrospect. The whole way, I kept thinking about how hard the whole thing and how much easier the 21.1km of the half-marathon had been, even with the wind and hail, compared to these 9km. Distance really is just one of many factors when you go out for a run. And it’s not even the most important one.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have half a forest to go scrape off my shoes.