Random and Odd

Iowa Hill

IMAG0098, originally uploaded by Random and Odd.

We have been running Steven’s trail on the other side of the canyon most of this year. It’s a ten mile trail and it’s mostly all sun exposure, which means if your ass doesn’t hit that trail running at 6am you will be coming back up that incline in full fun for 2 hours…and you will die. This is the trail that snapped my will and broke my spirit. It also made me the strong trail runner I feel I am today.
Yesterday we finally did the other side of the canyon and it was like night and day but with just as much intensity. This trail is under the most beautiful trees. It’s completely shaded all the way to the river. The very, very, very cold river.
This weekend I was going to devote my Sunday to cleaning out my garage, but decided I wanted to do something fun instead. I woke up in a great mood and I was ready to get moving. Tabitha wasn’t going to go running because she wasn’t feeling good and Dan was pretty tired from his day trip to the beach. I was on my own. Within minutes everything went to shit and we all decided it was time to just lace up and get on the trail.
The road just to get to the trail head was insane. It’s a one lane road with blind corners all the way up, so without saying, for eight and half miles my anxiety level was off the charts. We pulled up into this very small town and for a minute we started to worry. Most of the time where we go, there are no people and so we don’t have too worry to much about people knowing how long our car is unattended.
We went inside in the store and the people there were so very nice. The grandson came out and walked us down to the official start of the trail because for the first 500 feet of this trail it cuts through the backyard of his grandma’s home. “No worries, even the Forestry guys couldn’t find the trail.” This was reassuring.

We had decided that before we even left the house that this was going to be a hike and not a trail run, not a training run, not a push-push-push run…we were going to go back to what we started and just hike it. That lasted about 600 yards in and then we started the run. It actually felt good because it FELT like a very mellow decline all the way. There were parts of the trail that were covered in very wet, slippery moss and we would have to walk it out until we got to another opening where the running could start up again. There were so many times that I would be running and see Dan or Tabitha stopped looking over the edge of the cliff and I knew that the view was going to be breathtaking and I wasn’t wrong. The water that was miles below was this amazing color of blue and green because of the minerals in the water. It was hard to believe that was our destination.

We found our spot and before eating I knew that it didn’t matter how cold the water was, I was going to get in and swim. It took a few minutes before my body could adapt to the freezing water, but as soon as I could get my upper body in and dunk I could get out.
“Tabitha, you have to try this.” I said after making my way back to shore.
She just laughed at me and said, “There is NO way you would catch me in that freezing ass water unless I was chasing a million dollars!” I just laughed because I had to agree…this water was the kind of cold you couldn’t be in more than a minute at a time without your muscles freezing up. She said, “Crazy has a face, and I am looking at it.”

The trip back up was going to be one I was going to have to run because my legs were frozen and I was going to have to get my muscles warmed back up. I did good for about a mile before the novelty of it wore off and I was done. Two and half miles left and the incline that didn’t feel so bad going down, was a bitch coming back up.

I have to say though, It was my favorite trail and I did better than I have done in a long time and I was proud of it.

We went inside the store/bar when we finally made our way back up and the people that ran that place was a wealth of history information on the whole town and the trail. We sat around for about 30 minutes looking at historical pictures, having some of her amazing soup and drinking a beer.

We got back into town, I jumped in the shower and made my way to the ice rink in time to watch Lester’s hockey game.

Today…I’m a little sore, but so happy that my hip didn’t go out and I’m not nursing that pain today. Okay, I’m REALLY sore….and I am walking like a old woman. SO WORTH IT.

I'm a lot of things, but mostly I'm just Random and Odd.


  • Tig

    Hey Kris,
    I keep meaning to ask about the trail running… It’s not something I have any experience with (yet?), I’m happy with my roads so far (unlike you)!…
    One question I would have is how do you keep time, because I’m certainly not a fast runner, but I like to be able to check my speed against my own standard, a bit OCD there maybe… With a trail, it being so variable from one part to the next, do you just not focus on pace/speed at all, just on how much you feel you’re pushing yourself? I don’t know that I’d have that self-awareness…

  • Kristine

    Hi Tig!
    We have a program called Sporty Pal. We turn it on before the run, but because we are the deep, deep woods, it sometimes doesn’t see us.
    This last run was 8 miles and if we were street running it, it wouldn’t take as long because there isn’t much incline and certainly not some of the stuff we have to pay attention to.
    For example, when i’m running I can’t normally have an Ipod on because I have to listen to my surroundings because of bears and mountain lions…or an ex falling down a cliff.
    When tuning into our foot strike we are also having to pay attention to WHERE our foot strikes with EVERY step because of snakes. There is no mindless running because you don’t know what is going to slither out.
    There are so many times that the trail just gets so wet, muddy, slippery or has just fallen away and you have to take it slow.
    This last trail we actually had to use a rope to get to the next part of the trail.
    The other part of the trail is that it’s very rare that we don’t have a heavy duty incline because we are in the canyons. I’ve learned this trick: if the trail is inclined on the way back up…run all the way down. When running back up, run the hills and if you’re lucky enough to get a down incline for a minute, walk it and stretch out the calves.

    Our time was four hours from the minute we pulled up to the trail head to the minute we left. This includes going into the store when we got there, getting lost and turning around to make sure we were on the right trail, pee stops, lunch, swimming, coming back up and having a bowl of soup and checking out the cemetery.

    It’s not the time that I am most interested in right now. RIGHT NOW. I will in the future, but right now i’m most concerned with building the endurance to be able to do more. Today I can feel how much I did and there is no stop watch or mile indicator better than this feeling.

  • Kristine

    I know! Like I said, there are parts of the trails we run that just stop and you have to just find a way to keep going. We do a lot of rock climbing out there, which is why I want to a rock climbing class.