This has been a good solid 40 mile week of running, all of it on single track trails. The casual unstructured running I have been doing over the past few months and then a good ten day stretch of no running at all during our vacation has left me feeling rested, healthy, and wanting to run.
This morning I tried to get out early because I had to work today. I ran the half mile down the road and entered the woods. Stepping off onto the single track, my toe got caught under one of those nasty little stumps that are about as thick as a pretzel rod and protrude from the trail for an inch or two. I tripped and landed with my chest on a smooth rounded rock. This knocked the breath out of me and made me suck air in a noisy wheezy painful way while on my hands and knees feeling like I was drawing my last breath. I haven't done that in a long time. Don't you hate it when that happens?! After two or three breaths I got back up, made sure there were no witnesses and continued on, feeling fine.
Kevin was out raking the local trails this morning. I'm sure this is a foreign concept to most people, it sure seemed strange to me the first time I heard of such a thing. But raking or blowing the organic debris off the trail surface and getting down to good mineral soil makes for hard packed trails and fast mountain bike riding. It makes the running more enjoyable and faster, too! It also defines the single track. Bikers, runners, and walkers tend to stick to that cleared path and in doing so, keep the single track single track. So if any of you trail runners wonder why the single track in certain areas is so clear of leaves and twigs and pine needles when the surrounding ground is littered and thick with debris, there are probably mountain bikers to thank for it.
On my return trip I passed Kevin raking. I was surprised at how much progress he had already made. It was nice running back over the trail he had already raked. My pace picked up dramatically without any additional effort. When I started up the switch backed hill to the road, I felt a bee sting on my lower leg, then another on my butt. Yellow Jackets, Yow!!! I ran up the trail and thought I was safe, but when I took the switchback the yellow jackets greeted me with a few more stings. The dirty cheaters had cut across without following the trail!
It was a good run. The best part is that my Garmen says I broke 5 minute/mile pace for a tenth of a mile or so! Thanks for the speed work, yellow jackets.