This is how my typical day goes as of late:
- 6:15 a.m. – up and at ’em
- 6:20 a.m. – logged onto laptop, ready to work
- 7:20 a.m. – drag Caden out of bed and get him ready for school
- 8:00 a.m. – breakfast (this morning we enjoyed crepes)
- 8:20 a.m. – out the door to school
- 8:45 a.m. – drop off Caden to school (“Bye, buddy! Have a great day!”)
- 9:25 a.m. – arrive at work (remember my loooong commute? Still long. Still sucks.)
- 9:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. – various work scenarios: meetings on the phone, lunch with friends, writing, talking, writing some more
- 4:30 p.m. – leave to go home
- 5:40 p.m. – take Caden to football practice for two hours
- 6:05 p.m. – arrive at Mueller Park Canyon to take a 7 mile trail run during above mentioned football practice
- 7:25 p.m. – back down from trail, get in car all sweaty and dust covered, head to get Caden from practice
- 8:15 p.m. – arrive back at home, fix dinner (ha! these days it’s pick up dinner – too tired to cook after 8 o’clock at night)
- 9:00 p.m. – Caden’s in bed (after much groaning and moaning; man, he had a spoiled summer)
- 9:15 p.m. until I pass out – ME time
I explained all of that just to say this: I LOVE my trail running time that I get to take advantage of while Caden is at football practice. Because his practice field is a little further away from our home, I see no point in trying to drive home for maybe an hour of respite just to get back in my car to pick him up. I am in my car enough as it is on a daily basis and so I would prefer to shorten any time spent in it as much as possible.
When I first dropped him off, most of the other parents stayed around to watch the football practice, check it out, see if their sons are playing the positions they expected them to be in. I missed the first one (my dear dad took him and stayed to watch), but watched the next night. As I sat there watching drills run, plays executed, and boys revving up their testosterone, I thought ‘Do I really have to sit here for two hours?’ No, I most certainly did not. That’s when I realized I could take the time to go up Mueller Park Canyon to run up to Elephant Rock/Big Rock/Whatever-Name-You-Want-To-Call-It Rock and do a good seven miles of trail running.
If you have never run up this trail (well, most people hike it or bike it) and you want to challenge yourself, try taking it on. The first 1.5 miles will get you breathing pretty hard; it’s a steep and steady climb with switchbacks, roots jutting out all over the path, rocks here and there on which you could twist your ankle, and of course occasionally a biker or two (or 9 like last night) who almost run into you and kill you. It’s bloody FANTASTIC I tell you! (I know, I just know I am selling you on this trail)
The last two miles wind around the mountainside, gently sloping up and down in some parts until you round a bend and come right to the concrete bench that overlooks the Bountiful valley. It’s a beautiful spot to take a breather, soak up the scenery and contemplate the meaning of life. A couple of months ago when I did that run I contemplated setting the trees on fire because there were HORDES of disgusting caterpillars everywhere. Ewww. Gross. But not lately. Lately, it has been nothing but serene moments of quiet enjoyment, basking in the setting sun with blazing colors streaking across the softening sky. Once you are finished drinking this site in, you are ready to tackle the run back down. And man, is it something to look forward to.
Running down is a whole different experience because a) you are not killing yourself over sharp inclines over 3.5 miles and b) you feel like you could fly. When I first ran it with my running buddy Logan a couple of years ago, we clocked some of our time at 6:40 pace. Flying. Seriously. Your legs just seem to go pell mell as gravity compels them to move even faster. But you have to keep it in check because remember all the jutting roots and rocks I mentioned previously? They didn’t just disappear for your run down. If you don’t pay attention and dart with the quick reflexes of a slinky cheetah (that’s what I envision myself to be on these runs, of course…shut up) you will be doomed to slip, trip, twist, wrench, and possibly even break something with the speed you will reach.
But the speed, the speed. I am addicted to speed. And much of the path is closely lined with trees, shrubbery, or the like that is taller than me. It reaches out and grabs me like it just wants to touch my greatness as I fly by, barely touching the ground. I imagine these organic pieces to be my adoring crowd, cheering me on and encouraging me to go faster, work harder, keep moving because I’m almost there. Sure, it may be crazy but then again I’ve always been one to have an imagination…just ask The Guy. He rolls his eyes sometimes at things I dream up (or of). All I can say to that is I love to hear the roar of a crowd – even if it’s only in my head. 🙂
For more information on the trail, go here to check it out.