It’s time to start racing again. And there’s nothing like starting the “season” off by doing something I’ve never done: a trail race.
I was supposed to do my first trail race in October, but the race, along with the festival around it, got postponed until next year. Searching the local running calendar turned up nothing but virtual races, so I turned to the national running calendar and found a trail race for Sunday, two counties away.
I went back to the trail this past Sunday, just to reacquaint myself with rocks, sticks, mud, water, holes, sand, and all the possibilities Nature offers when she wants to be a real mother. We’ve had a lot of rain, so the trails were especially miserable; rutted, ragged, and waterlogged. Few people dared to get out there, so it was quiet. Just the sound of light rain on the tree canopy and the movement of unseen creatures in the woods (we’re talking deer, possum, squirrel, and birds; there are no reported sightings of otherworldly spirits roaming the vicinity.)
My trail shoes were so muddy, I had to line the floor of my car with newspaper to drive home (fool that I am, I actually cleaned the interior of my car the day before). My socks were a splattered mess. I saw worse in the trail parking lot: two mountain bikers with a thick skunk line of mud running from the top of their helmets down to where their backsides met their bike seats, thanks to the tire splash. I have to give them credit; they did not changed clothes, hosed off or make any attempt to remove the evidence before racking their bikes and climbing into their cars, neither of which had seat covers. Badge of honor, I guess. Either that or someone else is detailing their vehicles. I wash, wax, and detail my own, so you understand my caution.
I am ready to start competing again, even with the pandemic restrictions. I am fine with obeying the rules of mask wearing, social distancing, cleanliness, and bringing your own food and water to a race. I am nervous about this weekend, but good-nervous, not anxious-nervous. It will be good to feel a little bit normal again.