This week was a break in my routine, as I went camping for a few days in the mountains (the Canadian Rockies). I knew I would be away for at least one run, possibly more, so I packed my runners, my running clothes and my MP3 player, already set with Laura and my now-memorized week 9 podcast.
I figured I would take it easy, running as I did only a few hours after arrival and setting up camp. I wasn't used to the altitude, and I expected to do a pretty challenging hike the next day. For a change, J came along with me, and we found a likely trail next to a creek and got started.
It was brilliant. I was in no hurry, and surely went even slower than normal. On my left was a swollen creek rushing past, full from rains the days before. On my right, hundred-foot-tall conifers, and the occasional squirrel and ground hog. The sun shone down through the rarefied air, with white fluffy clouds drifting past. J. suggested we try an unmaintained route that ran parallel to a really popular hiking trail, up a canyon. I was game to try.
While it was beautiful, and exciting to be trying something new, the trail turned out to be totally unsuitable for my purpose. I was happy to run on dirt paths, but roots and fallen logs were so prominent that it felt more like I was running hurdles, and about to twist my ankle. So we turned back the other direction, and continued along a smoother, flatter path downriver. It was muddy. There were puddles. Everywhere, there were pebbles and flowers. I got my pristine shoes dirty in the wet. It was so much fun!
Never, in my before-C25K-life, would I have considered voluntarily running for fun, especially on vacation. I did find the altitude challenging, and ended up running for 20 minutes, walking a while and then running for the remaining 10, but I was still proud and amazed at myself. I really enjoy this whole running thing, and loved getting out away from everything to get my body moving and smell the fresh air. I usually run a paved bike path at home, but I may give some unpaved trails a try now that I have literally gotten my feet wet.
Side note: Last year, I tried hiking the popular trail up the canyon near where J and I ran. I made it to the second major waterfall destination, but it nearly killed me. That hike was about 3K each way, and was well-groomed, paved mostly. I was literally passed by small children, multiple strollers, even a wheelchair. I had to rest every 10-15 minutes or so, and what should have been a 1 hour trip took several hours because I was in such poor shape, and had such difficulty walking. About 1 year later, the day after going for the run described above, I did the hike again. I breezed up to the falls without needing to rest. Then we continued onward up the canyon another 3K on a much tougher trail to a meadow with beautiful natural pools of remarkable colors. I wasn't hiking especially fast, but I still managed a 12K hike to see something I probably would never have been able to see in person in my life if my health hadn't been so dramatically changed. My long hike was really hard for me, and a couple days later my calves and knees are still tender, but I am so happy to have been able to go. It is like the whole world is opening up to me, and I have so many more choices now. I consider C25K to have been really instrumental in that change.