Monday, June 16, 2014

Thanks, Mum and Pappy.

I'm so thankful for my childhood and the way I grew up; barefoot, pony-tailed and wild. I have no doubt that my love for the outdoors, trail running and exploring came directly from a childhood spent getting into mischief, catching bugs and trying to keep up with my two older brothers. I'm grateful to both of my parents for the childhood I was given; only as an adult am I able to fully appreciate just how lucky I was.

Mom & Dad: Thank you for...

Encouraging me to run laps around the house in the middle of the night.
When I was a kid, I'd occasionally have "restless legs," an antsy feeling that came and went from time to time when I'd try to go to sleep. I'd creep into my parents' room in the middle of the night, complaining about the "jitters" in my legs. My mom's solution? Running a few laps around our house. At 2AM. I think this was my first introduction to running as a form of medicine; 25 years later, its still my drug of choice(other than red wine, of course).

To this day I can remember the feeling of the cold, damp grass under my bare feet, the sound of the crickets and frogs, and the relief that I'd feel when I crawled back into my bed, my legs finally still and relaxed. It always worked.

Not making me wear shoes.
I wore shoes as little as possible, sporting calloused, tan feet practically year-round. Any sure-footedness I now have on the trails came from years of practice, darting through the woods shoe-less, wild and free.

Turning off the TV.
Nature Freak in 1988
Oh, you were watching "Bobby's World"?  Not anymore! My mom was famous for walking right up to the TV, turning it off and telling us to go find something "productive" to do. The 9-year old rage I'd send her way when she flipped off an episode of "Saved By the Bell," was swift and intense. She didn't care. I'll always be grateful for that.

Giving me a (really) big back-yard.
Our house sat on a few acres in Powhatan, but my playground was much bigger. Next to our house lived our aunt and uncle, and on the other side of them, more cousins and more acres to roam. Our family lumber business was just down the country road; I spent a lot of time poking around down there and exploring the woods and wide open fields nearby. I'd be gone for whole afternoons, always within my mom's shouting distance (she was pretty loud...haha), but lost in my own world, letting my imagination and my feet roam where they pleased. Sometimes, when I'm out on the trail now, I'll have a moment of deja-vu; suddenly I'm back in the woods behind our house, chasing a frog or jumping from stump to stump.

I think this is one of the main things that has drawn me to trail-running as an adult; those long-ago childhood adventures scoot right up to the surface, eager to be remembered.

Now that my husband and I have a daughter of our own, its our responsibility to foster her love of the outdoors, to teach her to respect and care for our planet, and to encourage her as she discovers her own passions and dreams. I hope she'll grow up to be a confident, happy, lifelong explorer who isn't afraid to get a little dirt between her toes
Future trail-junkie? I sure hope so.

Here's hoping we'll be half as good as my folks.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

@ The James River Scramble 10k.

"Everyone's a winner."

James River Scramble 10k
May 17, 2014 
Brown's Island, RVA

A few weeks ago, I ran in the James River Scramble 10k at Brown's Island for the 3rd year in a row (if it ain't broke...). The Scramble is part of the incredible Dominion Riverrock outdoor festival held each spring on Brown's Island. If you live in Richmond and haven't made it to this awesome event, it totally belongs on your to-do list for 2015. Check out the Riverrock website HERE.

The 10k course starts on Tredegar Street and heads along the Canal Walk where runners can check out some ridiculously cool graffiti art before crossing the Mayo Island Bridge. From there, the course follows the flood wall, offering an unforgettable view of the RVA skyline, the James River and Brown's Island. After climbing up the "Mayan Ruins," (steep, rocky, muddy hill-stairs), runners head along Riverside Drive, drop onto Buttermilk Trail and wind through Belle Isle. The course hops along the suspended pedestrian bridge and ends with a sprint-finish towards the main Belle Isle Parking Area. 

Long story short: the course is perfect.

I love this race for many reasons; sweet single track, free beer, live music and loads of unexpected cheerleaders, to name a few. The "Air Dogs" are a nice touch for my kiddo, too. During most trail races, your only fans are the squirrels, your fellow trail junkies and maybe a couple of your favorite family members. During the 6.2-mile Scramble, plenty of volunteers, random spectators and cute little snakes dotted our path, offering high-fives and words of encouragement (the people, not the snakes).

Runners who compete in mostly road races are probably used to seeing lots of fans and supporters along their route. Trail racers are more likely accustomed to peeing in the woods in the middle of a race without worrying for a second that someone will see them (or care if they do). We may go for miles without spotting another person, wondering if we missed a turn somewhere along the way and are now en route to Tennessee.

Okay, maybe that's just some of us.

Anyway, what makes the Scramble so unique and fun is the combination of great trails, plenty of cheerleaders, loads of positive energy and a Rock-n-Roll band booming in the background. I look forward to this race each year, and each year I've had a groovy time. This year there were tons of people out on the trail and hanging at the river, enjoying the perfect weather and striking RVA views. They were all friendly, telling us "way to go," or "looking good!" One guy really stuck out to me. As we passed him and his friends (fishing poles in hand), he high-fived each one of us, smiling broadly and insisting, "Everyone's a winner. Ya'll are all winners."

You said it, Mister.

My Stats/Results
Time- 55:16
Pace- 8:54 min/mile
Overall Finish (women)- 66/407
Age Group Finish- 27/164

Hanging with my gal post-race. Next stop: the beer truck, DUH.