This past week I took a small group of students up to science camp for 3 days of fun in the coastal mountains north of San Francisco. It was supposed to be raining the entire time we were there, but instead we were pleasantly surprised with sunny, warm days. Now, it has been six and a half weeks without running due to a bad cough and pulled intercostal muscles. My body has been screaming to go for a run for a while now. On day 2 of the camp, we went for a hike through the gorgeous redwood forest. Almost the entire time I was scanning the trail imagining how great it would feel on my feet - all the soft needles, the mud, the leaves. In my hometown, there are basically NO trails to run. I could hardly stand it. I could have stripped off my hiking boots and just walked the trail barefoot, but I'm not sure if that would have been the best role-model for my students (considering I'm responsible for their health and well-being while they are away from their parents).
By the time we got back from the hike my body was dying to go for a run. I asked our naturalist if there was any "camp rules" about running the trails. She said no. That was pretty much all I needed to hear. I decided that an early morning trail run was going to happen. I informed the other chaperone that of my plans for the next morning.
Our first morning at the camp was very quiet, but that second morning the natives in the cabin were quite restless. I laid in my bunk contemplating the chill of the morning and whether it was light enough yet. Finally, I just committed and got up, threw on some sweat pants, my beanie hat and headed out the door.
The first quarter mile or so was easy, nice smooth asphalt. The water streaming across the roadway in a few places was quite cold, but refreshing. Then I hit the trailhead - FANTASTIC! Up the hillside I ran. There was a spot just up the trail where we had experimented in making animal tracks in the deep mud. Well, I smiled as I planted my 10 toes right up the middle of the mud and standing water wondering if the next group of kids would notice that there were footprints that did not belong to a four-legged creature.
Then, just beyond the wonderfully soft mud it got tough! This trail is actually more of an access road - nice and wide - but covered in some serious gravel in places. I had noticed the gravel the day before, but thought it was more manageable than it turned out to be. I hobbled along trying to find the best places to put my feet. Not terrible, just hmm more technical than I had planned.
Beyond this point, it was better. I mixed my running between the center of the path and along the edge. The edge had nice cool, wet leaves from fall and grass. The one problem was that the grass and leaves tended to hide larger rocks. I made it down to the creek access and decided it was best to start heading back - the natives would be waking soon.
As I reached our cabin, I came across a couple of people who gave me a bit of an odd look. I just smiled and headed in.
When I entered the cabin, one of my students was awake and began to question me. The conversation went something like this:
Student: "Where did you go?"
Me: "I went for a run."
Student: "But you don't have shoes."
Me: "I know."
Me: "Remember the place where we went to the creek yesterday. There."
Student: "Why'd you go there?"
Me: "Because I don't know anywhere else to run."
Student: "But you're not wearing any shoes."
Me: "I know, that's how I run."
Student: shrugs and his face says 'whatever'
I just laughed.
It was only a quick run. Just a chance to experience a trail that I might not get to try again. A mile to mile and a half at best, but I could not resist the temptation of the Call of the Wild.