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Joys of Trail Running: Avoiding/Overcoming Obstacles

Friday, October 08, 2010

My son and I went to Brazos Bend State Park to run and get the lay of the land for our upcoming Half Marathon Trail Run in January. The park is touted as the Home of the American Alligator and signs everywhere warned not to feed or approach the gators. We were hoping we might see one or two as we ran along Elm Lake Trail, or around 40 Acre Lake.
My son, the much faster runner, was far ahead of me and took a wrong turn. I wouldn’t have caught up with him except that he had spotted a 5 foot gator in the water and was tossing sticks near it, hoping to incite it to move. We watched the languid creature and then made it back to the main trail.
I caught up to him again, only this time he was warily working his way down the far side of the path, a monstrous gator lying ominously close to the near side. “I think it’s dead,” he commented hopefully. I wasn’t sure. We snapped a photo with my phone and inched our way past it. Then we noticed it blinking its eyes! Not dead, only napping!

We will encounter obstacles in our path. Some will be physical, like the gator, or a fallen tree on the trail: some could be health or injury related; still others could be our self- doubts or second guesses as we gauge the steepness of that rocky trail, or the fatigue in our quads. But facing the obstacle, having a plan, knowing when to back off and when to take a smart, informed risk are important skills we will develop.
Justin and I decided to sneak past our obstacle, and now we have a fun picture and story to share. Once I made my way cautiously over a fallen tree, only to find, just on the other side, a gorgeous display of crimson poke-weed berries cascading down glossy green leaves. These are things that make trail running so much more rewarding than getting my mileage on an oval track.
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