Horses and single track

Horses and cattle always make a scene look so country

What could be more perfect than starting the day with a trail run in good company? Not much.

After a few weeks of sporadic training, I’ve finally got some antibiotics and good cough syrup so am confident that my flu will soon be gone. Last night was the first night in weeks that I’ve actually been able to sleep right through, making it possible for me to wake early for a pre-work trail run.

And what a perfect return to morning training it was. In fact, after such a long period of trying to take things easy, it didn’t even feel like training. It felt like I was going out to play for an hour. And that’s just how running should feel.

Rosemary from running club joined me this morning for a beautiful little jaunt through Bayview Conservation Park. We started running in the dark along gravel fire trails. There was a big hill on the trail and I suggested that we walk up it. My excuse is that I’m training for ultras and I read somewhere that it’s good to practice walking up big hills in training if that’s what you are going to do in races. Any excuse really 😉

After a power walk up the hill we cruised down and along a circuitous fire trail for about 4km. The trail rolled up and down some more hills, providing us with a lovely view of the sun rising through the trees. Poor Rosemary has to listen to me chat away as we ran but I’m sure everyone at running club is used to that by now.

Enjoying the morning

After about 5km we got to the You’re Kidding mountain bike trail, which is one of my favourite single tracks in Bayview. We turned down it and spent a glorious few kilometres running through the grass trees and banksias. Banksias flower in winter so it’s the perfect season to enjoy their bright yellow candles, which rise from their dark green leaves. The single track just flowed beautifully and the running was easy.

We turned left at the end of You’re Kidding to head back to the carpark along fire trails that were soft under foot. The trail ran along the boundary of a hobby farm and we were treated to views of gums standing in open grassland with the changing colours of the dawn sky behind. Then we rounded a corner and were greeted with the pretty sight of horses and cattle standing in a paddock. It’s a scene that always invokes poetry in my mind; perhaps because I was always a fan of Banjo Patterson when I was a child and he wrote a lot about rural scenery.

There was a sole grey horse in the paddock who came wandering over as soon as he saw us. Naturally we had to stop and pat him. The smell of damp musty horse (it’s been raining) reminded me so much of my youth when I had my own horse who I rode along these very trails.

My decision to run ultras has totally changed the way I think and feel about running. When I was a triathlete, running filled me with anxiety because I felt I had to train to be fast and competitive. But I feel less pressure now that I’m training for ultras. I always thought that training for longer distances would be more stressful because there’s more miles to get under my feet. But for me it was always the speed and discipline issue that stressed me about running. Now that I’m training for ultras I just let myself relax into my running and enjoy the scenery a little more. Sure, I run a lot more slowly but I don’t think that will matter; in fact, it might be just the thing I need to get me across the finish line.

Total: 8.34km @ 7:30 pace (7:04 moving pace). Elevation gain / loss: 189m / 198m. Average temperature: 17.9’C.


9 responses to “Horses and single track

  1. Lovely post. I felt like I was there. I feel the same as you about ultra and trail running. I love not worrying about speed and focusing more on just finishing the run and enjoying myself. I’m in better shape, even though I get to walk up the big hills!

  2. I read all your posts but I don’t comment much. Just wanted to let you know I love reading them!

  3. I am sure there are some out there, and I will definitely look, but upto now, I have only been able to run on roads or sidewalks. I always enjoy your descriptive little jaunts through trails. Hopefully there will be some aroundthis new house so I don’t have to worry about traffic and be able to enjoy the scenery.

    I am glad you are feeling better and that you ‘fell’ right back into the comfort of running.

    • I also hope there are some nice trails around your new home that you can enjoy. It must be strange running in urban areas again after running in the solitude of the desert, especially when you went running there at night.

      • Indeed, I do sorely miss the quiet of the desert. I hate traffic. But I have had to adapt to keep up with my physical goals. I have noticed on a map that there is a public lake about 5K or so from me, so I think I may only have to endure traffic for a short while and be able to run in “nature” for the most part.

    • That sounds really good Mac – to be able to run in nature just 5km from home.
      Question – I’ve been searching for a run to do in America when I am there in May 2013. I’m probably going to do the Bear Mountain, NY 50 mile trail run on 4 May. Anyway, I noticed that other than the 50 miler, all the other events are listed in metric: 5km, 10km and 50km. Well, there’s a marathon and half marathon too but they are never listed anywhere as km or miles. And then above you’ve mentioned that the public lake is about 5km from your place … Do Americans use metric when talking about running distances? Or did you convert for me? And are the North Face events (e.g. Bear Mountain) odd for having metric distances?

      • Sorry, It has been a long week. Most of the time, short distances are given in km and longer disatnces are given in miles. Most Americans, sadly, have devolved to stating a time in place of distance, like the mall is 20 minutes away, instead of 15 miles. I use km when talking about running because that is what I mostly enter when I run races. Other than that, I use miles. Now, traditional marathons and half-marathons are always 26.2 miles, and 13.1 respectively, so are rarely presented with a distance. And no a lot of internationally known races are given in metric because most of the world operates in metric. Honestly, I am peculiar and enjoy using both systems. 🙂

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