Trivia: How do you know when its time for a new pair of trail shoes?
Answer: When you’re crawling up a ravine in two inches of mud and snow, sliding back one foot for every step you take while your so-called running “buddies” glide effortlessly to the top with their “sticky rubber outsoles and deep-lugged patterns ideal for traction.” (Thanks to Runner’s World for that illustrative prose.)
This is what it looked like yesterday, just before I left for Eagle Creek Park. Wet, white and dismal (which, coincidentally is how you could describe me after I ran):
I have gotten by without new trail shoes thus far this season, but yesterday, I met my match. The plan for the Sunday long run was to do two 6-miles loops. I thought I’d be just fine, considering it had snowed less than an inch, ground temps were above freezing, and this was a trail I’ve run over a dozen time during the last few months. I had no idea…
My Pearl Izumis, which grip dry pavement just fine, lost all of their grippiness the minute we entered the woods. My legs were dying. Instead of enjoying myself, I ran with this stiff, clenched gait in an attempt just to stabilize myself on the trail. It was like trying to run in socks on a freshly waxed floor. Plus, my fellow runners kept having to check on me and slow down to wait for me, which made me feel like even more of a total failure. It was all I could do to keep up with them as I was putting out twice as much effort just to stay vertical.
It was more humiliating than the time these girls at school dumped a bucket of pig’s blood on my head at the prom. (Oh wait, that was Carrie.)
To make matters worse, I must have landed wrong on my ankle at some point – the one I sprained back in February – and I started feeling those old pangs of pressure along the back of my ankle and the outside of my arch.
Needless to say, after the first 6-mile loop, I quit. I went home with my tail between my legs to drink a cocktail in the bathtub, cry, and nurse my aching limbs. (I might be exaggerating, slightly.)
I did ice my ankle for about 15 minutes before crawling into a hot bath, which made it feel nominally better. It feels okay today, just a little stiff when I bend it just right (or just wrong), but I can’t count on it being so forgiving next time.
I assure you, dear readers (all three of you), before I do any more trail runs, I’m going out and buying a new pair of trail shoes. (Like I even needed an excuse to buy shoes.)