Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flexibility… and growth

No, contrary to what the title says, I will not be giving a perspective on flexibility in the way you are probably thinking. For starters, although I am a runner and a physical therapist, I am probably the last person you would want to hear from about flexibility because let’s face it, the length of my hamstrings (and most other muscle groups) is almost embarrassing!
On the other hand, I do think running forces an individual to become flexible in so many ways from expectations, routes, weather changes, etc. This is something I am constantly learning. Yesterday, Ben and I decided to try to get in a trail run before the weather changes drastically. I did not want any old trail run; rather, I was very particular about the location of where I hoped to go.
The day began with us leaving much later than we had anticipated or hoped (who knew I like to sleep in occasionally) and continued with us taking the wrong exit off of the freeway. We then had not anticipated fully how much time it would take to get to where we were going. How this even happened is beyond my comprehension. The trail I was hoping for requires one to travel from Denver, through the town of Lyons, then through Estes, to a small town on the other side of Estes. Because of time constraints, we opted to stop at a trail between Lyons and Estes Park. Needless to say, the drive was beautiful (as expected) but by the time we reached the trail head, it was a bit later than we had anticipated.
When we got out of the car, the trail description showed it to be much much shorter run than we had hoped for and there appeared to be some snow in the area. After looking at the map, we decided to give the trail a try and hope that it really did meet up with a jeep road eventually. As we headed down from the trailhead, I was very excited to be on a trail again. After about a quarter of a mile of downhill, we came to a small valley that was covered in snow. I am not sure why I did not expect this on November 26th in the Rocky Mountains, but I was quite surprised and to be honest, scared. I no longer knew what I was getting myself into!
Snow?? Ice?? You have to be crazy! I could not help but think that I had no idea how to run on that kind of terrain and I was so scared! As we picked our way along the trail, there were sections where Ben would wait patiently for me, as I tried to pansy my way through a stream crossing without getting wet or maintain my footing up a steep, slick slope. There were multiple times where I was inwardly cursing and then times where I found myself thinking “You just blogged about thankfulness and you are cranky about the snow!” There was even a time at which Ben turned around just in time to catch me seriously thinking about crab walking down a slick descent (I know, shameful) and say “Oh, common! You are bigger than that!”
My first reaction was to yell mean things at him, but I instantly realized that he was right. It really was just a short descent and what was the worst that would happen if I slipped, especially if I was expecting it? In the end, I came out with a few trips and only one fall, which is pretty good in general for me!
The trail turned out to be an awesome adventure and beautiful run. There were several stream crossings along the way and lots of rolling hills and varied terrains. At one point, the trail opened up to a mountain prairie, where the sun was shining warmly and the patches of snow were brilliant.  Just off the trail there were remnants of old homestead properties and placards telling the stories of the people who once lived in the area. What an amazing piece of history!
In the end, the trail run was one of the hardest I have ever done, largely because of the ice. The day and the run threw so many unexpected things at me that could very well have sidelined me if I had let it. Overall, the run turned out to be exactly what I need in many ways. It was such a good reminder that in running and in life, we will meet obstacles that are completely unexpected and almost impossible to be ready for, but if we are willing to take a risk, we might just come out stronger on the other side.

1 comment: