Happy Trails to You

Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.

It’s the way you ride the trail that counts…………..Dale Evans

I don’t have this classic C&W song on my playlist but it wouldn’t have mattered if I did for the Liberty by the Lake 10k yesterday deep in the heart of The Colony, Texas. Once again my faithful Nike running app found the start of a race to be a good time to advertise something to me and since I dont have the eyesight or time to figure out how to clear that annoyance once that gun sounds I ended up running without music. At these times I usually play songs in my head to help pass the time, and this one seemed like the perfect ironic background.
I don’t run trail races. I don’t run on trails at all. Having broken my ankle twice in my life I try to avoid activities that seem designed to encourage that, and trail runs strike me as just that type of activity. I don’t recall any mention of trail running in the description of the Liberty by the Lake 10k when I signed up. But lo and behold at around 1.5 to  2 miles into the race there we were, leaving my beloved asphalt and concrete behind for terra not so firma. We had some pretty strong thunderstorms earlier in the morning that not only destroyed my sleep but also rained buckets on the trail making for a pretty muddy mess. I was hoping it was just a momentary detour, but the next 3 miles or so were a sloppy slog through the lakeside muck.
I don’t race without tech backup anymore having been burned a few times by my running apps. My Garmin was reporting sub 8:00 splits before we got to the mud run and I was feeling pretty good despite the lack of sleep. The thunderstorms had reduced the air temps quite a bit and I was hoping to take advantage of the flat terrain as well and maybe finish below 8. That would be a pretty good 10k time for me. Unfortunately my times increased steadily as I traversed this unfamiliar territory. My legs felt heavy and there were more than a few spots where slowing down was essential  to avoid the dreaded slip and fall. There was a 5k being held simultaneously and when we rejoined those runners on the shorter route the trail was that much sloppier from the heavier use. Finally back on solid ground I was tired but still had enough left to pull away from a young woman I had matched stride for stride for the last 1.5 miles to finish strong.
If it is the way you ride the trail that counts I would say this one was somewhere between happy and blue. I finished second in my small group of fellow old men at 51:57 with my lateral malleolus fully intact, but I didn’t have any music and ended up covered in mud. So Liberty by the Lake, until we meet again, happy trails to you. I’ll be sticking to paved roads.
Heading for home

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