Monday, October 27, 2008

Trail Running

While on vacation at Tremblant last week, I spent most of my exercise time on the trails.  I splurged on a pair of North Face trail running shoes and got good use out of them right away.

One afternoon, I ran right up the face of the mountain and back down through the mountain biking circuit.  It was a particularly treacherous terrain comprised of a slick muddy base covered in freshly fallen leaves and topped off with the remnants of a snowfall from the previous night.  The ascent was harder than any hill training I had ever done because it just went on forever and the slope was much steeper.  What a great workout!  I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and and my monitor was reading over 100% of my max in no time at all.  I ran for at least 30 minutes before reaching a plateau and slowing to a brisk walk.  I crossed some people who were on their way back down and also a couple of young ladies sitting and taking in the view.  It was about 300 metres beyond them that I reached the plateau and took a rest and turned to look back down.  It was an amazing view of the lake below, but I knew it would only get better if I kept going.  By now, the slope was nearly 60 degrees so it was hard work just to walk up.  The shoes gave me sure footing and I felt secure every step of the way.  A few minutes later, I was at the crest of the Flying Mile lift.  From here the view was spectacular!  The sun was beginning to set (and rapidly at this time of year). It was almost blinding to see the reflection off the lake water below.  The colored leaves were pretty much all gone from the trees but the horizon still looked on fire from the bright sunlight.  I could see for miles and miles on this clear autumn  day.  A view like this makes it hard to want to go back down....but I knew that would be fun too!

After a few sips of water and a quick wizz, I started my descent.  The slope was so steep and slippery, I literally slalomed most of the way down, finding a line and bounding from foothold to foothold down the slope and picking up speed as I went.  I reached a rather fast clip but also tried to maintain control - it was exhilerating and almost felt like when I ski moguls.  As I entered the trails in the woods I had to pay even closer attention to my feet because the leaves hid all the ruts, roots, and rocks and I could have easily slipped or mis-stepped.  The mountain bike trail here was sick.  The slope was still as steep but the trail wound its way down diagonally with very technical sections and many sharp turns.  It was a blast motoring down this terrain all by myself and taking in the sounds and smells of the forest around me.

Once I reached the waterfall near the base of the mountain, I negotiated the series of log stairs without even slowing down and once again crossed paths with some hikers.  As I motored by them, I could hear them remark at how fast I was going.  These shoes were great.  My feet were dry from the Gore-Tex liners, my ankles didn't even roll once, and I never lost my footing.  I had 1 km to go to get back to the hotel but I decided to stay off the pavement as much as I could, so I tried to stay on the shoulder of the roads and paths until I linked up with another mountain bike trail not far away.  This trail took me up and around a ridge over the main road and I ended up on the golf course cart path right by our resort.  I continued to our unit and just had fun doing strides for the last 200 metres.   My run was done, my shoes were great, and I remembered why I loved trail running so much.

Keep on running!