Yesterday, I did something really out of character. While in Charleston for work, I started looking up options for where to run after work since I just didn’t feel like doing the 4 mile loop around my hotel that I normally do. I came across a meetup group for runners that would be running that night at 6:30 from a local restaurant and then heading back for $1 pints and dinner after the run. Sounds amazing, right? So I made the executive decision to do it.
And then I started thinking about trails, and how I always run out on the trails with Doug on Wednesdays, and it just so happened that it was Wednesday. Before I knew what was happening, I was googling for trails in the Charleston area to run on. Wait, what? I hate trail running! Why am I looking up trails? As it turns out, there aren’t nearly as many trails as I thought there would be, but I did end up finding one about 45 minutes away in the Francis Marion National Forest. Wait, time out. Am I really considering driving 45 minutes to run on a trail by myself instead of running in a group and drinking beers for $1 afterwards? This should have been a really easy decision (when in doubt, always choose beer), but somehow I found myself driving through rural Charleston County in search of the Swamp Fox Passage of the Palmetto Trail in Awendaw, SC. A description of the trail that I read said “you’re likely to share the road with a few deer and wild hogs,” so what could possibly go wrong? Wild hogs are totally friendly.
I found the trail and decided I would just run 5 easy miles and try to avoid being kidnapped. The trail was out kind of in the middle of nowhere (although trails usually are, I suppose), so it would be pretty easy for someone to skin me and make a me-suit with no one ever knowing, but I tried to put that out of my mind as much as possible and just focus on remaining vigilant and visualizing myself elbowing said perpetrator really hard in the balls if it ever came to such a thing. They say visualization is the key to success, right? Anyway, as I set off, I didn’t really know what to expect, having only ever run on the trails near Columbia with Doug.
As I set off, I immediately noticed that the trail was not very technical. Back in Columbia, I’m constantly falling over rocks, branches, roots, etc, but here the trail was mostly smooth and covered with pine needles. Areas that have flooding issues have rubber mat thingies (you’re welcome for that eloquent description) that are elevated and help you get traction in the mud, which I thought was very thoughtful. Where were you on that one, Columbia?
Maybe because the trail was almost completely flat and there wasn’t much to avoid tripping over, I was able to really enjoy the run pretty much right from the beginning. I found myself creepily smiling because the scenery was beautiful, there was a great breeze, and for once, I didn’t have much to complain about. Oddly enough, I kept singing kind of a sad Taylor Swift song to myself over and over (“All Too Well,” for those who care to know), even though I wasn’t sad. Fact: although sometimes I think through deep problems while I’m running, most of the time, I just sing the same song to myself over and over.
The best part of the whole entire trail? About 1.5 miles into the run, I came upon a wooden bridge that overlooked the salt marsh running along the trail. It was completely breathtaking; one of those sights that makes you smile and makes even the most indignant atheist question if maybe, just maybe, there’s something bigger than us. And even though a majority of the run was spent singing angsty music to myself while making sure I wasn’t about to be attacked by either a terrifying human or a wild boar, when I got to that bridge, my mind just went blank and I felt incredibly calm.
I just felt really happy. Even when I reached a muddy spot on the trail that didn’t have those rubber mats (ironically, this was the only spot on the entire trail that actually had mud) and I got my shoes dirty, I still felt happy. Maybe it was because there weren’t very many hills and I was running at my own pace, but I really enjoyed it. So trail people, you win. I get it now. It can be really peaceful out there, and sometimes nature just puts you in a good mood. Obviously, I’m not giving up running on the roads, but I look forward to not actively dreading running on trails. I even bought trail shoes, although I haven’t decided which pair I’m going to go with yet. But you know what? I’m really looking forward to testing them out.
Leave a comment: When’s the last time you ate your words? Don’t be shy.