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The Ups And Downs Of Trail Running

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Since I started running in the summer of 2008, I've never done any trail runs.

Until Sunday.

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I'm signed up for the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon -- it will be both my first relay and first trail race -- so I figured I should get some practice. And I'm glad I did. Because it is hard.

Full disclosure: I had a few beers Saturday night, and a probably-too-late-in-the-evening dinner from Taylor Gourmet. And I didn't get out the door until the afternoon, when it was sunny and near 80 degrees. And I didn't feel great (see: aforementioned beers and sandwich). But I think it would've been hard regardless.

The uneven terrain, loose footing, constantly having to see where my next step was going to land -- everything about it was just ... different than what I am used to. But perhaps more than anything it was the ups and downs -- literally -- that I really found challenging.

Here's what my typical runs' elevation looks like for me:

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And here's what Sunday's run looked like:

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Oof.

That made my pace slower than normal (which I was expecting), as did having to side-step tree roots and jump over fallen branches. And getting a bit turned around didn't help the pace:

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But being in the middle of the woods (while still in DC) was pretty great. And being able to run somewhere beside the same old route down 16th to the Mall and then back up 14th was refreshing. There's a certain feeling of youthfulness in running through the woods and jumping over logs that I hadn't felt in a long time. And that was nice.

Do you like trail running? Do you have a favorite place to go? Or maybe tips for a rookie like me? To the comments!