Four-Year Old Trail Runners and a Foray Into Trail Running
This is a photo of my Nike trail runners, taken in May 2006. I bought this pair during a trip to Bangkok, and not because I wanted to take up trail running (actually I never even knew the sport existed until I saw these shoes), but because I was about to embark on a relatively long-term backpacking trip and figured my old, frayed shoes were not going to make it out of the trip intact. I remember taking this photo as a reminder of how pretty the shoes were at the beginning, just before I was about to expose it to various terrains, climates, and whatever I might step on. Fast forward to March 2010, and this is how they look:
You know what, this photo is actually quite forgiving, and doesn't show all the damage it has incurred. It's lost both swooshes on the tongue, suffered from inevitable scratches and scrapes, and sadly, whatever adhesive they've used on the soles has deteriorated over time and my constant use only exacerbated its effects; both shoes started to sport a wide grin which I've tried to shut with super glue, only to repeat the same process after taking the shoes out for a bike ride. My procrastination was no help, and I didn't even bother to clean them since I thought they're ready to go to shoe heaven. As a matter of fact, that mud you see on the photo has been there for over six whole months. So the shoes sat there, languishing beside the newer ones.
Then, a slow awakening. A few months ago, my brother gave me the book Born to Run, which I read during a trip to Sagada. At this point in time, I was really getting back to running and was taking my interest in it just up a notch, which is probably why I received that book as a present. To anyone who has not read the book yet, the story revolves around one of the greatest races the world has never seen--a 50 mile foot race along the trails of the Copper Canyons in Mexico. The author's description of running on dirt and in the midst of beautiful landscapes completely captured my attention, and I immediately felt the desire to run as they did, disappearing into the earth and away from the world.
On one of our jaunts in the woods of Sagada, I saw a trail covered in wood chippings and I belatedly realized that I was in a fantastic place for trail running. With the help of our guide, I discovered a trail that led to Kiltepan Viewpoint, a few kilometers from town. The morning after saw me lacing up my shoes while all was still dark, and with bated breath I went up the road leading to the trail. With a heavy fleece and gloves, I braved the cold mountain morning and ran up the trail to the view point, stopping a few times because the thin air made me feel like I was running with a sock in my mouth. Upon reaching the viewpoint (to the suprise of a number of campers), I caught my breath for a few seconds, then went full speed downhill on the trail back to town.
I was overcome with an indescribable sensation that was a mix of fear, elation, and excitement. My mind was working overtime, processing the surface I was running on and making sure I don't trip over a root (almost did) and hit my head on a rock, run blindly into a grazing cow (there were plenty), or step on their "products." When I hit the concrete road back to town, I was laughing out loud; giddy from the natural high of a sweet downhill trail run.
Since then, I've tried to replicate that same feeling but really couldn't capture it on the road. So I started looking for trail races. I wanted to sign up for the Merrell Adventure Run, but the overwhelming response from runners forced them to close registration early (the slots were filled even before the early bird registration period was finished). Then I saw All Terra King of the Mountain, but because I would be out of town for a friend's wedding the day prior to the race, there was talk of turning it into a weekend. If not, the worry of arriving home late and drunk from the reception would ruin any chances of a decent run. Three days before the wedding, the plans for turning it into a weekend trip went out the window, and we found out the wedding is at lunch time, meaning we can head home earlier than expected. To top it all off, Cherie was asking if we could still make it to the race, because she wanted to join.
After a couple of tries, the cool people from All-Terra managed to squeeze a few more runners in, and I've signed up with Cherie and my cousin Alvin for the 10K trail run. The next question is, what shoes do I wear?
I dug up my almost four-year old trail runners and took them to a shoe-maker, who happens to have a workshop not unlike Manong Paul's. Actually, their kiosks are just a few meters apart, both just across the street from my building. Marvin, shoe-maker extraordinaire, only charged me a hundred pesos to make my old trail runners servicable again. He's stitched them up very nicely.
Look at the detail on those stitches. Not only do they hold the darn thing together, they actually look nice. I have yet to try them for a decent run, but I've washed them and am planning to take these out for a quick and easy early morning run tomorrow. At least now I'm more confident that they'll last for 10 kilometers on the trails.
Can't wait for Sunday! Good luck to everyone joining, and I hope to see you on the starting line.