I began trail running about a month into our move from Iowa to Virginia. Previously I never even considered the idea of running on a trail meant for hiking or mountain biking. You mean you can run on these rather than walk??? The idea blew my mind!
My absolute favorite place in Danville is the 35 miles of pristine mountain bike trails at Anglers Park and Dan Daniel Park. I’ve spent DAYS on these trails, running in all sorts of various conditions: the brutal heat and humidity of summer, stomping through the snow, slipping over freshly fallen leaves, running in the morning, after school, before the sunrise.
Here I’ve jumped over copperheads, wiped off more spider webs than I can count, chased hundreds of deer, ran with friends both new and old.
I’d use Angler’s Park as an after school therapist on the most challenging of work days and a playground where I was free to challenge myself on the other days. It was my home outside of my home here in Danville. A place of comfort.
But before it was comforting it was mysterious and terrifying. During my first trail run (and really first few weeks of trail running) I truly believed I was going to run into a bear around ever twist and turn of the trail. (I even wrote about this silly imagined fear here)
The first time I laced up my shoes and took off down the trails at Angler’s was exhilarating. There is nothing like getting lost in unknown wilderness, bounding over rocks and fallen trees; new discoveries during each step of the adventure. Seriously, if you haven’t tried this…quit reading and get to a trail immediately.
Instantly I discovered two things:
- Trails are WAY more interesting than roads- Your brain can’t zone out…instead you have to be IN the zone. You work so many more muscles than road running because your feet are landing on uneven ground and you are constantly turning around tight corners or going up and down hills.
- Virginia has WAY more hills than roads- and my body was NOT used to this. After about a month of training on these trails I was able to adjust, but the first few runs were fraught with heart pounding, lung aching, mental toughness “get me the hell through the run” training.
In other words I loved both the “adventure” feeling of trail running and the complete physical challenge of the sport.
I was hooked.
A few months later I was exploring trails all over Virginia and North Carolina.
It doesn’t have the prettiest views or the hardest trails, but Angler’s meant so much to me over the last three years.
It will always be my trail running grounds/ nature exploration/ outdoor gym/ hiking spot with my daughter Harper/ place where I hopped over copperheads and chased owls/ forest where I sweated more than previously thought possible.