In just a few short weeks — Pennsylvania weather permitting — I’m going to be back out doing what I love to do: Working outside.
Whether it’s mowing, trimming, digging out a bush, or power-washing a house, I get so much satisfaction from spending an entire day out in the sun. It’s just something about working in the peaceful embrace of nature while the rest of the world labors inside an office cubicle, that makes me spring out of bed in the morning.
Of course, I’d be lying if I said this type of work was easy. Sometimes the heat is overbearing. Sometimes you get eaten alive by the bugs. Sometimes you come limping home with bruises, cuts, and smashed fingers.
It’s tough work. And to be perfectly honest, I’m still a little soft around the edges at this point in the game. Yes, I’ve stayed active with walking and running on the treadmill since an appendectomy in November, but I haven’t branched out into anything “hard” other than helping a friend move, an outing that took me days to recover from.
To ready myself for the rigors of the seasons to come, I’ve turned to an old friend: Trail running.
Last week I put in some of that old-fashioned “hard work” into a pair of outdoor runs. The first was on a semi-hidden dirt road in Perry County, complete with hills, switchbacks, and large sharp rocks that can make even the most eager motorist exercise extreme caution. Focusing on keeping my form when the times got hard, I made it to the finish intact, but just a little out of breath.
My second challenging run came over the weekend with a group run on the Appalachian Trail, guided by the Appalachian Running Company. This run went from the Boiling Springs Tavern to the top of Center Point Knob. The climb up was a hellish one, but the descent back down was technical, gratifying and came at “Wreck-It-Ralph” speed, as some of my friends like to call it when my 225-pound frame is hurtling down a mountain. I did take one fall, but luckily it was just into a patch of mud, and left me with nothing more than a bruise.
My almost-six mile run on the AT had me feeling “done for the day” tired when I arrived home just after breakfast. My legs were trashed, my hip was sore from my fall, and my eyelids became heavy almost as soon as I sat down. It’s a tired, yet rewarding sensation, a sort of happy exhaustion, if you will.
Of course in just a few short weeks, I’ll likely be having this feeling on an almost daily basis. I’m expecting it and I’m looking forward to it.
And most importantly, thanks to the rugged trails, I’ll be ready for it.
1 STEP BACK, 3 STEPS FORWARD
More than 300 runners turned out for the Coast Guard Marathon in Elizabeth City, N.C., but very few of those runners could keep up with the pace set by Waynesboro’s Manning family.
Luke Manning, 20, was the fifth-place finisher in the race in 3:10:10, an effort that also earned him first in the 20-24 AG. Scott Manning, 17, crossed the finish line in 4:00:53 to take third in the 0-19 AG, while Christina Manning posted a 4:27:47 to win the 55-59 AG.
Another Waynesboro runner, Jeffrey Hein, continues to evolve since discovering this sport around a decade ago. Hein landed his second lifetime sub-2 in the half marathon, as he completed the Annapolis Half Marathon in 1:59:48. Hein was chased by fellow Waynesboro runners Scott Smith (2:48:59) and James Clapsaddle (2:49:00).
A number of others were active in races across the region, including Chambersburg’s Sara Grove (2:34:20 at Albany Half Marathon), Brad Evans (23:26 at Ocean City Shamrock 5K), Robyn Hock (29:54 at St. Patrick’s Lo Tide Run 5K), Carla Christian (32:42 at Lucky Leprechaun 5K), and Carrie Svoboda (38:41 at Annapolis 5K), and Smithsburg’s Katy Mayne (54:17 at Lucky Leprechaun 5K).
And now, a look ahead:
Chambersburg Half Marathon: Saturday, 8:30 a.m., in Chambersburg. Challenge yourself on the hilly backroads of Chambersburg with this race, set for its 45th running. Learn more at timberhilltiming.com.
St. Patty’s Day 5K: Saturday, March 25, 10:30 a.m., in Shippensburg. Registration for this race comes with either one craft beer from Maxie’s Brew House or one craft soda from Appalachian Brewing Co. Sign up for the race on timberhilltiming.com.
Cowans Gap 5K: Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m., in Fort Loudon. Run this scenic race and support Cowans Gap State Park in the process. Read more on timberhilltiming.com.
Also: Lucky Charm 4 Miler (Saturday, in Harrisburg); Rabid Raccoon 100 (Saturday, in Hookstown); Special 13 & 26 Mile Trail Run (Saturday, in Safe Harbor); Frozen Foot 5K (Sunday, in Elizabethtown); Anything is PAULssible 5K (Saturday, March 25, in Gettysburg); Defeat MSA 5K (Saturday, March 25, in Hanover); Garden Spot Village Half Marathon (Saturday, in New Holland); Just a Short Run 30K (Saturday, March 25, in Allison Park); Medal Madness Saint Patrick 5K/10K (Saturday, March 25, in Manheim); Phillies Charities 5K (Saturday, March 25, in Philadelphia); Race of Champions 5K (Saturday, March 25, in Altoona); Roger Snyder Memorial Race (Saturday, March 25, in Richfield); ruOK 5K (Saturday, March 25, in Reading); Scranton 5K (Saturday, March 25, in Scranton); Shamrock Shuffle Half Marathon (Saturday, March 25, in Harmony); Two Rivers Marathon Race Festival (Saturday-Sunday, March 25-26, in Lackawaxen); Half Wit Half Marathon (Sunday, March 26, in Reading); Hanover YMCA Indoor Triathlon (Sunday, March 26, Hanover); Philadelphia Half Marathon (Sunday, March 26, in Philadelphia); Scranton Half Marathon (Sunday, March 26, in Scranton).
Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].