I have lived in San Angelo, TX for almost five years now and I had never been to Middle Concho Park. I also had never done a trail race. I experienced both this past Saturday and I loved it!
I typically do my running when I get off of work but this was not an option for me on race day. I scheduled my start time at 9:15 that morning and I turned it into an early/extended lunch. It was foggy that morning and the temperature was cool as well. The ground was muddy but I was ready for whatever the trail had in mind for me.
I’ll be honest the first set of rocks that I had to climb had me wondering what I got myself in to! I got to the top and thought that if the rest of the 6.2 mile course was like this that I might not make it back to work before we closed the store.
I was on the track team in high school but that was because I wanted to become the next Charles Austin as a high jumper. I never did high jump above the junior varsity team, but I did run the 800, 1600, and the 3200 (once). I was not a fan of running in an oval. Because of my dislike of running on a track I never envisioned myself as a distance runner and I laughed at the idea of me ever running a marathon.
There was absolutely nothing on this trail race that reminded me of being on an oval track. Every step took me to a new place that I had not been with the exception of the few times I had to back track because I got lost. Yes, I got lost 3 times that I know of during the race. My 6.2 miles ended up being 8.49 miles according to Strava. I never got upset about getting lost because honestly I wouldn’t have been out there if I didn’t love running. I thought quite a bit about getting lost before the race so I am not shocked that it happened. I never got lost on an oval track but I also can not recall a time where I felt free between the stripes on a track.
I started running the roads of San Angelo, TX when COVID-19 hit in March. I felt so free taking off and running somewhere, anywhere, nowhere. I started with just a mile every other day or two. The next thing I knew I started having 4-5 mile days and then a 9 mile day in August. My life had changed forever! Not only was I now in pursuit of a marathon, I became obsessed with the idea of completing an ultra marathon! 100 miles in 24 hours.
While I was on the trail watching out for rocks I thought about Scott Jurek’s story from when he set the FKT record on the Appalachian Trail. I thought about natures beauty that surrounded him that he did not get to fully take in because he was on a mission to get through fast. I can read his book “North” a dozen times but I did not fully understand it until I’ve lived it. Middle Concho Park is not the Appalachian Trail but there was so much more I wanted to explore there. I could spend several days there taking in the beauty of the park.
I completed the trail race and I did make it back to work before the store closed. I did grab a shower before I went back because I was pretty disgusting. I did however forget to grab some food before I got back to work. I found myself getting a headache and realized I needed food. I thought of Dean Karnazes and his story of eating a whole pizza in hand while running an ultra marathon (UltraMarathon Man). As I sat there with my slices of pizza I reflected on how amazing the human body is and how we don’t have a clue what it is capable of.
I’ll be back to the park. I’ll do more of my training runs on the trails there. Most likely my easy run days where I’m not worried about pace, just putting in the hours on my feet.