I wake up late in my friend’s guest bedroom, wispy curtains letting in just the right amount of light. Outside, the Marina District comes alive quietly, with its clean streets and narrow, pastel apartments. My feet find the floor, quads reminding me of the 13.1 miles I ran the day prior in the Marin Headlands*—a natural playground that stretches seaward from the northern end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Saturday’s run (or rather, power hike) was my last finish line of 2016, and there was no better place to wrap up the past 12 months than in one of the wild corners of my favorite state. The 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) of climbing was no joke; neither was this year.
The morning after—swimming, walking to coffee on Fillmore St., boarding a plane—I am accompanied by that pleasant, lingering soreness that only running down steep hills brings.
The sun shone brightly all weekend, equal parts gift and luxury.
There were new paths that smelled familiar, of eucalyptus; there were the faces of friends I’ve spent hours on bikes with, chasing each other down dusty, winding roads.
The race was a fitting way to mark one of the latest joys of this year: rediscovering trail running. Or, maybe I should say discovering BC trail running. Southern California had a lot to offer in this department, of course, but, perhaps due to the hours I spent on my bike, I only dabbled in it. Vancouver’s North Shore is a trail runner’s paradise, and I was fortunate enough to join a crew of passionate runners this fall who taught me how to suck it up in the wettest conditions and just run. After numerous Saturday mornings traipsing around the Lower Seymour Conservation Area, I toed the “fun line” at the Hallow’s Eve 10k in October and the Phantom Run Half in November—both which proved to be helpful prep for Saturday’s trek.
There’s so much I love about trail running: On the trails, I forget about times and paces. It’s easier to get lost—literally and figuratively—which I think is good for a person. Like the best things in life, it’s difficult and unpredictable. It’s wild and big and sometimes it’s uncomfortable.
I return to a city blanketed in snow. It’s stark and cozy, the way I remember winter. We are on the cusp of Christmas, a season of nostalgia and promise, endings and beginnings.
There aren’t many days left until the gun goes off for a new year. Here’s to all the start lines, finisher’s medals, and PR’s waiting for us—and to all the trails in between.
*The race was part of the North Face Endurance Challenge Series, which features distances for every level of crazy. The event was well run and the course was beautiful…highly recommend!