This morning I had an idea before we went to church. I gave Gavin the heads up that he would be joining me for a trail run up and down the bluffs once we got home from church. As can be expected I received groans, complaints, and eye rolls. There was zero interest from Gavin in my plan. I could hear Dad’s voice in my head as I told Gavin, “Suck it up Buttercup!” He was obviously very disinterested as we got our gear together and headed out to the car.
On the way there he started to warm up to the idea a bit and he was almost smiling by the time we parked the car near our trailhead. We put on our crampons and began jogging up the hill.
Not gonna lie, it was a little rough at the start. Most of the running I’ve done recently has involved a total elevation gain of about eight feet or has been on a treadmill. This was the first time I’d jogged up a hill on the uneven footing of a trail in quite some time. We were both breathing pretty heavy until we hit the first trail junction.
At that point Gavin said, “this is kinda fun.” A little ways further down the trail he asked if he could take the lead. I let him pass and caught a huge smile on his face as he went by. Next thing I knew he was setting the pace and seeming to enjoy each and every footstep.
As we kept going up the bluff he mentioned how much fun he was having and how he could understand why I enjoy doing this type of stuff. I didn’t say as much because his pace had me pretty well gassed 😉 When I would ask him to stop for a second Gavin’s smile was the first thing I saw when he turned around.
With as much fun as we were both having we took a couple of side trails rather than the quickest path down. We ran through almost knee high snowdrifts and up and down the rolling hills atop the bluff. We cruised through quarry and took in the sights of La Crosse through the trees and down below. We talked, we joked, and we discussed trail and distance running. In what felt like no time at all we were back at the bottom of the trail taking our crampons off.
Gavin was complaining before the run when I mentioned that we may go three miles or so. By the time we reached the trailhead we’d gone over six miles and he was grinning from ear to ear.
The running was so effortless I had to double check my GPS watch for accuracy. My legs are a little tight and sore now, but at the time I felt like I could go longer. It was awesome. The thrill of running on the trail and losing myself in the moment with Gavin’s first trail run made the run so easy and chill.
Today was a run I’ll never forget. Just a hunch, but I have a feeling this will be the first of many long distance trail runs for Gavin, it seems like he caught the bug.