In spring 2022, I ran a half-marathon at the Pinkney-Crooked Lake Trail here in Michigan. The trails were challenging at times, but the scenery was extremely rewarding throughout the entire race. I thought the event was well managed and enjoyed it so much that I signed up for another race with the same organization in the fall titled, Run Woodstock.

Over the past three years, I have competed in running events of various distances around this state, my preference leaning towards off-road trails. If it happens to be hot outside, you have a steady supply of natural shade. Also, staring at wildlife is a unique and peaceful experience that differs from the normal city routes some of us run regularly. The Japanese coined the term forest bathing which means to experience nature through our senses, which is exactly how I feel about trail running.

The Pinckney-Potawatomi Trail stretches nearly 17 miles in a circular dirt trail packed with various terrain. The race began at 7am, guiding us counterclockwise around the trail over the next few hours. There were self-serve aid stations with water available every 3 miles, so I didn’t opt to carry any. 338 of us lined up at the starting line in almost perfect 65-degree weather and a live band was playing in the background as we ran off into the woods.

Training for a race usually starts months prior to the event. There is a correlation with competing in one and managing projects at netlogx: You start by researching the race, feasibility of completion, and sometimes participants (project initiation). Next, a general plan is created, storing personal goals, timeline, and available resources (project planning). Finally, I wrap up the race (project execution), review results, eat something, pack up, and drive home (project closure). 

After the first mile or two, the folks around me settled in and we had the opportunity to take in the scenery. I enjoyed that the trail was spacious and I did not feel crowded. Exposed tree roots, vertical winding paths, and a few mountains bikers, blind to the occasion, were the only obstacles as I moved closer to the finish line. 

At this point in the run, the physically challenging aspect can almost fall away and a deep awareness sets in. You began to see a light at the end of the tunnel and access much-needed energy reserves to finish strong. Also, the camaraderie of fellow participants tends to show itself on the latter half of these races and verbal encouragement can really help. I saw no injuries, had a few laughs, and finished at 55/338. As a bonus, there was not a single piece of trash on the ground anywhere despite all the people in attendance. 

As autumn begins, I encourage you to take part in some outdoor exercise or even a competition. If you are into running, and are two good resources for finding races. I also recommend looking to nature centers or metro parks as they have a lot of benefits and different features for everyone.