Sunday Trail Sermon: Lessons from Difficult Run

 

Ready to run…I think.
 
Happy November and Happy “Fall Back” 1 Hour Day!  After a mini Halloween Snickers binging, I figured I’d set my alarm for 5am and hit the trails early since I didn’t have any kids to make breakfast for, etc. They had a Halloween sleepover at a friend’s house last night. Yay. #mommyfreedom 

  
5am came and went while I was listening to the raindrops and texting my coach who ACTUALLY told me I had permission to drop this run if I wanted AND I could go get myself a caramel macchiato!!!  What the what?! I dunno, if he gets any softer with me, I might have to fire him!! 😆 However, I am over 2 months out to my first 50 miler and I did just run a marathon last Sunday and have logged 13 miles in the last two days so I guess it wouldn’t have been THAT crucial to suffer through wet, slightly chilly conditions. 

But, I had planned for a 14 mile trail run so although I finally got out of bed an hour later than planned, I still got in the car and drove out to Great Falls Park…yes, the site of the North Face Endurance Challenge. 

On my way there, I saw this sign and a small parking lot. I recognized the name as one of the checkpoints of the 50k I ran this past spring. I passed it and kept heading to Great Falls only because I’m much more familiar with that section of trail…that is, until I saw that parking was $10! I was like, “F@ck that!” and headed back to Difficult Run. 

After downing a fig bar and a small bag of sour cream and onion potato chips with a cup of coffee, I was off like a shot! #dirtyfoodconfessions #saltcarbscaffeine

My first mistake, I went out with the intention of proving my coach wrong because he thinks I’m being unrealistic about my 50 miler goal finish time. Hahaha. I know, I’m incorrigible. 

I haven’t been on a “real” trail in months and man, is it humbling. There are many reasons runners will give you as to why they run. I probably couldn’t pinpoint just one either. But what did come to mind early on the trail was the dichotomy of road vs. trail running for me. Eastern vs. western thought. And I don’t mean East Coast but you know, like my ancestors of the Far East!  

Personally, so much of road running is about crushing, conquering, dominating, speed. I have a love/hate relationship racing against the Garmin but yes, gotta admit that accomplishing a PR, or even beating that other runner next to you is a lot of fun! However, I never get the sense that I’m one with the concrete. I usually have my music blasting and am completely within myself and oftentimes oblivious of my surroundings. 

But when I’m out here, I can’t even bear the thought of blasting music through my earphones… 

While running trails, it’s crucial to pay close attention to the terrain changes…whether they are tree roots, rocky-ass rocks, slippery leaves, or ginormous piles of horse doodoo. (BTW..people freak out about cleaning up dog doodoo yet these horse owners seem to just leave their big piles smack in the middle of the trail.  What is up with that?) Anyway, the second you lose that focus and get sloppy, you’ll roll an ankle, trip, and face plant.   

And funny enough, when my mind would drift to BS negative thoughts, whether arrogance or anger, it’s almost as if Mother Nature would quickly spank my arse with a nasty slip of balance or an especially sharp rock underfoot. 

That’s when the grand epiphany came to me! I thought, “What if I ran as one with this trail instead of something to blaze or conquer?” What if I stopped looking at my Garmin? What if I treaded the earth with lighter feet and a lighter heart? (At that point, I fantasized about running in those sandal thingys.)

I began running with respect for the earth, being present and in harmony with it but it really wasn’t until AFTER I fell into this stream…

This runner dismounted too! LOL

I was running across those little round things all agile-like when I got super dizzy and just couldn’t make the last few round things, falling into the deeper section you see to the right of the picture. I wish someone could’ve witnessed the hilarity! I felt like I was on American Ninja Warrior failing epically. 😆😂 
Yes, submerged waist high, soaking wet at mile 1.5. 😆 
I continued on, but a bit more mindful, and almost energized after the little tumble. I asked myself whether each step was balanced and a natural extension from the ground that supported it. Was my energy calm and peaceful or would it stir the animals into a bit of a frenzy? I listened to my breath and felt my heartbeat. I stopped looking at the Garmin so much except to check on the actual time. I knew #mommyfreedom was coming to an end shortly. 

So here is the sermony part. Freedom results from cooperation and harmony. Love without freedom is not quite love at all. When will we realize that dominating others and our environment only demonstrates our ego-driven smallness instead of our grander, infinite natures ultimately connected with the entire universe? It’s all about the connection, not the attachment. Somehow, that’s been so twisted in our first world full of ease and comfort. 

Whether you start trail running or walking, get out there and connect with the ground underfoot and sky above. Quit the struggle and let it embrace and nourish you. 

Not much elevation gain on this portion of the trail. This was as high as I got today.

I ran back to the car about an hour and change later, putting in a solid 10k. Averaged a 12 minute mile including my fall and a few pretty pictures. Now to wrap my mind around doing this for 50 miles! 

   

My treat after a wet run.
 

2 thoughts on “Sunday Trail Sermon: Lessons from Difficult Run

  1. Enjoyed this- I laughed about your fall- mainly because you mentioned a new found obsession of mine- American Ninja Warrior..oh to be young again- I got my husband a book on how to be one- self published thing that offers a bit of humor in typos and such but the advice was “run trails- jump over logs, dodge branches…” I have had those moments of feeling like that- and then my ankles remind me of my age. Couple that with an astonishing lack of upper body strength and I am no Ninja in training. But I digress…I loved reading this. I will do a Micha run without garmin or headphones on Tuesday (well, the garmin will be on but I won’t look…how about that?)

    Liked by 1 person

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