Sum It Up Sunday - What's the Limit?
Yesterday I went on a trail run. I keep saying I want to get back to trail running, so I’m working on that. Just six years ago it was my norm to run 5-6 days a week. Back then I was training for 24-hour Ultra Runs. I won a few medals in my age group because there was often no one in my age group. Let’s just say I’m not fast and leave it at that. Endurance? Yes. Speed? Nope.
In the years since several things have conspired to make it a more now and then occurrence than the norm. Age, menopause, depression, grief have all had a hand in my staying in instead of heading out on a trail.
The trail run yesterday was one of the first ones I’ve truly enjoyed in a while. I was alone, on a trail I didn’t know, single track with a pretty good drop off to the right towards a river. And I loved it. One of the things that makes a run enjoyable for me, as I hate running, is being on a trail like that. I have my headphones in, listening to songs that have accompanied me on a few thousand miles of running, and I concentrate on every step. That somehow keeps my brain calm, oddly enough. When I have enough things going on, I find my zen.
Perhaps it’s age and experience but I hope that I now know my limits. Probably not, as that has never been a strong suit of mine.
In my youth, I would throw myself into any activity that my older brothers were doing. Climb up a towering pine tree? Sure. Fall about 20 feet through the branches when I lost my footing? Absolutely. Practice baseball in the back yard with pop flys and grounders? Yep. Hit in the face by a bad hop or the sun in my eyes? Yep again.
I broke my arm before pee-wee baseball practice when I was 7. Around the same age, I took up soccer and that same disregard for personal safety came along with me. At age 9 or so I played pick-up games with grown men who would come down to the field to play after throwing a few beers back at the one bar in town. I learned how to get by them so that I wouldn’t get tossed around. But it took a bit of tossing around to get there. Did I care? I did not. It was fun and exhilarating.
Playing pick-up basketball in my teens, barefoot, I stepped on glass and had to have a whole bunch of stitches. My mother didn’t think it was nearly as cool as I did. She was growing tired of these shenanigans.
In my soccer career, I’ve had at least 4 concussions (probably more, but those are the ones that someone actually recognized) from, again, throwing myself into each play with everything I had. I was never the fastest on the team, but I could play an entire game without tiring. In practice when wind sprints or running drills were required my lungs protested, as did my big fat mouth. If there was an objective, like there was in a game, I could, and would, run. Otherwise, WHY???
When I was in my early 40’s I was playing indoor soccer. It was part of my training regimen for the Rim To Rim To Rim run I wanted to do at the Grand Canyon. By playing indoor I wouldn’t have to train doing sprints. I ignored the tightness in my calves as I played with the team for a few weeks. Until one game, while I was running, with no one around me and the ball further away than that, I tore my Achilles. SNAP!
After I moved out to Colorado, I took up trail running. There have been some epic falls. While running a trail in Missouri ( I lived in KCMO for almost a year) I caught BOTH FEET (not an easy feat I assure you) on a root and fell flat. Inches away from busting my face on a rock. I sat and cried then got up and started to walk, then run, my way back the two miles to my car. Just a few years ago, after buying some new, very ugly, trail shoes, I caught a toe and tore up my knee and hand. Pictured below. Ouch.
My shitty sense of direction has gotten me lost when training, on several mountains. I missed the 2-mile trail when trying to summit Mt. Evens, which is up over 14 thousand feet. Instead, I ran the 7-mile trail, which took me so long, that I got over 14k feet but couldn’t get the bit left to the summit as an afternoon thunderstorm was coming in. I know St. Vrain Mountain very well. What was going to be a 5-hour run turned into an 8-hour one as I came down on the wrong side of the mountain and had to go around because I just didn’t have it in me to go back up to the 12k summit.
Why after all of this nonsense, do I still head out there? I might get lost. Trip up and hurt myself. See a rattlesnake… again…
As I said, I find my mind settling when on the trail. I can think up answers to questions that have been plaguing me. Creativity seems to flow from me during and after a run. This very blog came about because of that run yesterday. Wrote most of it in my head as I ran.
And all of those “trials and tribulations” are what make it interesting to me. I’ve gotten lost, and I’m still here. I’ve fallen, and I’ve gotten up and kept going. There is no limit for me when I remind myself of all of that. Right now I need to get up, find my way out of this cloud that has been around me, and keep on going. I hope it takes, yet I also know there are no guarantees in this life.
Whatever happens, the trails are waiting for me.