Saturday, July 16, 2011

What I Discovered Deep in a Wood

The family went camping this week.  What this trip confirmed is that running is my safety value, my medication, some days it is even my validation.  There are not many days that I feel accomplished.  Most days I am rather incomplete.  But running is my mainstay.  It may not always go well, but I still go.  Wednesday was one of those days.

Andria was concerned about me going out for a run alone.  Camping is as such an opportunity to run trails as it is family time away from television and work.  I live for these fleeting moments alone on a mountain path, free from car exhaust and traffic lights.  Even if bears lurk behind every tree I feel safer than any run in my own neighborhood. 

Blind geriatric drivers are more deadly than bears.  No stats, just a feeling I have.

Of course Andria's greatest fear when I head out to run is that I will not return, or will come back with some horrible injury.  Trail running is not an easy activity.  Broken legs, twisted ankles, scraped hand and knees are always a possibility.  Getting lost is a concern as well.  You can only control so much, make the best of it and head out into the wild.

My control was in planning the route.  I left a copy of my itinerary with Andria at the campsite (althought I undershot my guess on return time) and carried a copy as well.  I wrote out a copy on the dashboard with emergency contact info and how to locate my family, just in case...

The one thing I have yet to control is my focus.  Unlike road running, trails require constant attention.  Look off-trail for even a second and the party is over.  Look even a few inches from where you plant your lead foot and really bad things will happen.  One such bad thing happened.

I may not have broken my toe.  That rock was certainly fixed in place.  My little toe gave way and turned a nasty shade of purple.  I had but one choice.  This may sound overly dramatic.  I'll concede the point.  But knowing I had to get back to the car without assistance was empowering.  No aid stations with access to emergency services.  No cell phone to call for help, or even warn my family of a delay.

Even misstep over those final nine miles was terror inducing.  Knowing the shudder of pain that would radiate from toe to head led to muscle soreness from constantly tensed calves.  But there was no self-pity.  No cursing my fate.  No bemoaning my lapse in focus, nor did I question my choice of footwear.  For I was doing exactly what I wanted, how I wanted, in the manner I chose.  The injury probably added an hour to my trip.  Climbing 2500 feet in six miles was not easy either.  And dodging horseshit made the day more difficult as well.  I failed to mention that my garmin disconnected itself from Skynet and I was blind to the remaining distance after the last trail fork.

I didn't break a leg.  I didn't fall off a cliff, nor was I eaten by a bear.  What I did was push aside rather painful bump in the road and get myself out of trouble.  Self-reliance is a powerful trait, one I am happy to develop.

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