Always a Challenge, Always an Adventure

Some people understand why running is so great, others struggle to understand. I hope this helps…….
Running can provide many adventures if you’re paying attention. Whether on a training run or race, along the roadways or through the trails, there is always something that can make an impact. Simple things sometimes and monumental, never to be forgotten things at other times. From my first run through today I have always been able to walk away with a sense that I had witnessed or done something that many others may never experience. This is part of the reason that I LOVE to run outdoors.
Winter brings obstacles such as snow, ice and extreme cold but it also brings the satisfaction of making the first tracks in fresh snow, the challenge of staying upright on the ice and the knowledge that cold can be overcome. I can recall running in such cold extremes that upon finishing there was major ice build-up on my clothes and face. Awesome feeling- can’t really explain why but some of you will understand. I love to make the first tracks in fresh snow on a seldom used gravel road or trail. Running is difficult in these conditions and the pace slows but the knowledge that I am the only person to travel that particular route brings a surreal sense of inner peace. Weird, yes, but some of you will understand. Running in the ice brings many hazards and challenges but it can be fun. I ran a 10k a few years back on a loop course that was covered in ice. Slowed the pace a little but made me much more aware of form and stride. This was a lesson that carried over into my everyday running. It was also a lot of fun to watch people slip and hit the ground, everybody understands this one.
Running in the heat can be very difficult. The pace slows and the motivation to get out becomes less than ideal but it also provides a warrior mentality that can’t be matched. Summer also brings the less glamorous side of running out- things rub. Blood flows from odd places and blisters become common. Not fun but very warrior worthy- sounds ridiculous but some of you will understand.
I have bonded with friends and myself on training runs. You can really get to know a person if you hit the road with them. Run for an hour with somebody and you will learn more in that short period than you can in weeks of interaction. Something about the physical nature of the run opens people up to talk about anything. If you have ever shared the road with a training partner, you understand. This also applies to myself when running alone. I have learned a lot about myself on long and short runs. Sometimes we really do have talk to ourselves to work things out. Pushing when things are tough or just sorting out the daily jumble of life it is a great way to get to know who you really are. Maybe a few will understand this one.
I have encountered amazing pictures of natural beauty on trail runs and have seen more wildlife than I ever could have had I not been on foot. Deer, turkey, bobcats, skunks, snakes of all varieties along with creeks and picturesque scenery worthy of paintings in any museum. This keeps me hitting the trails- easy enough to understand.
During a half marathon I witnessed a “killer” squirrel that chased a runner down the road and watched as my running partner chased a squirrel during a full marathon. At mile 22 of the Little Rock Marathon a couple of years ago I enjoyed a cold beer on the run. This gave some people a good laugh, others were shocked, some disgusted and appalled. Me? I was having a beer at mile 22- how many people can say they did that? I know there are a few that understand that.
Adventures come daily and are all in the eye of the beholder. My favorite came in a 50k out in Tulsa. The rain set in early, mile 5, and the trail was a mess. By mile 18 I was done but there were a few voices in my head that wouldn’t let me quit. At mile 21 I was a total wreck mentally but kept running, straight up hill. My head down and feet digging in, I came to a sudden stop and fell back on my butt. Looking around to figure out what happened (and make sure nobody was close enough to witness) I realized that it was a tree that stopped me. I had run smack dab into it and I lost, the tree held the trail. I quickly got up and was overcome with the MOTHER of all cramps in my legs. Thinking I had to walk I realized that was impossible so I RAN. It hurt but not as bad. About 10 minutes later I reached for my water bottle and it was not there. I must have lost in when the tree kicked my ass. I continued in a state of semi-dehydration towards the finish line. Unfortunately I lost the trail for a while at mile 29 but somehow managed to backtrack and find it. I finished the 31 (or 32) miles in a delirious stumble. This was a GRAND ADVENTURE that was definitely a challenge and made a huge impact on me as a runner. If you don’t understand this one…….Get out on the road and give it some time, you will.

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