The more I run,I learn that running is not just something that I do, it is a part of who I am. There is a freedom and a joy that comes from running that I find satisfies in a way that no other activity or endeavor can match. When I get outside, head high, feet light and quick, smile blazing on my face, I know I am free. I am on my path and no one can move me. I am a runner. I can do anything I decide to do.
As I sat in my post-12 mile trail run Epsom Salt bath Sunday afternoon, reading the end of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, the story brought bubbles of joyful giggles and tears to my eyes. I thought, this is what running is about. It's not about the competition, or your next PR, or beating this person or that, it's about community, cheering one another on, and the camaraderie at the heart of every runner. We are in this together, and we are invincible when we embrace the joy of running, and move forward on the course with our teammates.
Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of running with my Grampa. My scheduled run was to be 15 miles, and Grampa was planning about ten, so my plan was to do five prior to meeting up. As it turns out, I ran two prior to meeting Grampa at the trailhead to tackle ten miles on Wildwood, which later turned into 12 miles on the trail, my morning run netting a neat 14 miles. I decided to allow myself a break in mileage due to increased difficulty of terrain. I have never run more than a 10K on trails. It was beautiful out, but my goodness. I knew I would experience some soreness after that run!
We ran uphill toward Pittock Mansion, and while taking in the city view, Grampa pointed to the next hill over and let me know we were running over there, up past the zoo. It was a fabulously cool day.
The trails were stunning. Lush, vibrant greens surrounded us on the hard-packed dirt trails. The trails were dirt, gravel, and filled with random tree root or rock protrusions, which kept my eyes trained on the ground before me, and somehow my eye was still pulled to take pictures of the gorgeous surroundings.
We had so much fun running up and down those trails; I learned the route and where to pop off the trail for water stops, and we talked about life and adventures.
When we arrived at the Pittock Mansion for the second round, we found a garden party out of the past overlooking the city... The attending parties were stunningly attired, and I couldn't resist a portrait of this couple, which they graciously allowed me to photograph.
On the way back down, the sun had finally broken through the clouds, and the light all around was like liquid gold filtering through the trees. By this time, it was nearing noon, and the trails were filled with people out for a jog, walk, hike, with strollers, dogs and walking sticks, everyone was on the trail in the forest enjoying the outdoors.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to run with my Grampa. I feel very lucky to get to go on this marathon journey with my family, training with my friends, being a part of the greater running community. It is awesome!
Keep your head up, a smile on, say hello to your fellow running-mates, and enjoy the run! ~Alaina