Friday, October 23, 2015

Hit the trails

This particular post comes from a column I wrote more than 10 years ago for the Fredericksburg Area Running Club's newsletter. I came across it recently when searching for samples I could use for a potential writing opportunity. It immediately made me think of Samantha and her dog, Rusty. We ran 1,000s of miles on those trails over many years. Then, it made me think of Christy, who is new to trail running and loves it as much as Samantha and I did. So, ladies...this one's for you.
It’s a Sunday morning, and I’ve missed the regular group of early-morning long runners. So, I resign myself to running on my own this cool spring morning, and I set off through the Lee Drive trails, which are still pretty bare.

There’s a lot to be said for running with a friend or a group, especially on those really long runs where the company helps to make time pass less painfully. On the other hand, though, I truly enjoy the times I am alone with my thoughts, tempered by my own breathing and modulated by the rhythm of my stride.

Today is no exception. The sun is shining (finally), the air is cool but not cold (finally), and there’s a light breeze that smells like spring (turned earth, mulch, clean laundry). My thoughts wander and then scatter as the past week and its tribulations rush through my head and off my shoulders. I’m relaxing as the initial jolt of the effort of running wears off, and I settle into a comfortable lope.

I don’t know what it is about trail running, but I always feel faster, taller, stronger. Today, I am Joanie Samuelson, and my legs are eating up the miles, with little effort. Today, all things are possible. I can run a personal best at the next race, finally breaking through my own barriers. This year, I will run my fastest marathon, qualify for Boston and maybe even win an age group award or two.

As I zip by the trees, my possibilities expand: I will finish my 20-page paper today, complete with annotated bibliography, and then I will get an early start on my heavy load at work. During my spare time this week, I will paint the kitchen and finish that cross-stitch project I’ve been working on for five years. I will plan a month’s worth of dinner menus, go to the grocery store, do all the laundry, and still have time to read that overdue library book.

TRIP! CRASH! THUD! Ouch! Damn root!

And reality settles back in. Well, okay, maybe I won’t accomplish all those things, but in the meantime, when I’m not tripping over an errant root, I am the fastest biped on the trails.

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