The past few months have been challenging for us. We’ve got lots going on in life now – and it’s been consuming lots of energy.
A while back, I was heading out for my weekend long run. I’d completed the Bellingham Bay Marathon the weekend before, and was thinking about what would be next. Given everything on our plates, mulling whether to do a road marathon vs. trail ultra, local event, vs. traveling seemed an extravagance.
Thing is – running is a great way to spend time with friends. When you’re out on a 15-20 miler, you’ve got a fair bit of time to enjoy some company. You’ll swap stories, and gain fresh perspective on things. When I run alone, it’s excellent quiet time. I spend the time thinking. Again, 15-20 miles gives you time to breathe a bit and get some healthy distance from whatever is on your mind. I run because it feeds my soul.
So – as I drove up to run in the mountains with some of these thoughts swirling around, some words from an Indigo Girls song I was listening to crystallized some things for me. The title “Watershed” caught my attention. For years, a nearby watershed park has been my reliable spot to do longer runs. Since training for the New York City Marathon nine years back, I’ve easily logged several hundred miles out there. But as I listened to the song, the words brought more than simple sentimental value.
“Up on the watershed
standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
till your agony’s your heaviest load
You’ll never fly as the crow flies
get used to a country mile
When you’re learning to face the path at your pace
every choice is worth your while”
That day as I negotiated the trail up to Pratt Lake, in the Cascade Mountains, I played the song over and over in my mind. A middle of the pack runner like me has long internalized that running requires taking each mile as it comes. In life sometimes it’s harder to remember this. We’ll often get tangled up in our own expectations of what should be. But that’s not always how things happen, is it? I enjoyed my run out to Pratt Lake – up and down hill, over rocks and through water. Each time is different on this trail. I’d come here about a year ago, and got snowed on while navigating the rock slide areas just above the lake. Definitely did some “country miles” that day.
Soon after Pratt Lake, I went ahead and registered for the Philadelphia Marathon. I usually prefer smaller events. In this case, the timing was right, and I was able to use mileage for the airline tickets. And I get to check off another state on my way to someday becoming a 50 state marathoner (13 down, only 37 more to go). One of the wonderful things about this particular life’s goal is that I go to some beautiful and interesting places – the Black Hills of South Dakota, some trails outside of Lawrence Kansas, Logan Canyon in Utah, the National Mall in DC and New Orleans (doing the first post-Katrina major sporting event in 2006). My pace to fifty states is slow – perhaps one or two per year. At this rate, I’ll get to fifty when I’m about eighty.
But that’s okay. No point in rushing, just to check things off of a list. The country mile’s the reward, isn’t it ?