I don’t spend all my time reading and watching and listening to shit. I actually do other things. And one of those things is running. Back in 2006, after ten years of smoking, I gave up the habit (I’ll admit I occasionally indulge) and laced up my running shoes. Now I had been captain of the cross country team in high school, I was sure I this had running thing down. I mean, it’s running. Who forgets how to run? I was excited as I laced up my shows and ran out my front door. I made it one block (if I’m being generous) before my lungs produced picket signs in protest. Then I walked for 30 minutes, realizing the road to health was going to be long in between gasps for air.
But I stuck with it and soon enough I was up to three miles a day. Then five. Soon I was running 25 miles a week. Eventually I wanted more, and I decided to train for the inaugural Rock the Parkway half-marathon. I remember the sense of accomplishment after I finished my first double digit training run. Which I soon learned was nothing compared to the exhilaration of crossing the finish line. The race was rainy and my arms were numb from the cold. I immediately went home and signed up to conquer Hospital Hill.
Then came my first marathon, and it was around that time that I got introduced to the trail running community and it would change my life.
Trail runners are a hard bunch to describe. Fun loving, hard training, beer drinking and tough as nails. All those things to be sure. But if I only had one word, it would be camaraderie. The depths of support and encouragement are impossible to describe if you’re not a part of it. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, or if you’re training for a 5K, 50K or you’re a 100 Mile veteran. When you’re one of us you’re one of us. We support and cheer each other because we are all the same in spirit. Some of my closest friendships are a result of being a member in this community. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to cheer them on through some amazing races. I wouldn’t give them up for all the whiskey in Ireland, although I would gladly drink it with them.
Then the bastards convinced me to train for a 50K. I may never forgive them for that 🙂
I did my first ultramarathon (any distance over a marathon, 26.2 miles) a couple years back. Trail Nerd friends of mine live in Pensacola and I joined them there for the Blackwater 50K, and once again there was no feeling like crossing that finish line. It feels a lot like hunger, and soreness.
Two months later, I did a second one in Little Rock and had a great road trip with friends. Due to injuries, time and budget constraints, I haven’t added a medal to my collection since then. It’s time to change that.
I’m training for the Run Toto Run 50K early next year. It was my first trail race ever (10 Mile) and the summer version was my first 20 miler. It will be good to get back on solid ground by running on familiar terrain.