A Race With Nature!

I would say I’m a fickle outdoor enthusiast. I like nature and being outdoors when the conditions suit me. I also enjoy the beauty and solitude I often encounter outdoors. I’ve had the great pleasure of living in a suburban area with plenty of open space nearby.

Up until a few years ago, I would spend hours on end jogging all over the nature preserves and parks in my general vicinity. Back in the day, I also enjoyed competition. As I aged, my favorite races shifted from 5K and 10K races to half marathons and wayyyyy beyond. Those were ‘ultra’ fun! (grin)

An introvert at heart, I often trained by myself, jogging for two, three, and four hours, alone. I enjoyed the down time I had with nature. It was an important part of promoting my mental and physical wellbeing.

Running Alone!

The races I gravitated towards were trail races – so not on pavement, asphalt, or rubberized track, but out in nature. I felt they “tested” me a bit more. I wasn’t particularly fast anymore, so the challenge became actually just completing the races. These races tended to be smaller and often the runners were quite spread out along the route.

I would consider myself to be directionally impaired. I can read a map, but I have no mental muscle memory for what they say. I have definitely been lost on a race course more than once!

One of my most memorable races was Storm the Dam. I selected that half marathon race this time. It took place at a state park, one county away. It was early summer, but started early enough so as not to be too hot.

The race starts out on about a half mile of gravel, then into the woods you go. Exiting the woods, you climb this giant hill; the side of “the dam”.  You run the top of the dam on gravel, overlooking the water. Back down the hill and then through fields and woods.

Up The Dam!

When you push yourself, whether racing, or in some other area of life, you often get worn out. That’s not a bad thing. It helps you discover what you can really do. You discover your mettle! 

I was physically tired during this June race as the temperature rose during those two hours of competition. When I get tired while running, I often don't pick up my feet as much. In my head I tell myself that I’m conserving energy.

Before The Fall!

Well, on this particular occasion the result of me not picking up my feet very much led me to trip over a tree root in the middle of the forest, with no other runners in sight. I cried, and then stopped abruptly, as I knew it wouldn’t help me and no one was around. I got up, hobbled a bit, checked to see that all was working, and went on to finish the race. 

But you see, the race experience didn’t stop there for me. As it turns out when I fell in the woods, and really probably from just running through the woods, I ended up with spider bites, oak mite bites, and mosquito bites. My legs were quite the site! The oak mite bites were the worst! They hurt and itched for about six weeks!

The Price I Pay!

Would I do it again, if suddenly my meniscus was no longer torn, and I no longer had a bone chip hanging on to my kneecap, and if the cartilage suddenly reappeared on my knee caps? Yes, of course I would do it. 

Finding ways to test my mettle, stretch myself to my physical and mental limit, is what keeps me going. It moves me forward. And I think it even keeps me young! (Well, okay, younger than the calendar says, at least!)


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