Sunday, February 22, 2015

Inspiration. Trail Racing.

Myself, Matt Whistoff, Jason Adams. Top 9 milers

I got some text messages last week from my friend Ryan back home in Pennsylvania about how inspired he's been to run after reading a copy of Born to Run that I gave him last fall. He told me that he ran a half marathon on a treadmill... and is designing routes on and off road to run once the weather breaks. Was talking to someone on Saturday about a friendship his young daughter has made with a fellow running competitor. So I told him about how me and Ryan ran track from elementary up through high school (later cross country too) and were still close friends decades later. And how Ryan's daughter now runs on the same team (Army Track) that we did.

The magical beauty of Time is that she can sometimes fuse seemingly disparate parts of our own lives into one continuum, revolving around a fixed theme... in this case, running. Yesterdays long forgotten, and buried by the sands of time... can suddenly leap forth and greet us with cheery memories... that float for a few precious moments on our hearts. Or like friendly ghosts passing through the chambers of our minds... lingering just long enough for us to question whether or not they are real.

Competed in the Run for Ray trail races yesterday. I opted for the 9 miler this year. Was again brought to an emotional pitch listening to the former wife of Ray Underhill (he was a pro skater who died young from a rare bone cancer) address and give thanks to us runners for being there and supporting the eponymous foundation. Perhaps as a result of which I went out too fast (and damn it Rick reminded you 20 minutes ago of your comment early in the CBSP Trail 4 miler "what are we running the mile?" ).

But sometimes it's advantageous to get out faster. And beat a lot of the congestion that likely occurred once the 9 and 18 mile fields entered the single track trails which knife into the woods about a half mile in. Though I did strangely become disoriented twice, unsure momentarily of where to go. So I took the next few miles to regain my composure and settle into the feel of the snaky, undulating, and root strewn trails.

I was running by myself then, but kept hearing voices up ahead... yet for the longest time could not get close enough to actually see anyone. Finally about four miles in I made visual contact with these seemingly merry bunch of chatting trail dogs... and within a few hundred more meters I latched onto the back and made it a foursome.  And I was asked to introduce myself... and was subsequently introduced to my new companions.  Trail running/ racing can be so different from the roads. This is not to say congeniality and good conversation doesn't occur on the asphalt... but on the trail its more par for the course. There's just more of this unspoken, general feeling of  "we are in this together" when one is navigating constant pratfalls, and adjusting continually to changes in terrain.

I fell in love in my first real ultra when a guy climbing a steep, rocky trail behind me asked if I needed any of his water. Something was a bit different out here.

But back to yesterday, I ran the last two miles or so again alone... enjoying the last section through more of a meadow like landscape on a much more benign section of damp single track trail. As the sounds of human activity at the start/ finish area gradually became more audible to my ears. Finished strong in a low six minute per mile pace, for a total elapsed time of just over one hour. Which placed me third overall, and got me one of the coveted skate board decks that just may be the coolest thing I've ever won at a race.

Today (Sunday morning) I was back in the Carolina Beach State Park running one of my favorite trails... watching a low bank of fog seemingly suspended over the Cape Fear River by invisible threads... cutting the visibility across the water to almost zero

I hope and pray the Gods of Time can grant me just a little more of this... 

Thank you Ryan for the T-shirt