This post is dedicated to my “Saturday Sistas”.
I took up trail running last winter. It was the middle of February and gloomy as all-get-out, here in Rochester. From January through March, it feels more like Blah-chester. My friend Mary is a committed runner and goes out to Mendon Ponds Park every weekend with her sisters and a smattering of friends. Whenever there is enough snow, they run on snowshoes. I had heard her talk about it, and one week I asked if I could go along. She graciously offered to loan me her spare pair of snowshoes, and off we went for a Saturday morning in the park. I had been cooped up inside for so much of the winter. Last winter was particularly long, cold, and snowy. Getting out in the fresh air, running over a frozen pond, I felt like I was conquering winter! I was sticking it to Mother Nature! I was hooked right away. I went out later that week and bought my own (very good quality) snowshoes. This amused Jeff immensely, who enjoyed giving me a hard time about buying fancy snowshoes after just one run. Then I reminded him about all the bikes in our garage. Because you can’t have just one bike, right? You need a road bike, a mountain bike, a winter bike, a “beater bike”, a spare bike, one for your trainer….anyhow, I think he figured it wise to lay off at that point! The snow ended up lasting through the end of March, so I got some excellent wear out of my snowshoes.
As winter turned into spring and summer, our group continued to meet to run the trails, and I found running to be a huge outlet for me. I look forward to it all week and get out of bed early Saturday morning, giddy to meet my friends at the park for our run. I don’t think I could commit to run as far or as long on my own as I do with my group. I am pushed on as we run by our conversation and laughter.
We get to be real in the woods. We get to talk about hard stuff and funny stuff too. “What happens in the woods stays in the woods.”
The landscape is always changing, so it is never boring. In the winter we get to see the snow covering the trails and weighing down the tree branches, the sun reflecting so bright it is almost blinding. In the spring we get to watch as the leaves start to bud and new life springs up everywhere. In the summer, the woods become dense and shady, protecting us from the sun’s rays. And in the fall we get to witness as the leaves burst into beautiful colors all around us. Sometimes I will be on a trail we have run dozens of times and have a moment of panic. “Where am I? This doesn’t look familiar. Have I been this way before?” Then I will see a familiar landmark, and realize that it is just the changing season making my trail look unfamiliar. It’s still the same trail. It is just covered with leaves or snow or, sometimes, horse poop. Yes, horse poop. They allow horses on the trails, and part of the “experience” is catapulting over the steaming piles, then yelling a warning to your comrades behind you.
I think trail running is a good metaphor for life too, hopefully you won’t find it too cheesy. Sometimes I look around and I feel lost or I get confused. I thought I knew where I was going and how to get there, but then, all of a sudden, things look unfamiliar. I think we go through different seasons in our lives that make the landscape look different, but the trail is still underneath there, in the same place it was before. Sometimes you have to dodge horse poop along the way. Sometimes you get some beautiful colors to look at, or some shade to protect you, and other times it is just really cold and quiet and bare. It usually helps to have a few friends along to keep you company and help you if you lose your way.