Today the weeds were towering over my head and the thorns were penetrating through my socks. My lungs filled with pollen and the hot wind rapidly parched my lips. Why did I chose this trail? The question kept popping into my head like bad TV theme song….HR puff and stuff, who’s your friend when things get rough. I continued onward, though, through the tree-sized stalks of mustard plant and weeds.
One of my favorite books of all time is Where the Red FernGrows. It’s a children’s novel but I’ve read it multiple times as an adult, including to my daughters. The themes in this story are of youth and nature, life and death, toughness and vulnerability, freedom and exploration. If you have ever harbored the need to explore nature, on a mountain or in a forest, to be in the presence of the wild, off the grid and away from endless distractions, you should read this book. It might inspire you. To do more of what you need to do in life. To be closer to nature.
Emerson said to “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Have you ever sat next to a still lake or in a quite place and just tried to be calm, but couldn’t because hundreds of thoughts kept popping into your head? Tasks, chores, responsibilities, whatever? Sometimes I think our minds have been lulled by society to be permanent waste treatment centers, programmed to process the crap we chose to deal with in life into something meaningful. Unfortunately the GIGO principle applies here. If we are preoccupied with mundane tasks, our lives simply become, well, mundane. What’s at stake? I don’t know. What if you think about it, but don’t do anything about it? Well, then, there goes another hour, another day, another year. A lifetime.
Ok, I snuck off the reservation a little here. Lets bring this back to something meaningful to running or, better yet, ultra running. Tomorrow I’m planning on sneaking onto a trail that will take the better part of 8 hours to complete. I’ve done this run before, but it was five years ago and I was younger and, well, let’s just say less the wiser.
Back then I was hell bent on extracting as much fitness and pride out of a difficult workout. Today I’m looking forward to being on a mountain for 8 hours. I'm also intent on being patient, by adopting the pace of nature. Time on foot. It's not just a slogan.