Spring Ahead: Running the Trails

By Colleen Yorke
Navigational Art By Colleen Yorke, 2015.
With the time change behind us, the world seems lighter and brighter. The first flowers break ground, and we no longer feel like moles, when the birds greet us with their songs in the morning. Having crossed off the Los Angeles Marathon from our bucket list, we are eager to establish new goals, new ventures, new beginnings. Most of us probably have spent some time in front of the computer brainstorming races. Visually we find ourselves in a place with one foot planted in a previous training plan and one stretching for that next race. We still feel the marathon in our thighs. At the same time, we browse through course maps of upcoming races, wondering what would be the right race and what would be the wrong race, or if there even is there such a thing? We think about possibilities for distances at 50K. (It is only 4 more miles, after all...)

While road running will always be a passion of mine, lately I have found myself wandering off the beaten path. Afoot and lighthearted, I found myself escaping into the meadows and traveling the open soft-surfaced trails of the San Gabriel Mountains. Running the trails is a whole different experience. We feel connected to something bigger. Spending time on narrow trails winding all the way to the top of a mountain, with a lush vista of canyons below, snow and pines overhead, can be quite grounding. 

Seven miles later, having reached the summit, I am looking at an unmatched 360-degree panorama over the wrinkled San Gabriel Mountains. Yes, I did stumble a bit. Yes, I watched the path I had known and had taken for granted break away by chunks, not quite sure what freak event caused this, not sure how to stop it. Here at the heights of the mountain, nothing but serene calmness around me, I come to my senses. Life is a beautiful, mysterious, independent little thing, constantly changing, constantly evolving, keeping us on our toes, and introducing us to fellow travelers, also looking for their next turning point. I lift my hands up in the air, let out a laugh, delighting in its bouncing echo, and feeling my heart filling up with gratitude. Will you join me on my next trail run?