The Natural Path

I am surrounded by talented and dedicated runners, who inspire me in their own way:  Some are astonishingly fast, some have run more races than I probably will in a lifetime, some have defied "senoritis," some run 100 miles in just under twelve hours and others keep running.

My fall results from the Mount Wilson Trail.
Today, however, I want to take the opportunity to thank Mike, also known as the ungirtrunner, and Jimmy for introducing me to trail running.  Back in May, when I started running trails, I was ten pounds heavier, had knee issues, and barely covered four miles before being out of breath.  Unaccustomed to trail running, I stumbled countless times, and even fell down flat on my face, tearing through a pair of running shoes. 

Still, I returned to the trails every day.  The trails, for the most part, are shady and cool.  Four huffing 'n puffing milers became 8, and then 10.  At first I wore long pants to ward off all the ticks lurking in the bushes, waiting to sink their heads into my skin.  After a few days though, I switched over to running shorts, and a few days after that, I stripped my shirt down to a sport bra.

I stopped tracking my time, which consistently reported inaccurate results thanks to the no-signal GPS on switchbacks, instead I now focus on the natural scenery enveloping me.  Deer,  coyotes, even a small black bear have already crossed my path.  I observe the prints and tracks that walked, hopped or glided before me.  Occasionally the trails would be interrupted by rivers flowing across, and now I 'know' what river stones in the river I need to take to get to the other side, taking joy in perfectly calculated leaps and touching back down on the loose dirt without losing a beat.  

Running across twigs, pebble rocks and loose earth, and doing so with ease, no longer stumbling nor falling, is an exhilarating experience, and it has changed me this summer.  I know I will miss the trails when the days become shorter and the nights longer.  Mike and Jimmy, thanks for inspiring me and introducing me to the natural path.