February 7, 2009

Flying down the hills

Today, I met up with a co-worker and ran a local trail run up and down a small mountain. We actually ran into another co-worker as well, which was a fun surprise.

The best thing about this particular trail run is that after about 5.5 miles almost entirely uphill (which is extremely challenging and even the hardcore eventually give in and walk a little bit), your reward is that you get to fly down the hills on the way back.

Literally. Fly. Sailing through the forest as fast as you can comfortably go with the help of gravity in the face of the rocks, leaves, sticks and mud.

It's so much fun.

Because it's a relatively small race, after the turn around, for a few miles of downhill, it will be just you, and nothing except perhaps the panting breathing of the runner you are approaching to pass or the runner who is approaching to pass you (which has the feel of a horror movie -- alone, in the forest, with heavy breathing behind you and running).

The last time I'd done this race was about 5 months after my dad's death. I'd cried the entire last 4 miles. I felt so close to him and I knew he was there with me. All the nature. The adrenaline. The speed and thrill and joy of being alive. It was so beautiful and reminded me so much of what he appreciated about life, and I was so raw with his loss, that I just flew down the hills and cried.

Today, I left my coworker behind on the downhills (which was fair since she left me behind on the uphills) and found myself amazed to remember my last run. As I sped my way through the gorgeous trees, I recalled the tears streaming down my face. I recalled the bug that got in my eye and messed up my contact, making me tear even more.

This time, I felt equally close to dad, I knew he was there with me and he was just as thrilled as I was that I had taken the morning to fly down hills in recently rained upon forest. It smelled so clean and fresh. And this time, my eyes had no contacts. No matter where I looked, the world was full of perfectly edged leaves, rocks, sticks, and trees against the bright blue sky.

This is why I run.

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