Yeeeeehaw Parte Dos (because sometimes I speak Spanish)

I run. In the woods I feel like an animal. My kind of trail running isn’t a path with woods on either side, it isn’t a paved bike lane along some river—my kind of trail run is a narrow path that forces me to engage both my feet and my mind; and in turn my heart and my soul are engaged just as much.

West Virginia is known for some epic trails, hiking and mountain biking—from our camp site there was a small trail that was meant for a walk or a hike, measuring, according to the sign, 1.1 miles—not far at all. But if you remember, I’ve been out for 12ish weeks and any kind of run was going to satisfy my itch to ‘float’ over rock and root. I set out to run, I ended up running, walking and absorbing the woods for all they had to offer.

Imagine a field full of tents, music blasting from across the field and then enter the woods and there is literally a line you can cross that shuts all that off. Your senses shift and change as you approach a bridge that lets you cross a stream. You walk over  the wooden bridge and it’s like someone hit the ‘mute’ button on reality and turned the volume up on a nature—this is exactly what happened. The only sounds after I crossed the bridge were chipmunks leaping out of the way, a few birds and my labored breathing. The 1.1 mile loop had an ‘approach’ and the real loop was .8 miles—short but tough. Hills, mud that made me slip up and down hill, roots, branches and logs to leap over…this was the trail running you see in a The North Face advertisement. I vow to never stop exploring and press on through the loop 1, 2, 3, 4 times. Solid.

For the first time I was wearing a pair of shoes that are considered ‘barefoot’ for their intended purpose on the trail. I’d never worn them in the woods, these shoes connected me, forced me to feel the earth under my feet and allowed it to radiate up my body and pulse through my blood. As I finished my run I had nothing but a grin on my face and sweat dripping all over my body, (WV is hot and humid when it wants to be.) I emerged from the woods to see my new friends grinning back, Alan, Lauren, Josh, Adam and Steve—they could sense the joy I was feeling and were rearranging their cars, ready to go hike and climb and inviting me to do the same. Even if there had been time for a shower there wasn’t one available; this was the beginning of my showerless week. I washed my face, threw on some yoga pants and joined them to explore WV some more.

 

Yeeehaww!!

Dare I say…

Because I live life on the road so much I have a hard time calling one particular place home. As a kid, my family bounced around from the east coast, to the mid west, to overseas, back to the middle of the country, then back east and then once more time to the Midwest.

On my own, I went to South America, then back east for a year of university and then ended up back in the Midwest… man, just talking about moving makes me tired. And now somehow I ended up with a job traveling the mid-Atlantic. So, when I’m running in a random city I rarely feel like I know where I’m going. I feel like I’m just constantly getting myself lost in hopes of a few things: getting a good run in, seeing the city, and maybe discovering something cool.

Rarely do I feel like I own a city. I don’t get a feeling of personal attachment to one particular place. However, I may have had that feeling last week on a run around the Inner Harbor. It was my second long run of the day and I needed to accomplish and hour and half of foot time, at 5pm I took off out the door of my apartment building and just started running, first to the harbor, then to the left through little Italy—being Friday evening, the weekend of Valentines day, I had to dodge couples and gaggles of single women lining up for Happy Hour, I had to weave my way between cars around Whole Foods until I finally made it to Boston street where things open up a little bit.

Boston runs right along the harbor where boats float in the icy February water, tied to the pier, begging to be let free to sail away. The water looked crisp, the air was fresh but not too cold. The temperature was warm for February, above 35 so I had shorts and a jacket, my favorite running attire. I ran and ran, Vampire Weekend was blasting my ears and keeping my cadence high and light. I ran, I ran and ran. The sun blasted orange over the water and reflected back turning the sky into an explosion that I wish I had been able to capture, (yet alas, my fancy camera phone was left behind—along with all other form of communication, what a glorious feeling!)

At my turn around point I stop to stretch a bit, to admire the other Friday evening runners, to take notice of what a dog friendly city Baltimore is. After a few moments I hop back into my pace, quickening it bit, getting into my grove, setting a bit of a faster speed for my journey back along the Promenade.

At this point, I find myself on a wooden surface jutting out straight toward the water, a perfect view of the setting sun, Vampire Weekend loud and optimistic in my headphones—I have the biggest, cheessiest grin on my face. I can only imagine what other runners think of my smile, but I don’t care. I feel good. I feel comfortable. I feel like Baltimore is a city I love to run in. The wooden planks under my feet are my favorite surface to run on, they make a happy noise under foot and spring me forward to continue on to complete my route that is wrapping around past Power Plant’s Barnes & Noble, by the Aquarium and to my goal—Russel Schipper. I can see the red neon lights; my pace gets more excited as it creeps closer.

Now it’s dark, lights reflect and double on the glass smooth water. No boats are sailing out to sea tonight. The mile back to my apartment from the end of the harbor was tough. An hour and half run after an hour morning work out was hard—but inspired. The city inspired me and kept my feet moving. It put a smile on my face that was the genuine smile of…dare I say? A runner’s high.

 

 

 

*Photos by Andrew Durand