Take What the Trail Will Give You

When I first started teaching my girls to run on trails, I taught them to take what the trail will give. I've watched so many runners, facing a rocky, technical hill, decide that they will impose their will on the hill. Good luck with that. The hill doesn't care. Nary a bit.

Which brings me to my run yesterday. The hill - in this case, the climb on the Headwaters Trail on Moscow Mountain - was kicking my butt. Yes, I'm out of shape. Yes, it was hot and it was humid. Those were the least of my issues.

I stood at a trail crossing a couple of miles up the hill and contemplated turning around, not finishing the loop. It wasn't a physical issue - I wasn't far from the top as it was. Thanks to the folks at MAMBA!It was mental - I was overloaded, overheated and under-motivated. I was feeling a bit whiny if you really wanted to know.

So I did what I often do. I had an honest discussion with myself...

You can turn back now, Paul. It's all downhill. Feel fast as you cover ground back to the car and it's still a great addition to the week's running. It's just not what you said you were going to do.

And all you have to do is explain to the family how the hill was kicking your butt and you chickened out from the rest of the trail and ran for home.

Or you can keep going, finish the loop. Take what the trail will give, give what you've got ... and be happy with what is.

Your choice. What are you going to do?

So I kept going. For those that don't know me, I have a habit of talking to myself so the above conversation isn't either new or unusual. More importantly, I listen to myself and what I heard was disappointment. Not that the hill was clobbering me - but that I was giving up on me. I still had enough juice to get over the ridge.

About ten minutes later, the trail rewarded me. I know, I said the trail doesn't care but sometimes I just feel like things happen for a reason even if they obviously don't. But I got to see that big bull moose with the massive rack because I hung in to the end.

If I had quit, I would have missed him and the loss would be entirely mine. For those keeping track at home by the way, that's moose, elk, two types of deer, bear, bear cub and a fox seen this summer. Not bad and no cougar sighting except on the WSU campus.

Once I crested the ridge and started down, I was right - I would feel fast. I was whipping through the woods and the foot work started to come back. Little hesitation steps to rebalance past a tree root, quick stepping a downhill. The signs that I'm gradually relearning how to run, aware of the roots and rocks and ruts, the whole body making the adjustments to handle each little change, moving on a more instinctive level again.

The trail may not care but I do so I will take what the trail will give - and I'll honor it by giving what I have.

It's a fair enough trade and I got to see a moose. That's a pretty good run.