I went clambering up an embankment this morning, using roots as footholds, basically feeling like a badass.
A very tired badass. Who cusses a lot.
When normal people find out that I run miles in the woods for fun, they think I’m weird. Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall? they inquire, clearly concerned about my physical well-being and my sanity. As a person who’s gone flying through the air and landed face-down several times, I just shrug–because I doubt they’ll be super-receptive to my theory that there’s no use being afraid of something that’s more of an eventuality than a possibility.
I am cautious by nature. Risk-adverse, even. I didn’t get banged up a lot as a kid. My mom didn’t want me to play soccer because she was afraid I was too small and would get hurt. I didn’t hang upside down from the monkey bars like my friend, Julie, because I’m afraid (horrified, really) of heights. I once ran full speed into a curb on my sweet baby blue banana-seat bicycle because I was afraid of what might happen if I tried to use the brakes. I barely missed flying head first into a stop sign.
Like I said, cautious. But occasionally lacking in common sense.
I run in the woods not because I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-adventure-seeker, but because I can’t take myself seriously out there. Not even a little bit. Trail running is the purest form of fun for me, because there’s no goal, no end-game, other than getting from point A to point B – which requires constant movement, a little finesse, and an iron will. And I am nothing if not stubborn.
Every time I show up at a trail race to prove to myself that I can traverse mountain trails without dying, I am awed by the skill of the trail runners around me. Those cats jump over and bound off rocks and stumps like they’re made of rubber. They run faster on a trail than I run on paved ground.
And I always leave the races all hyped-up like maybe I’ll train hard and suddenly be a competitive trail runner.
But that is not my life (in part because it requires a lot of lunges. Various kinds of lunges, even!).
Imagine if you set a turtle at the start line, hooked the little bugger up with a GPS, and set him loose. He’d probably make it over the obstacles and move in a (generally) forward direction, but he’s not going to be as showy as the squirrel, you know?
Okay, enough with the questionable analogies. You get it.
I get where I need to go, but no one said it’s pretty.
But for a scaredy cat like me, striking out on a wooded trail by myself, running and jumping over stuff and sliding around, looking down a drop at water flowing briskly by, it’s heaven. I am alone, self-sufficient, and capable.
I crave connection with other people–thrive on it, really. Consequently, I haven’t always given myself enough room to find my own way. But out there in the woods, there’s no one to tell me where to go. I have to rely on myself. And my seemingly endless well of four-letter-words.
I get lost a lot. I come back dirty, tired, and sore.
But I also finish each trail run reacquainted with my inner badass. And that’s worth whatever amount of sweat and cussing I need to put into it.
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash