Going Long for the Sake of Going Long.


At times life changes you.  At times you can change your life. This happens when you go long for the sake of going long.

Wednesday morning I poured sea salt and honey into my water bottle to make a homemade sports drink. I scavenged through my kitchen cabinets looking for food to pack for my run and discovered five dried apricots. Grabbed my headphones, iPod, toe socks, Vibrams five fingers and I Priused away for my day of trail running.

Drive about 45 minutes from my home, passing the airport, turn right off the highway. Five miles of driving down a county road, passing two bait shops, one gas station and fields of farm land.

I turn left into Raccoon State Park.  I park in a gravel lot, two trailhead markers point my way. I slip on my brown fleece jacket, which would not be warm enough for the day’s weather, tie my bandanna over my head. Twenty miles in either direction will bring me back to the starting point. This is my new goal, my Everest, the Raccoon loop, 20 miles of trail running.

This would not be the day for completing the task, it would be the stating point for the experience.

This day I would go for a 10 mile run.  I would get lost somewhere around mile 4.  I would find the ranger station at mile 6. A frustrated park employee from behind the counter would point me to the main road and proceed to tell me “go that way” with a smirk of don’t bother me on her face. I folded up the park map that I grabbed from the front desk and started running on the road.

At this point I had no idea how far I was away from my car. The map was of no help to me for a couple of reasons: 1) I am a bad map reader 2) I could not find the ranger station on the map for a reference point 3) The park covers 7,572 of acre and I just ran 6 miles through the forest.  I knew my car was parked on this road but I had no idea if I would have to go 1 mile or 10 miles to get back.

The easy solution would be to back track the six miles.  The easy solution seemed to be the hardest thing for me to do at that point.  The terrain was mountainous, the footing was rocky, and the air was cold.  I ran the road.

Going long for the sake of going long.  My favorite thing about running is the goal-less nature I place upon myself.  I run far because I like it.  I am not competing against any thing, myself included. I do set destinations, distances, time on my feet and experiences that I wish to enjoy. However there is no failure point. I run because it feels good (when it’s not hurting me). Some call this the Zen of running; for me it’s just enjoying the run.

Yesterday I was fighting the fear of the unknown distance that I would cover.  Lost on a long road to nowhere.  That’s what it felt like.  I told myself that I would run to the music of one cd. At the end of the music if I was not at my car I would start to worry.  I ran to the music of Bruce Springsteen’s new album “Wrecking ball”, an american roots, gospel-filled album with stories of the working man to keep me company as I ran down the road to nowhere.  When the last song, “American Land”, ended I was runnung into the parking lot.

Dumb luck, good fortune or guided by angels...I do not care about the what or the why of how I made it back on this journey; it was just the journey of doing.

Later on that evening I sat in a room listening to a speaker give a talk on death.  The lecturer said “Deep spiritual healing takes place at the time of death.” This got me thinking about the many small death and re-birth moments we all share, daily at times. How running destroys the muscles only to re-grow them stronger with each run.

We go long for the sake of going long...it’s the only destination we all share.

Enjoy the run.

p.s. The photo above are my new running shoes, Luna Sandals. I hope to have them broken in to run the PGH 1/2 marathon in!