Monday, August 20, 2012

You never know what to expect.....

Sorry it's been so long since my last post.  Things blew up for a bit, and are just getting 
back to what I consider normal now. The last trail run was very well attended (as you can see).
18 runners, including a few first timers, joined us on the trails.  Three made the
whole loop (20 - 22 miles, depending on who you ask, and how much you suffer), and the rest
of us did out and backs for anywhere from 8 to 16 miles.

What was different about this loop?  Well - let's start by going over the expected during the run:
There were trees down.

There were lots of smiles.

There was quite a bit of sweat.
And there were lots of laughs.

What we didn't expect - the freshly killed bunny on the trail.  Definitely no pictures of that one.  I just wanted to get away before whatever killed it came back for its snack.  Besides, that would just be gross.

On the return leg of the 16 mile out and back, the group broke up a bit, and I was able to run by myself for a while.  As much as I love running with my buddies, I treasure these moments when I am sort of alone on the trail.  I say sort of because there is no one as far as I can see or hear, but I know that there are people both ahead of and behind me, which is comforting should something go wrong.  Being alone in the middle of the woods is the purest form of meditation for me.  This is always where I feel the closest to God, when I am surrounded by so much of the beauty he created.  I am always humbled by the enormity of all of it, as well as the attention put into the smallest details.

So when my phone rang about 5 miles from the exit to the trail, it startled me because I was in such a peaceful place in my mind. (Even though my ring tone is a nature sound - ducks quacking. :) No, I don't hunt, it just cracks me up every time it rings.  I stopped and took my phone out of my Camelbak and saw that it 
was my 13 year old son calling.  I had my answer to his question planned before I even answered - "Yes, Jeffrey can come over tonight."

Well, that wasn't what the call was about at all.  Instead, it was Josh telling me that I need to call my sister right away - there's an emergency.  My dad is 92, and ever since we lost my mom last year, all he has wanted was to join her, so I had a pretty good idea what I would hear when I made that call. Sure enough, my sister told me that Dad had eaten his breakfast, pushed his tray away, and stopped breathing.  The paramedics were at his house doing chest compressions at that time.

I told her to keep me posted, I hung up the phone, and I started to RUN.  I knew the odds were against me making it in time to tell him goodbye, but I had to try.  I ran for 10 minutes, all out.  During this time I jumped over two snakes, one of which I came REAL close to stepping on.  Talk about adrenaline.  With the hurdling of the second snake, I am surprised I didn't need chest compressions.

When I hit the 10 minute mark, I had a very strong feeling that there was no reason to hurry anymore.  I slowed to a walk, and called my sister back.  They had just declared Dad dead.  Of course, all of the expected emotions were there.  I was very much a daddy's girl.  My brothers and sisters were all much older than me, so I was pretty much raised as an only child.  I spent most of my childhood working with my dad and following him around.  If he stopped too suddenly, I would run right into him.  He was an amazing man, and an EXCELLENT role model.  Dad didn't talk about it, he just did it.

The note we found in his desk the day after he died.

In fact, I credit him heavily for my ultra running.  He instilled in me an adventurous spirit.  When I was afraid to try something, he would always say, "What's the worst that can happen?"  It's amazing how far those words have gotten me.

So, I stopped running and I listened.  It was so incredibly peaceful.  All I heard was the rustling of the leaves off of the side of the trail (which I walked away from quickly - better safe than sorry), and the birds.  It really was the perfect place to receive such news.  The peace I feel every time I run through the woods is the peace Dad feels all the time now.  I can't think of a better way to feel close to him than to return to the spot where I was when his soul was taken home.  Just when I thought I couldn't love Chicot more.

So, I walked and Emma caught up with me.  I told her what had happened and she was crying before I was.  We walked the rest of the way, talking about my dad and her bubbling stomach.  Then, as if I needed more comic relief, when we get off of the trail, Randy is holding ice on his face.  He was ambushed by wasps - not on the trail but afterwards when he was checking out the trail map.  I understand he put on quite the show when he was stung.  Just thinking about it makes me laugh. :)  Sorry Randy.

So, this last week was spent burying my Dad and taking care of final arrangements.  I only ran once -  Sunday for 11 miles.  But, it was a run with friends on a never run on before route.  All good.

And, once again this season, I find myself knocked off of my schedule a bit.  I am really not too torn up about it.  I will pick up where I left off as if last week never happened.  I never try to make up mileage.  If it is missed, it is deleted.   Move forward, don't look back.  

I started this blog to bring you along with me on my training journey, so that you could see that I am just a regular person who happens to run long races.  I get derailed, and I have to improvise.  Nothing in my life is set in stone, I just do my best to roll with the punches.  I really think my ability to adapt is a HUGE part of the reason that I am able to complete ultra distance races.  

I am adding a few more pics from the trail run on the 12th.  My next blog post will include an update on the business part, as well as a review of next Sunday's loop - a bunch of folks will be making the whole loop for the first time!! Can't wait to share it with them (and Dad!).

Have a great week, and Happy Running!!

Renee's first trail run!!  So happy she joined us!

Ahhh - the bridges!!

Running into the sunrise.

Colin learned that long legs are not an asset on the trails.

Smiles and more smiles!!

No, Keith, we are not making fun of your backpack.

Lonny leading the way.

Shane - a trail veteran now, and he just signed up for his
first trail race!!  Yay Shane!!

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