Trails, The National Anthem and a Wipeout

I grew up in a tiny, little farming town  called Homedale, Idaho with a population of something like 1600. That little town has grown a bit since I grew up and moved away, but I’ll always have fond memories of living there and the people that made it so special.  Two of those people who grew up in Homedale with me are now some of my closest friends and running partners.  Davina and Bertha joined me tonight at Reynold’s Creek in the Owyhee Mountains for another late evening run on the trails. It was wonderful!

No matter how many times I climb a mountain, I’m always just humbled and amazed by the beauty that awaits me at the top. I keep coming back for more, often with a camera and my pals. The views didn’t disappoint tonight at all! It was spectacular again.  It was extra special since Bertha hadn’t seen these particular trails before, so Davina and I were sharing them with her and loving her reaction.  Bertha is a very emotional person. She feels deeply and seems to experience joy, sadness, pleasure and laughter more fully than the rest of us. Her outlook on life is so refreshing and real to me. She reminds me to stop and smell the flowers in life and tonight, she reminded me to stop and enjoy the views. When we reached the summit, she sat down on the jagged, red and brown rocks and just stared off into the canyon far below. She soaked it all in, smiling there and just breathing in the fresh, clean air.  Bertha reminds me to push “pause” sometimes in life or on a run, making sure to savor the moment that’s right in front of me. She did that tonight and I’m grateful to her for it.

After a few photos and some yummy baked potatoes rolled in sea salt (Bertha’s original idea, but my cooking this time), we headed out onto the rest of our run. Somewhere around sunset, the gals and I were talking about my upcoming race this Saturday. I mentioned that I was nervous about singing the National Anthem, since it’s been so many years since I performed for a crowd. The gals each realized they wouldn’t be there for my song since once will be heading to visit a family member out of state and the other will be working one of my aid stations on the course, so they asked me to sing.  “Here?!”, I said.  They laughed and nodded. So, I took a breath, closed my eyes (my own special way to block out stage fright when I’m feeling it) and started to sing. After 3 hours of trail running and out in the open wind, it wasn’t my best performance, but it was heartfelt.  I finished the final note and opened my eyes and was surprised to see my friends there crying. Bertha said, “Being out here in this beautiful place, that song was really fitting.” That really touched my heart. We all hugged and then off we ran to finish our run as the sun faded away into the horizen.

I started to feel that glorious “flow” when your legs are churning smoothly, your mind is quick to find the rocks, ruts and holes on the trail and I started feeling the speed returning to my legs along the singletrack trail as we wound along the mountainside. The city lights in the distance far below were starting to twinkle and glow. I turned on my new headlamp and started to fiddle with the settings while running along when, THUMP! I twisted my right ankle and came down hard on my right knee, skinning it good.  I sat there in the dust, moaning for a minute before I shook my head and slowly got back on my feet.  My pals caught up about then and checked to see if I was alright. I was a little banged up, but able to run.

The night was growing pitch black all around us, the eery glow of bovine eyes shining here and there as our headlamps lit the sagebrush-covered foothills all around us. An occasional , “Moooooooo” was the only noise disturbing the stillness of the night besides the thwap, thwap, thwap of three pairs of running shoes in perfect sync on the dusty trail.

Bertha found an extra gear somewhere near the last couple of miles and led us all the way back to my little car, sitting alone in the dark. We celebrated another great evening run, another night of laughter and tears and hugs and miles — lots and lots of miles.  We’ll do it again soon, I hope. I deeply appreciate, need and love my friends and those mountain views.

Stats: 11.50 miles. 20:53 pace (17:12 moving pace). 4:00 hours (3:17 moving time). Elevation Gain: 2,371 ft (that makes over 8,000 of gain in the last 7 days – niicce!!), Max Elevation: 4,287 ft. Best Pace: 6:45. Average Heart rate: 133 (easy, gentle, perfect.) Felt: Awesome!!!!!!!!

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