Monday, October 13, 2014

How to be lost

Saturday was my first time attempting to run the Mendon 10K loop by myself. It was, how can I put this epic fail. I have spent hours running those loops, albeit always with friends, and I thought I had at least some idea of where I was going. But on Saturday I couldn't get it right. I don't even know what I was doing wrong, but somehow no matter which way I went, I kept ending up back at the fence where I started. It was like I was stuck in some repeating loop on the blue trail and couldn't escape from it. I was still cranking out miles, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get up to the water tower and over to the Pond Rd side of the loop. After about my fifth time ending up back at the fence, feeling like I was in some kind of virtual reality loop, I started laughing. I mean, I have a notoriously bad sense of direction but this was ridiculous even for me. Seriously, how was this even possible?  Was it a dream? A glitch in The Matrix? Wait, did I take the red pill or the blue pill? I figured maybe this was my brain's way of telling me it needed a break from the loops, so I ran over to the beach parking lot and hit up the trails by the boat launch and Devil's Bathtub. When I got back to my car in the Pond Rd parking lot, my watch said 17 miles and I decided that was enough for the day. It was not the run I had intended, but I got to run a few early miles with Stacey, then enjoy almost 3 hours in the woods by myself on a beautifully crisp fall day, so no complaints.

Last Saturday, while loopin' for Sheila's birthday run, I had my first trail fall of the year on this course. It wasn't even on a downhill or a particularly technical part of the trail. I was chatting away, tripped on something (possibly one of my own feet) and fell face forward. It happened so fast I didn't even have that moment of panic where you know you're going to fall but there's nothing you can do about it. But somehow I did turn myself around midair so that I landed on my butt and hands and then got right back up again, a little dirtier but otherwise completely unscathed. At first I was a little bummed because I wanted to make it through the whole year without falling. But then I decided that a better goal would be to get really good at trail falling so when it inevitably happens, I can remain uninjured and keep on going. I'm hoping I've gotten all the no-good-falling-down-getting-lost juju out during these training runs so that it will be smooth sailing on race day. But I don't want to think about it too much or worry about it. Whatever will be, will be. And I'll figure it out when I get there.

Sometimes I still find myself seeking reassurances, direction, security. But if it were possible to find them, I don't think that's what I really want at all. Sure, those things are nice and comfortable, but they are also static. And I am a wanderer, an explorer, a person of motion. I need a certain amount of discomfort in order to keep growing, I need a certain amount of uncertainty in order to keep believing that anything can happen. I need to keep getting lost and falling, because that's the only way to get to the places I want to go, places that I don't even know exist yet. 

Lyric of the moment: "Settle down, it'll all be clear. Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear. The trouble, it might drag you down. But if you get lost, you can always be found..."

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