Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sweeping Trails and Breakfast Lead to a 50 Mile Pact


"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."
~ John Muir ~

Sweeping trails and breakfast lead to a 50 Mile Pact
Me and Kristen

Always amazing Mile90 Photography
 My wife and I have recently teamed up as course sweeps for a couple of Trail Nerds races. For those of you who do not know what sweeping is, it means following along the course and demarking it, picking up trash and making sure no one is left behind. We have a good system where she goes ahead and picks up flags and I follow behind wearing a backpack to carry everything and pick up signs and the like. It is a great way to get some time on my feet on the trails without the pressures of a race, and the only way I can keep up with her.

Creative race distance sticker
It is so nice that we can do these activities together since we both enjoy the outdoors and each other’s company. I am grateful for the time we have to talk about the trails we are on, things we are thinking about or events going on in our lives. I love how nature has a way of allowing conversation to flow easier and freer most of the time. It also gives way to peaceful solitude while you are not alone, if the parties involved do not feel the need to always fill the air with unnecessary sounds.

This last time as we arrived at the park we saw an Eagle fly directly over us and later on the trail a Blue Heron flew over us and we encountered three deer. The deer looked surprised to see us; since we were sweeping they looked at us like “what the heck took you so long? Your herd went by a while ago.” They were not afraid of us, simply as curious as we were. Kristen and I stood there for a little while and just watched them watching us. Once they saw enough they moved on deeper into the woods and we got back to work.

We cruised along with our duties and explored along the way, enjoying the day. This course was a big loop with switchbacks and pretty nice single track trails. There were some rocks and roots but not too many…just enough though. This turned out to be my third run in two days and my legs were getting tired. As we got closer to the end I guess tired legs combined with relaxing my guard some led me to catching my toe on a small root and bouncing on the ground. With the backpack on and a handful of flags I was a little like a stranded turtle for a minute. My wife came back to check on me as I was assessing the damage (minimal) and I got up, dusted myself off and moved on. If you run trails you will fall.
Yes, I felt like this
Once we turned everything over and visited with the race director for a while we headed to the car. On the way up the hill to where we parked we realized it was time to find someplace to eat. There is little better than breakfast after a run in my books. So we headed to find a place to wash up, appease our hunger and relax. We rehashed our morning and continued our conversation on how much better it was to run because you want to versus when you have to while training for something.

I was telling Kristen that as much as I do not care about t-shirts and medals, there was one thing I would like before it is all said and done. I would really like to earn a belt buckle and my only chance was a 50 miler at the end of March. I am familiar with the course because I paced a friend there last year and covered thirty-one miles of it. I told her that the one thing I did not want her to do is go aid station to aid station like she did last year. Reason being this time I would not be doing it for someone else and I was afraid that it might be too easy to have her and the car there when things began to fall apart.
Turn around point for 50 miler


I have to be honest, I did not anticipate the next turn in the dialog. That is when she said “what if I do it with you.” What? Yes, that would be great! I could try to get some friends together and we could all look out for each other and get each other through it. Wow, you never know what you might talk about during or right after a good trail run. I already have a couple of people at least thinking about it. It is great bonding time when you are out there in the middle of nowhere and the layers peel away and you can be you! 

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