Seen on the run: Appreciating what I’ve been missing on the trails

Sometimes you run your life, but sometimes your life runs you.

That’s the world I’ve been living in for the last month or so. As much as I’d like to believe my solidly middle-class income is going to take care of business, the fact is, such an income isn’t what it used to be. When the tax bill game in at four figures for the second year in a row, something had to be done.

So I ended up picking up some extra work, and all other things have taken a pretty good hit as of late.

I’ve you’ve been on this site very much, you know how much I crave my time outside and on the trails. You can probably surmise that someone like me not being on the trails for several weeks might not be a good thing.

This weekend, however, I found a small slice of my day where I could get away and get some “me” time on the trails.

Needless to say, the greenery of spring has most certainly taken over. Compared to early spring, the trails look almost like a jungle now.

Looking down into some beautiful, thick greenery.

Looking down into some beautiful, thick greenery.

I took my time. No bombing downhills, no hard-charging the inclines, no up-tempo bursts of speed on the flats. My conditioning sucks right now anyway, and I really wanted to be able to wallow in nature for while. To slow down and look around. To notice the details.

Two signs, of very different styles, pointing the way.

Two signs, of very different styles, pointing the way.

The temperatures were in the upper 80s, and a strong south breeze weaved its ways through the trees, cooling me off. I startled a few critters here and there — squirrels, a rabbit, birds and such. Surprisingly, there weren’t many people out — a few hikers, a couple of cyclists, and no runners. That was fine by me. The sounds of the woods, and oh man, the smells — those sweet, woodlands smells — were more than enough.

And again, you notice things when you’re alone. You slow down and pay attention to what’s around you. You realize that the sounds of the wind going through the trees differ from those when it’s blowing through prairie grasses.

Tall grasses swaying in the wind on a balmy spring day.

Tall grasses swaying in the wind on a balmy spring day.

This particular trail run would have been pretty ordinary, if not for the circumstances preceding it. I’ve missed my trails, my woods, my time away from “real life.” What I learned, or rather was reminded of, was that you have to appreciate the now. It might be awhile before I get to enjoy the solitude of a nice, long trail run. Bills to pay, you know. But when that opportunity arises — whenever, wherever, and for what length of time — I need to be sure to drink it in deeply.

Bob Doucette

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