Sunday, May 16, 2010

High Definition Trail Run

I was running through spider webs stretched from one side of the trail to the other, brushing up against branches and vegetation, tripping over roots, breathing in the many scents of the forest, taking in the vibrant colors and hearing nothing but the sounds of the plants and the animals carrying on their blessed day.  It was the perfect day to be up on the gorgeous Ridgeline Trail in southwest Eugene with my only companion being my four-legged running partner, Japhy.  My Border Springer was thrilled to be out for a long run with me on this sunny spring morning.  This was a welcome respite from my several weeks of running the hard, unforgiving roads and bike paths with their obtrusive vehicular traffic, self-absorbed folks taking up more than their share of the path, traffic lights interrupting my running flow and views that I see in my mundane day to day life.  As soon as I hit the trail, it was as if a  switch was flipped. Today's run was a high definition, three dimensional delicious experience that made me feel downright giddy.

Not only had I immensely missed the trails these last several weeks, but I had also forgotten how meditative and cleansing running alone in nature's sanctuary could be.  The worries of the week were washed away as I took in the simplicity of nature.  The contrast of the deep purple wild iris shooting up from the chartreuse ferns and Jacob's Ladder were treasured gifts and reminders to appreciate sweet surprises and contrasts in my own life.  The sound of the water running down rocks and into glistening streams was more beautiful than any song on my iPod.  It reminded me of the continuity of life.  Like a branch falling from a tree, landing in a stream and bumping thorough protruding rocks before floating effortlessly along into smooth waters, we too hit rough spells in our lives that might be unsettling, scary and turbulent, but with patience and faith, transform into new realities.

Up, up, up the hills I went.  Sometimes running at a slow, easy pace and sometimes power walking with all my leg muscles activated.  The summit of each hill, no matter how temporary, was a welcome milestone along my journey.  Feeling the return of my normal pace, speed and running stride for a short straight along this hilly trail, made me appreciate them that much more.  Down, down, down the hills I went.  Shortening my stride and surrendering to gravity, I barreled down the hill with reckless abandon.  It was so fun, I couldn't help but shout whoops of joy on each crazy descent.

Japhy trotted along right in front of me. His ears drawn back to hear my footsteps and judge whether he needed to speed up of slow down to match my pace.  He made an excellent running partner this day.  As much a I look forward to and love running in the company of my running partner, momma runners and my husband, today no apologies or explanations were necessary when I needed to slow down, wanted to kick into high speed or stop to tie a shoe, take a drink or eat a snack.  Initially, I worried that I would be lonely or even scared out there on my own because of the recent cougar sightings, but today, it felt perfect.  Next week, I look forward to having two-legged companionship with the random conversation- sometimes deep, often time peppered with humor, but always interesting.  Today, though, I was the navigator of this experience and Japhy was along for the ride.  I could tell by his silly perma-grin that he was having the time of his life out there too.

Time flew by on the trails and before I knew it I was putting in the last few miles completely unaware of how much time had passed.  My legs were burning from exertion and my whole body was fatigued but my mind and spirit felt like I had spent nearly three hours in a deep meditation.  All the tension had melted from my body.  I felt a mental clarity that I had been lacking for some time.  Some people go to yoga, mediation classes, church or other places of worship, I on the other hand, prefer to slip into the protective embrace and solitude of forest trails for renewal, to find my humble place in the universe and to feel closer to the prescence of a higher power.


  1. You really got the feel for it in this one. The lushness of that section of trail is totally rejuvenating.

  2. Wow, can I frame this one? Seriously, what a great piece of writing, Leah. When I read your blog, I always feel like I'm running right behind you (which of course is not a surprise since you're always faster than me on the trail :-) And Japhy is such a lucky pup! Thanks for sharing him with me on some of our runs.