Sometime over the past ten or eleven years I became one of those slightly deranged people who like to run on trails. I really don't remember exactly where or when or even what motivated me to move from a nice brisk hiking pace to one of sometimes reckless abandoment. Now all I seem to know is that when I spend a number of days living my life like society says that I am supposed to that I am not happy with that person I am at that moment.
One of the first places I can really recall running on trails was at Hedgehog Mountain here in Freeport. I found a nice network of trails there right near our dump, and it became my favorite place to walk with my first husky, Quasi. I'm not sure if I was jealous of watching him gracefully running through the forests or I just wanted to try out some new shoes I had gotten at work that were called "trail runners."
All I know from there is that I loved it. I was fortunate that just about that time a local running club was being formed in the area and that soon I was able to hook up with other people who found the same passion and that there were actual races to compete in as well.
I don't know what the spark was for all those others either but I do know why the spark has become a flame that can't really be extinquished. That flame is a bridge. Not a real bridge, but some kind of metaphorical bridge that exists in our minds and stomachs, can be felt tingling in our fingertips, wondering can I do it? Can I really do that race? Can I run that far? Can I overcome that pain? And will all that training and sacrifice be worthwhile if I do, or don't?
Trails change all the time. It can be due to the change of season when mud overtakes snow, tress fall in the way, trees get removed, landowners aim gets better, etc... Since I started running with Quasi I've seen many changes to the trails at Hedgehog. Most minor that may make my feet move in a new direction as I'm now running these trails with my two year old husky Wild.
One major change took place late this summer on a Wednesday night. There was an extremely heavy rainfall that night that caused some flooding in our area. I wasn't out running that night. I was actually sitting at home worried about my wife who was out running with some friends preparing for a half marathon. Our sump pump couldn't even keep up with the rain, and as I cleaned up the cellar I anxiously waited for her to come home. Fortunately, she made it home safely despite having to drive around some flooded out roads.
There is one bridge on the Hedgehog trails that didn't survive. It was put there by some snowmobilers for them to cross a stream that lies in a gully between some hills. It was pretty wide and not all that even with a good six to ten inches between the planks. Whenever I came upon it running I always had to slow down to carefully walk across it not wanting to slip off it. Not that I would ever drown if I fell. I was more concerned about twisting my ankle or knee, still a nicer concern to have than to be hit by a car driven by a driver texting their grocery list to someone else.
Now what remains of that bridge has been washed downstream a couple hundred feet. Someone did throw a few big rocks in the stream for people to negotiate over to avoid soaked feet. I still need to slow down to cross and even stop to let Wild get a drink.
After having completed my first one hundred miler earlier this summer, I feel as if another bridge is gone. I know what I am capable of. I know the sacrifices I have made are worthwhile as the feeling I have after that race are indescribable but lie deep in my soul. I know that there are still many other bridges that exist that I look forward to crossing before they are swept away by nature and time. Perhaps running on all these trails has helped me live life in this world as it has been created for all of us. All I really know is that despite changes I need to go on being the person I want to be.