Follow your heart

I realized something yesterday. Something kind of amazing. I have the heart of an athlete. I’m not talking about VO2max, or endurance strength. I’m talking about a spirit of adventure. The desire to push my body to see what it’s capable of, to constantly challenge myself and reach for new highs. That’s new for me. Even when I ran when I was in my 30’s, that desire wasn’t there. Running was a means to an end then, it was about weight management and stress relief. It was never about challenging myself.

I made this realization on a trail hike at Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. It was not a challenging hike at all, in fact it was really easy. But, as I looked up that sheer rock face, it dawned on my that I would like to try my hand at scaling that wall. Now, if you read my last post, or if you were looking at the Badlands from a satellite position somewhere above the atmosphere on Thursday, and you saw me crab walking down that crumbly, sheer faced rock, you’re probably laughing out loud about now. I know that I’m not physically up to the challenge of climbing Devil’s Tower, but I also know that I could be. And, that will be something I work toward over the next year. Wow, never thought I would say that.

The last two days have been filled with fun adventures. Gary & I are early risers and we hit the major tourist attractions in and around Deadwood. Mount Rushmore was on Friday, after a really early start in order to get a sunrise shot in the Badlands. Mount Rushmore deserves its own post, though, so that will probably be tomorrow’s blogpost as we begin the journey back home. Gary went back to Upton, Wyoming today to compete in a motorcycle race, and I’m left to my own devices. The first order of business was a really nice long run on George S Mickelson Trail, a rails to trails project that begins in Deadwood and ends over a 100 miles up the track. I only ran the first 3.5 so that I could get in a 6 miler, but it was truly a beautiful, worship filled run. It was just me, the deer, lots of rabbits, and God. I stopped often and made pictures, so it wasn’t a particularly fast run, but I made up for it on the last 3 miles. I’m only including one of those images here.

There may come a day that I can no longer run, no longer dream of the ability to scale a sheer rock face. But, praise God, today is not that day.

The real reason I run

We finally arrived at our first destination, rump sprung (a word I learned from my Daddy) and a little on the snarky side with each other. But, we’re here.  In the Badlands.  Two and a half very long days of travel had us ready for some movement. We got checked in to our lodging, then immediately changed into our running clothes. After over a week of no running, then 20 odd hours of confinement, putting on my running gear felt as good as coffee with an old friend.

After some discussion, we decided we would do some of the hikes the Badlands National Park offers, rather than run along the narrow, fairly heavily trafficked road. We only have tonight here, so we wanted to see as much as possible.  Maps, water, cameras, and we were off. We decided on Notch trail, it offered about a 3 mile round trip, and we knew we would head off some side journeys. It’s late, and we have a really early morning tomorrow, so I won’t bore you with all the details. It was an awesome hike, we saw deer, birds nesting in the rock face, very playful chipmunks (we disturbed one who was having a mud bath), bats, and lots of flora and fauna. The trail was labeled as moderate to strenuous, but it wasn’t too bad. At least until we veered off it in search of a great sunset shot. The rock face was fairly sheer, the footing was precarious and slippery, and turns out, my hiking shoes are a half size too small. Anyway, there was no major incident, only one small slip, although, I’ll admit sitting on the top of the rock, I was not my usual calm, unruffled self. I may have even been a little on the other side of snarky by then. Gary took it in stride though, even though I wouldn’t have blamed him had he tossed me over & claimed I fell. It sounds like something that I would do, particularly if you’ve ever seen me hike up a sheer rock face lined with gravel. Regardless, the sunset was magnificent (as Gary promised it would be) and we made it down the mountain.

This is the real reason that I run. I do love running for so many reasons, but when it comes down to brass tacks, I want to be able to live life. To look at a sheer rock face and think, that may be daunting, but I know I can do it. The Jayne of four years ago could never have done what I did today. And, that’s reason enough for me.

Enjoy the images. These are my IPhone pics, we have a really long day tomorrow, so I’ll have to share the others later.