After a discussion with Craig Fleming, owner of Haven Shoes in Lock Haven, Pa. and a trail runner, I am opting out of doing the Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect. I have written in the past that the intensity of this experience, hiking, walking and a very little bit of running over 5,000 feet of elevation gain was more than equal to a marathon. So even if in distance, I did not complete a marathon, in spirit, I more than accomplished my goal, I wrote.
For some reason, late last year, I told myself that to not complete the “actual” marathon distance would mean I had not completed my goal by the time I was 40. I then began thinking of doing the God’s Country Marathon in Galeton, Pa. and even writing about it here as if I would do it.
However, since then, my motivation has dropped to nil and only yesterday after talking with Craig did I realize a major part of the reason why.
Craig talked about his love of trail running, hiking and organizing an event called the Hyner View Trail Challenge. He talked about assisting people on the course to finish, even though they thought they would be “cut off.” As race director, though, he said he believed the important thing is to finish.
He also talked about helping a group of race directors for another race/hike and suggesting they not be so exclusive to only runners running for times or place finishes.
Craig also mentioned the God’s Country Marathon and how usually the race only has about 150 runners each year, and how competitive it is. The focus is on the medals unlike the Megatransect where every finisher receives a medal just for finishing the grueling course.
All of this also prompted me to think back on the times I was most happy running. It was when I was on local trails and not on roads. On the roads, I feel like I have to stay out of the way of drivers. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder. Plus if I stop and walk, as odd as it sounds, I feel like drivers are watching me and thinking what a failure. “Look, he’s walking.” Of course, that is most likely not the case, especially in the winter, when it is more likely they’re thinking, “What is he doing out here in this?”
I’ve thought about why I prefer trail running to road running. Namely, I can think of three reasons:
- softer surface versus of the trail versus pavement
- nature versus roads
- solitude versus people
Plus pavement bores me. With a trail, usually you don’t know what’s coming and even if you do, conditions change more than on a road. I enjoy not knowing what’s around the next corner.
So to this end, once again I am preparing for the Megatransect. I may do other races along the way, including the Hyner View and other races Craig organizes. But I am not locked into doing something by my 40th birthday. Instead, I am going to celebrating going into 40 and then being 40.
I am at “middle age,” I hope and this is a time not to be sad, but be glad I can do what I can — whatever that is, whether running, hiking, walking or even crawling through a course as tough as the Megatransect. I am just grateful to be here.