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54 Years Down…

So, It’s August 12th, my 54th Runnerversary is today. 54 years, that’s 115,410 miles as of right this second.

Today was a trail run. Why a trail run? Well, Trails are better. I love trail runs for a multitude of reasons. I love them because of the scenery. I love them because of the challenge, I love them because they’re less crowded. I mostly love them because of the Earth. The Earth? Yep.

The thing about trails is that there is no buffer. Run on a track: buffer, run on asphalt: buffer, run on concrete: buffer. Trails have no buffer.

You, by the way, you (and me) wear socks, shoes…. buffers. Buffers between you and the Earth. It’s easier to live with that buffer, I guess. I’m not much of a barefoot kind of guy.

It’s okay, most people rarely think about the buffering of running and running surfaces. Most people run to compete, run for health, run for some other reason. Me, I stopped running to win, place, or show 40 years ago. I stopped running to PR 30 years ago (although PRs can always be personally instituted – this is my 10K PR for this calendar day of this year in my life on this course, wearing my red shorts…. you get the picture). Now, I began running 54 years ago because A) it looked like I could be good at it, and B) I liked the way it felt.

As mentioned, I ceased being good at it long ago, but I SOOOOO still like the way it feels. I can be having a bad knee day (something that happens with more regularity than I like) and begin by walking. I can move along at a decent clip, by the way, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Then, all of a sudden, I make the move that breaks me into a run and BAM!!!! Everything changes. It feels different in my legs, it feels different in my feet, it feels different in my head, and mostly it feels different in my heart. It’s, as they said in Sleepless in Seattle……. magic.

Almost eight years ago on the day I hit 100,000 miles, I wrote this:

“Running was/is a simple activity, cyclical in its nature. One foot placed in front of the next in order to move forward: to cover ground, to open my mind, to allow me opportunities to escape my troubles or celebrate my triumphs. Mostly, to connect me to and strengthen my relationship with this planet upon which I exist. For that, I am ecstatically, humbly grateful.”

And I am still. 

But back to the original question, why is the trail better? Simple, No buffer. It’s me and the Earth, this planet we live on. It’s me being connected to and receiving strength from this place where we all live. It’s that place where neuro-scientists are beginning to discover for real what many of us have known all along: it’s where the world slows down, makes sense….. something about lateral eye movement they’re finding. It’s the place where I can be me and no one else’s opinion or judgment means diddly squat. It is, as Simon Sinek would say, The Infinite Game.

So today, I celebrate this milestone. I’d like to think I could celebrate 21 more of these….. we’ll see, right?

Run on.