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Photo by Jason Abdilla on Unsplash

“Where am I?”

Sunday, that was the question that was running through my head. I was standing at the edge of a field, a sky gray with a light snow falling, and the picked clean carcass of a deer resting at my feet. I had been running for about an hour on a new trail. The tracks of other runners had taken a different route and my navigation senses were askew.

“Where am I?”

My tracks were still visible, but they were beginning to fill in. The combination of light wind and light snow were covering up my bread crumbs and foreshadowing a difficult run back to the car. Why I had chosen a snowy day to try a new trail was bringing more negativity to my thinking. Ego seemed like a logical answer, but too simple. This time, my commitment to an ideal that I’ve been creating for myself as some sort of age defying middle-aged adventure runner was a beginning to seem like a better answer. “I’m like Goggins or some other YouTubers.” Nah, that’s when ego meets delusion instead of logic sticking to pragmatism.

As I stood over the deer scanning the woods for a blue trail marker, I thought back to yesterday and the fun run that I had. I pulled my lazy self out of bed and met a group. The folks that I run with are evolving, a necessary action since we are all getting older. Some walk, most run slower, and our focus is more about the social opportunity than the running. My latest journey has had me questioning my loner instincts and acceptance of social burdens. The Saturday runs have become hard because I’m not as at ease socially as I should be and I’ve still got a training mentality.

On this run, I went ahead and picked up my pace. One of the guys went along with me, and he chatted for a while. I tried, but couldn’t keep up the conversational pace. After a diversion from the regular route to add some distance to the run and give the group time to catch up, he chose the friendlier pace and off I went again. With the steps ticking off and my breathing settling into a comfortable rhythm I felt at ease. I was alone on a run, but checking back in with the group at certain points. I hoped that others didn’t think I was being rude. Looking back, I was probably the only one thinking anything of it.

Back at the trail, the cold began to get under my layers and I knew I had to commit to running along the unknown trail through fresh snow and what I thought might be private property or heading back to the car. I chose to go back and found the trail to be more different in this direction. It was mostly downhill, which had me focused on my footing. I became so obsessed on finding my old tracks and noticing bulges of landmine rocks in the snow that I missed a turn and found myself breaking a new trail. Thankfully, I only added about five minutes to the run before correcting my error.

Two falls later, one a slip on a downhill and one a poor job of scrambling over a tree, and I was back to a section with three stream crossings. They had been easier on the way out and with the grace of a bowling ball I made it across all of them dry. Finally, I made it back to the car. After changing and eating some wonderful cupcakes from an Oofos rep, it was time for home.

I just didn’t know how to get there.

Thank goodness for GPS.

If there was such a thing for my head…

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Exercising, writing, and dreaming...

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Chris Hancock

Chris Hancock

Exercising, writing, and dreaming...

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