Friday, August 17, 2012

Birthday Gratitude (or the runner's high)

Today is my 45th birthday, a mid-milestone, and I got to start my day in such a favorite way; I did a 13.45 mile trail run in Redwood Park - in training for the Golden Hills Marathon.  I have come to realize that endurance running is a moving meditation for me.  It's very interesting to see where the mind wanders.  Sometimes I bring it back into the present, staying very aware of my stride and body.  At other times I let it wander and meander like the trail over the terrain.  Sometimes my thoughts are positive and at other times quite negative and I've come to accept this process because running is purging, this negativity eventually leaves my mind like the sweat drips from my body.

Today I spent hours in gratitude.  It began at 7am with the sun peeking through the fog.  Good morning sunshine!

Then I dropped down into the redwood trees along the French trail of Redwood Park and felt like the little kid that went hiking with my dad.  Whenever I run - in these amazing places that I seek out - I am brought back to those memories of my childhood.  I don't know how often we actually went hiking and camping but it made a deep impression on me.  Whenever I see streams and ferns I remember my thrill at finding newts (and other critters, but newts were always a favorite)!  Crossing the water on fallen trees!  Oh the adventures and the awe!  I am grateful to my dad for that.  And for this reason he is always with me on these adventures.   In fact, he was with me the very first time I hiked in Redwood Park!  I had recently moved to Oakland and he was visiting from Hawaii... we were in search of some nature and found it. Little did I know, that would change my life as well.

There I was this morning on a 14 mile adventure and my mind began to wonder; how did I come to this place of endurance trail running?  This 'place' that brings me so much joy.  It was only recently that I began exploring distance.  There were a few events that took place that surely were meant to be; I joined Oakland Dog Hikers (just like it sounds it is a dog hiking group) on and on my first adventure with the group discovered a trail that was so amazing; the French trail (still a favorite).  I wanted to run it.  I did the next day and it became my longest run ever to date, a six mile run.   I couldn't believe it and I felt like 'a real runner'.  For that I feel gratitude for Michelle Heathman, organizer and hike leader of ODH.  By some strange coincidence, that same night my friend Holly said "you should run the Big Sur Half Marathon with us".  My initial response was no way but I did... and it changed my life.  For this I am grateful to my dear friend Holly. 

I'm assuming the endorphins kicked in as I continued on my path, feeling gratitude for an endless number of events and friends in my life.... For my family.... For my wonderful, kind and loving boyfriend.... For my pets.... For my forty-something body that struggles along these hills....  For a phone that enables me to take photos of the amazing places I discover so I can share them with others....  For the discovery of ultra-running, which makes a full marathon distance seem like small potatoes (and to this I again give credit to Holly because she gave me the Born to Run book then through internet searches I stumbled upon and the rest is addicted history).... Grateful for my photography career which combines my love of animals with my love of photography.  Two lifelong passions....

It goes on.  I am just in a place of gratitude today.  And it feels good because there are plenty of stressful elements in life... but today I even feel grateful for those bumps, the cycle of life and the lessons learned ...

Blame it on the endorphins but I'm just one grateful girl for life today!

Happy Birthday Trails!

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