That’s it. Swift, strong, smart. My mantra for running Cruel Jewel next week. If you’ve kept up any with my endless blogging, you will learn that I am quite creative and visual. I am also Cherokee, and as I grow older I am finding great joy in learning more about my heritage and our native ancestors. I spent much of my early childhood on reservations and near tribal lands due to my father’s work with different tribes. I love the stories and storytelling as it suits my vivid imagination. This imagination really seems to fire up on long trail runs. It’s a time for me to meditate, pray, soul search, connect, understand. It is also a time to get a little bored ;0)...That is when I get mischievous and start dreaming up stories of animals, intermingling them with legends and stories from my Cherokee ancestors and other tribes. Cherokee elders have encouraged me to “make the stories your own” It is good to change and adapt them and retell, putting a personal spin on them. It is in this context I hope to lead you into where I am going.
As any normal human being attempting things that seem impossible, confidence can be hard to come by. The “voices of reason” step in...the Walters if you will (again...see previous blogs to meet ole Walter). Walter says things like, “you are 41 years old with 3 children, husband, and full time job...don’t you think it’s selfish to do all this running?”, “You will never be fast….and why do you want to be fast anyway?”, “Do you really think you are inspiring others or just hoping to justify what you want to do?”. “Skyrunning?...really?...you live in Oklahoma...you will die.” Walter isn’t a bad guy, he’s not right or wrong, he challenges me...and I am learning to let him be there and be ok with that. I think ultimately he’s trying to protect me so I still have affection for him.
Now, Cruel Jewel is on the very near horizon. The kick off to the US Skyrunning Series (I am registered for all 5 events). In keeping with my Native American roots, and to help me focus on what I want to look like/be like/feel like as a runner. And considering my recent dive into animal storytelling, I decided to think about animals, what animal embodies the qualities I want to embody as I run. I thought about how animals run. The deer...fast and graceful...but for brief courses. The rabbit...fast, smart, a little tricky, but again not the endurance runner. The horse? Definitely can go the distance, but more of a walk. The wolf? I had never really thought about a wolf on the run or as a runner, but the first word that came to mind was “swift”. Although not the fastest dude in nature, swift….efficient...does fit. What about endurance? I did a little research...they can travel up to 30-50 miles a day and cruise at about 5mph when traveling. Yup 5mph is a run and not too far off how fast a human might be able to move over that distance. What else comes to mind? Strong...the wolf embodies strength, strength of body and form, strength of mind also. And they are smart. So I tried it out..went for a run and visualized how a wolf runs...swift, strong, smart. And there’s my mantra and my visualization.