I was naughty today! I ditched the scheduled run and went wild. I went on a run like I did in the old days, the days before I began running with Eric. The only exception being that the “Franken” runner form that used to accompany me into the mountains, beating relentlessly on my knees, has vanished…

 

I ran today simply for the love of running. No direction, no plan, no Garmin wonder gadget, nothing but the freedom of setting off into the falling snow on a vacant road that wanders aimlessly into the mountains…

 

As I wound higher, the snow grew deeper, and the narrowing road folded itself into a single mountain path, my horizons expanded. I didn’t take time to labor my form or count my steps, I only took time to throw snowballs for my dog Lila and then sprint to chase her through the brush.

 

As I ran higher, the snowy trail eventually faded into the wild expanse of Montana’s mountainous terrain; snarls and shrubs, trees and rocks, grasses and snow and boundless possibilities. My feet carried me off of the trail and lightly over the side of the mountain – up…

 

The depth of my heart guided my effort, as the thought of my HR slipped into the distant past. I softened my gaze so I could soak in the light as it played on the landscape, and deepened my breath to pull in every bit of the sharp cool air and the entirety of this moment. I glided up the path of least resistance, each set of trees and meadows giving way to another possibility for going higher up the mountain into deeper alpine beauty.

The snowflakes came in softer and thicker, melting on my salty face and obscuring the distance from the roll of the top of the mountain.

 

It seemed like just a few perfect moments and there was nowhere higher to run. A thin band of sun parting the clouds, lent me a view I can never forget.  The whole valley lay rolling out beneath me in an awesome display of sun and storms, and I, for the first time in a long time, was stunned into stillness. After a moment of humble appreciation for the perfection and power of Mother Nature, I was filled with a sense of deep gratitude for Eric.

 

When I “met” Eric, I thought I was going to have to give up running. My body would no longer tolerate the beating, and my heart was heavy with this realization. I was skeptical and hopeful and desperate when Eric became my coach.  But he believed in the process and he believed in me and we got to work. Starting from scratch has been awkward and slow for me, and I won’t be setting any land speed records any time soon, but my heart is in this 100% and my body feels 1 million times better. Through his work, Eric has given me this day! To go out, simply for the love of running, and adventure to the top of a mountain in the snow with my dog and my self.

 

As I turned to follow my snow blown footsteps down the expanse of the mountain, to the lonely trail that widened to a road and led me home, I had the stark and joyful revelation that, because of Eric, I could do this again tomorrow and every day for the rest of my life.

 

But tomorrow I will be good, and get back on the path that Eric so diligently has paved for us all, knowing that there is freedom both on and off the path and both are necessary for the love of running…

 

Thank You Eric!

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Comment by Robert Burpee on May 19, 2015 at 6:39am

What beautiful poetry, you have encapsulated your journey of inspired joy, perfectly.

Thank you so much for writing and sharing it.

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The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton

The Cool Impossible: Run Beyond Limits

 
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