“What you see, well, you might not know
You get the feelin' comin' after the glow
The vagabond is moving slow
So I'll tell you all the story
'Bout the joker and the thief in the night

~Wolfmother – Joker and the Thief~

Saturday morning I am on the Lawrence River trails doing a preview run for the Pi Day Rotation half marathon with some members of the Lawrence Trail Hawks. It was 30 degrees with 13 mph wind coming off the river and the trail was not bad since we ran early and the ground was still partially frozen but it will get muddy later you can tell. As we enter the trail I see a card on the ground and it turns out to be a Joker…I will laugh to myself later as I realize the significance of this find. It really is a beautiful morning as we see a Bald Eagle carrying a branch back to its nest site. After a while I notice that I am working hard but I feel pretty good so far. The course is two five mile loops and a three mile loop to finish. After a little while the three guys up front begin to pull away and Carl stays back with me. We pass the others periodically throughout the morning on the loops and I notice how easy they are cruising along. Talking and looking almost like they are not exerting much effort at all. I remind myself not to compare myself to them; after all every one of them runs ultras or at least marathons. This is where the vision of the Joker card came to me and I laugh in spite of myself. At the end while enjoying a piece of cherry pie I told them “it is not that I am slow, I take the anchor position to make sure everyone makes it off the trail safely.” Yes, it is okay to laugh if you know me; I do want everyone safe but I am slow.

And so with this run I begin my quest of three trail half marathons in three months. The first is not an official race but it is a preview and an official course on trails I really enjoy running; the second two are races, one at Clinton Lake and the other at Lake Perry. I was excited to get a chance to do the preview run because I wanted to do the race but chose the 10K at Wyandotte County Lake Park instead which is scheduled the same weekend. It does not matter to me that this was not an official race and I will not get a metal, I am not in this for that stuff anyway. For the same reason, I am planning an impromptu marathon distance in between the 20 miler and the 50K. The plan (August or September) is to use the loop trails at Shawnee Mission Park across from the marina and simply keep moving until 26.2 miles are covered. It would be great to have some friends join in and keep us company and lend moral support. I invite people to join in as much or as little as they would like, or just come out and cheer and make noise.  

This got me thinking…okay, everything gets me thinking. I hear people all the time after they reach a goal say “Now what?” or “What’s next?” Many even slip into depression or stagnation after big events or achieving a life changing goal. I do not want this to be the case once I complete my long awaited and most challenging goals. I am focusing on a few milestones this year and once I reach these I am planning on getting back to basics. Ditching my watch and GPS and running as the spiritual act I feel it is, with no expectations and limits. I am not going to say that I will not run in races, but if I do they will be run the same way. I will be grateful for the earth under my feet and appreciate the beauty and every obstacle it has to offer.

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