It is exactly one week before my first obstacle race of the year, the Arizona Super Spartan.  Weather this morning in central Kentucky was 40 degrees and rainy.  I knew I needed to run and I needed to do it in the worst of ways.  I was not feeling it, but I also knew it was inevitable.  I needed another training day in my Inov-8 X Talons racing shoes so it had to happen.  I delayed it as long as possible by doing some strength and core training, but finally pulled on my super duper Spartan Race sweatshirt and headed out into the dampness.  These racing shoes are not road shoes, so I stayed in the grass most of the time to prevent destruction of my ‘talons’.

The first mile or so it was just a slightly miserable run, but then something changed.  I had cleared the major inclines and was cruising along when I started having some fun.  The misty rain was tickling my face and the mud puddles were entertaining.  The run became more about enjoying my time out in nature without phones, televisions, computers, and music that too often invades and interrupts.  A minute or so after I settled into this mindset, things got real.  I mean really REAL.  I was making the turn at the end of one of the cul de sacs, just like I had dozens of times before when I looked somewhat longingly at the undeveloped lot that opened over a hillside.  After one slight hesitation I made the quick decision to run off into the field.  Much better.  I didn’t have a plan or a route or even know what the terrain ahead of me looked like.  I was just running and this felt (for the lack of a better term) real.  My shoes were wet and muddy.  My feet were soaking wet.  The sweatshirt was weighted down with water.  My face was like the windshield of a car after a heavy dew.  That’s what made it real.  When I crossed over the steep hill and made my descent, it too me back to the many miles running up and down the undisturbed hillsides mountain sides of Killington at the Vermont Beast. When I saw a creek at the bottom of the hill my heart skipped a little.  Over the hill I ran, through the brush and bramble and into the icy water I went.  Aaaahhhh COLD WATER!!  Super cold water that felt glacial on my feet.  This is what I was used to in my races.  After emerging from the creek, I took off running down the road…..feet feeling like little oblong ice blocks.  My shoes are awesome, though and they shed the water quickly as my feet slowly came back to life.  Before long, a culvert came into site.  Yay!!  Back in the creek and through the culvert I went.  Little things like that bring me great pleasure.  After a while I reversed my route and ran back home to get my camera.  I couldn’t pass up the oppportunity to take some pictures.

I grabbed the camera and eagerly returned to the sloshy, numbing water and mud route.  This was real.  It was not sidewalks.  It was not asphalt.  It was not an indoor track, nor a treadmill, nor any type of paved route.  It was just me enjoying the fact that I could run and soak up life (and water) as it came my way.  I don’t know how many miles I ran and I don’t really care.  After I peeled off my muddy socks and shoes and my rain-drenched sweatshirt that weighed about 10 pounds, I settled into some nice dry, warm, comfortable stretching while drinking my yummy recovery drink.  Yes, today running became real for me.