I'm cool with running laps. Really. Lots of them. This system has its tough moments for long-distance runners, but it's still running, so it still makes me happy. But today, at mile 6, I could not take the misery. The path was feeling crowded, and my pace was decent, but I just wanted to be in the woods alone. No depression drove me to want that, instead, the desire came from the freedom chamber in my heart that needed to be bled back to thriving life. I wanted to be excited to be in nature and no longer force my soles to eat from the labor of circular monotony and undiscovery that was only pavement deep.
I steered myself onto the real trail. My feet escaped a singular puddle. I progressed. At the sight of the next puddle, my thought was, "Why would I avoid that delightful puddle, when my feet could dance in it instead?"
I splashed and splattered, my pace decreasing while inversely my joy was increasing. This is what it's about. Not numbers and splits and phones that cannot even survive underwater. But about thousands of droplets of mud invading the mesh in my shoes to envelop me in a liquid embrace.
I trotted down another trail, tasting the papery silkness of a Spring spiderweb. I grabbed the nearest 2-foot stick and held it in front of my face. My shield made me feel like the world's most liberated native. Like a welcomed member of a tribe of running hunters. I had my sword to combat the enemy, namely, spiderwebs. It worked stealthily as I felt the webs break on my shoulders and not the bridge of my nose.
I sloshed and ran with my stick and my water bottle. I sprinted, walked, climbed, descended, crossed bridges. And once I had reached my goal of 12 miles, I noticed that my time had gotten pretty terrible, my legs had been destroyed with mud, and I had had a very fun adventure.
That's why I run through mud puddles. That's why I run through spiderwebs. That's why I run trails.