Into the Woods I Must Go

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

I love the woods. I love their mystery, beauty, and the secrets they hold.

I often think the city girl in me has forever washed away and has been replaced with a spirit indefinitely entwined with the great outdoors. Having had limited experiences to spend time in the woods growing up other than two brief weekends a year at Girl Scout camp “upstate,” (a very relative term here in New York) it is now evident that I was missing out on something much greater than myself.

And now, I sometimes find it difficult to fathom that I have settled where I am, where trails abound and on a clear day you can see for miles. At the end of the day the concrete jungle is no match for upstate New York and the Hudson Valley if this is any indication:

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I’ve been on a bit of a trail race bender this season. Hiking is one of my favorite activities but I was always too unsure of myself and my ability to attempt a trail race. My mind had me convinced that this wasn’t for me. After all, my numerous stumbles and tumbles and shaky-ankled rock scrambling run-ins previously on trails told me so. But, the mind isn’t as fearless as the heart. I took the plunge and fell in love.

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Sunday’s trail half marathon at Minnewaska State Park in the Shawangunk Mountain ridge just outside of New Paltz marked my third trail race endeavor this season. I vowed to use the time outdoors wisely and to savor the breathtaking views I knew the day had in store for me, enjoying it all with my friend Jen who I happily ran into that morning. Mother Nature was showing off last Sunday and failed to disappoint.

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I’d be lying if I said that this was my fastest half marathon but sometimes races aren’t about speed. Sometimes they’re not races to test endurance; rather, they’re races against the universe’s watch to see how much life you can experience before your time on this planet ceases to exist.

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Jen and I took our time and finished in 2:43:16. There’s no question that I would run this race again. It’s so important to treasure nature’s gifts, spend time outdoors, and enjoy what this world has to offer you. After all, it’s priceless.

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