At the end of June 2021, I had a heat stroke while running a trail race. I’m still trying to figure out how this happened, what signals my body was trying to send me that I must have ignored. I’m still trying to move forward, both mentally and physically, with both grace and determination.
Trail Sisters Journal
It is that time of the year when I find myself reflecting on what I wish the new year to look like. I am at the point where I am trying to figure out where I want to grow, learn, or create. With the new year finally here, I also start to wonder what adventures I want to be part of, what events or races I would like to challenge myself with.
Last year I eagerly gave in to the pull of the (socially-distanced) crowd. I’m not exactly sure what prompted this new journey. Possibly it was the pandemic-imposed time at home, or all the couch-based surfing of running accounts I follow on social media. Or maybe it was just middle age attempting to insert its increasingly-wrinkled face into my world. Whatever the reason, running quickly raced up to podium-level status on my weekly schedule.
As trail runners and hikers, we spend a lot of time outdoors, off in nature, taking in the sounds and smell and sights…or do we? How much do we really notice when we’re out there? What do we think about as the miles and hours tick by? Of the calls you heard, how many could you identify?
You can get going in three steps; lace up, out the door, start running. The same could be said of trail running, but not quite. Sure, you still lace up but unless you have a mountain in your backyard, getting to a trail requires some means of transportation.
When I was growing up, PE was my favorite class of the day because I could run and accumulate more stars on my shirt than anybody in school. Every lap received a star, and I ran the entire 45 minutes of PE class. Little did I know that running would become my passion and would be instrumental to the rest of my life.
About 4-5 weeks post surgery I decided I should try to incorporate a little running on my walks. It was nothing spectacular, just a minute jog every 5-10 minutes. I was struck by how difficult it felt, and admittedly struggled with some negative thoughts that I had lost so much fitness and questioning whether I would ever get back.
Gear failures in the backcountry happen to everyone at some point. Some are major, such as a broken pack strap. Others are minor such as a tear in your clothing. All backpackers should carry a few items for basic field repairs and tap into their inner MacGyver creativity when something goes awry.
I am that person. You know the one whose social media shared all of the photos of scenic views, mountains, switchbacks, boulders, rivers, wildlife, changing colors of the seasons, and snow. Then life happened. My husband’s job changed, and we trekked across the country. We landed in Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C.
Moving forward. That is my mantra as I hike uphill on Catalina Island. Off the coast of southern California, I struggle under both the weight of my pack and my sadness while the hot sun beats down. In the months after my husband’s death, I made it my mission to visit places special to our relationship, in order to give homage to both him and our past.