Last night I was going to join a trail running group on a run up the Pipeline Trail. As I headed out for the run, it was an absolute downpour and I wondered if anyone would actually show up. The rain was heavy enough I actually put the Jeep into 4-wheel drive because of the depth of the water on the freeway and side roads.
When I got to the trailhead, I was the only runner there. I had on a new pair of trail running shoes and I was (strangely enough) looking forward to a short run in the rain, so decided to head out to the stream crossing and then come back. I met a couple of bicyclists coming out the first hundred yards who warned me the trail was pretty bad. Other than that, I had the entire run to myself.
The trail had several sections where it was totally covered in water and I was careful to avoid those sections because I was afraid to twist an ankle with a marathon coming up on Saturday. It was magical up there on the Pipeline Trail. I think this is one of the few times I have had the trail entirely to myself and it was so quiet with just the sound of the rain on the trees. It was not a cold rain, just refreshing. As I ran along I started praying. Not only did this turn out to be one of my all-time favorite runs, but it turned into my longest prayer ever. I think it had to do with being able to appreciate the magic and beauty of nature, but I had so much that I needed to thank my Heavenly Father for and it all just seemed to keep flowing out.
For anyone who has not experienced the joys of trail running, it is hard to describe why I love trails. But I will try. Trail running is usually much more challenging than road running. It is rarely flat and you cannot let your brain turn off because you have to watch for rocks and roots and other obstacles. The uphills can be a killer, the downhills can be a blast. I think that we as human beings spend so much time surrounded by noise and man-made objects – buildings, furniture, other humans, etc – and that we basically crave getting back to where we can appreciate life and solitude. Trails and nature are so refreshing and give back so much more than we put into them.
My plans for the night were an easy three mile run. Before I knew it, I had reached the three mile turnaround (not the 1.5 mile turnaround) and ended up running a total of 6 miles. I didn’t wear a watch tonight, but I think I finished in a little over an hour – so it was probably one of my fastest six miles ever, but felt effortless. I was soaked to the skin, covered in mud, and happier than I have been for a long, long time.