[The following post was written by Kate Kift. Kate is one of the writers I recently recruited to occasionally write for BRU. Check out her blog "Ramblings on Barefoot Running, Motherhood, and Life" to read more.]
I have been a secret fan of yours for a long time and I think it’s time I told you the truth about my feelings for you. I admit, I wasn’t always a fan. When I was younger and more naïve, my shoes and I would prefer to hang out with “Road”. “Road” was safer, easier and although it wasn’t much fun, it allowed me to go out and get the exercise I needed. This was back in the days when I saw running as a way of being accepted by society – a tool to getting into a size 4 – and not a way to have fun.
Then it all changed. “Road” and shoes conspired against me. They took my affections and they trampled on them. They laughed and tormented me to the point where even the doctors told me to stay away from running; stay away for my own good. After my stress fractures started to heal, I took my battered heart away from the Running shoe store and decided to search for a more worthy champion of my affections.
Eventually my heart and ankles healed and I saw a likely candidate. Barefoot running. Maybe this could be the answer. After a few tentative “dates” I finally realized what I had been missing. The joy of being connected properly to the ground; of actually being able to feel what my ancestors had always known, but we had forgotten. I was overwhelmed. I took it slow with Barefoot running; I didn’t want to get broken again. After a while, my form, calves and “Canckles” had come to the point where I was now ready for the next level of commitment. Little did I know that Barefoot running was just leading me to something greater.
So with my stinky pink Vibram Five Fingers, I found you. Trail. As soon as I ventured out on your gravel and bark covered paths, I knew it. This was home. I then realized that this is what running is about. I was warned to stay away from you. I shouldn’t let my minimal self come close. Think of the rocks, the twigs, the acorns. How could you avoid all of the potential dangers? My friends cautioned me; stay away from Trail, especially in your non-cushioned, non-motion-controlled state. Trail WILL hurt you. I ignored all of my friends protests and recommendations. I continued to see you. Occasionally at first, but then I became infatuated. I started choosing you over “Road”. No matter how exciting “Road” tried to be with it’s big races and crowds I still thought of you. As my love for you grew, my need to run with you increased. I felt wrong; out of place, if I couldn’t be with you every day.
Then you became frosty and icy. You turned cold. Your paths tried to trip me up and bring me to my knees. You made our relationship difficult. I did stay away at first. I took a break. I resorted to retail therapy and chocolate to compensate, but you were never far from my mind. Once the Christmas chocolates were finished and my waistline had expanded to “muffin-top” proportions, I knew I had to come back. It was time to try again.
I know you see other people. You don’t discriminate who you take love from. I hear stories about you from other runners. I see you with the “Walkers” and their companions, “Strollers” and “Dogs”. I know that as soon as you are finished with me, you are onto the next runner or walker on the list. I don’t care. I don’t care, because I know, that you will never find anyone who is as passionate about you as me.
I love the way that you are never the same. Sometimes you are costal. Sometimes you are mountains. Sometimes you are forest. Sometimes you are all. No matter what guise you appear in, every moment with you is different. I could run the same path endlessly and yet you always change one part of yourself – sunshine, cloud, rain, season – that shows me how different you can be. Even on the same run, your versatility is unbounded.
I love the way your gravel crunches beneath me. The way I can feel you presence in the soles of my feet. I love the way you make me dance through the tree’s and bushes. The breath of wind you give me when I am hot is like a soft caress. You are beautiful as the sunlight shines through your leaves. On every new run, you show me hidden parts of yourself. Even if it is a small as a new bud or flower, I always feel that I am the only one that has seen that side of you. Your little “up’s and down’s” just inspire me to work harder, tread lighter and run faster. When you change the terrain on me, I don’t back down. I take it as a challenge. I will run with you regardless of what you throw at me.
There are times when you have had to teach me a lesson; to reminded me how special you are. When I have taken you for granted, you have taught me respect. I have been defeated by you, but then as I come crawling back, you have forgiven me readily. Just when I thought you would never let me back, you provide me with the best time and I just love you more.
You challenge me on so many different levels. You challenge my body. I have to be strong to run with you. I have to be limitless in my energy. I need to keep my attention focused on you all the time; you challenge my brain. I need to constantly think of the best path with you and I need to do it quickly and I need to do it right. If I do not pay attention, then you make me slip and then pressure me to get up and try again. You force me to work all of myself. My body, my heart, my soul and my mind.
I suppose, deep down, I just want to thank you for all you have given me over the last couple of years. I just want you to realize that my passion for you hasn’t diminished; in fact I am spurred on to be with you more. Already I am planning new adventures together. More miles, more runs, more challenges. I want to spend more time with you. I want to see all that you have to offer. Seek the highest peek, view the valley below us. I want to view all of the world’s greatest vista’s and I want to do it all with you. I know, this is a little much to take. I suppose I just wanted to say that “I am here”; I am not going anywhere and if you ever needed some company I am always available.
(Your local minimalist trail runner)
p.s How does a 30 miler in July sound?