Monday, May 27, 2013

Not Lost.... just adding miles

When I started running trails, I had this intense fear of getting lost in the woods. I had visions of me huddled into a ball gnawing on tree bark for food for weeks on end while search parties scoured Southern Indiana for me. I found a six mile loop trail and stuck to it like glue, because I'm a total control freak. And, a total control freak always wants to know EXACTLY where she's going, EXACTLY what turns to takes, and I wanted to appear to have complete control over ALL situations at ALL times. Easy living, right????

My husband on the other hand loves to go out with a loose game plan, an old map, and see what happens. I do not understand how we have been married for 10 years. I guess opposites attract?

BUT this year I have carefully stepped out of my comfort zone and started getting to know some new trails. Often on my own! I've always had a fairly decent internal compass and I love maps. So, I threw caution to the wind (not really, I had multiple maps, GPS enabled cell phone that was always with me, plenty of water, and always extra food) and started to explore some new trails. I gained so much confidence and fell in love with so many new areas. Everything was magic.

and then
A group of friends and I set out to run a local trail race course. The smaller group of faster runners took off ahead of the second group, the weather was perfect and we had lovely company. These were trails I had run on and explored quite a bit in my recent training round. So, with map in hand, we felt sure that we were prepared for an easy 9 mile run in the woods.
and then
We got to a key turn on the route. I pulled out the map and said confidently..."oh we take this trail here, it's so obvious. Let's go!" Apparently I said it confidently enough to convince everyone.... oops. As the 9 mile mark passed, we realized that while we should be done, we were not only not done... we were not even close to the turn off we needed to be close to being done. And that's when I put it together.... The trail we were on is a "newer" trail. The map that we had was an older map. So when I looked at the map, I thought, oh the trail to the farthest left is the one we need. I didn't realize that the map I was picturing in my head was the new map, the map I was looking at didn't have the new trail on it. Total fail.
We were far too deeply committed to the wrong trail to turn back, so we moved forward. I started to realize that for the first time I had zero food, zero cellphone, and a single map that didn't even have all the trails on it. Crap. I was feeling like a real dip and was SO ready to have this run be over. Thankfully, I was running with some of the best people I know. We had all just surrendered to the run and whatever it was going to be and kept moving forward.
We finally got to a point where we could hear our friends in the parking lot and start hooting and shouting like fools. My friend in the lead saw a cut through on our left and said, "you guys want to take a short cut?" The obvious answer was OH MY GOD YES, WE'VE BEEN TAKING LONG CUTS THIS ENTIRE RUN!!! The short cut had us running through a field of knee high grasses to get to the car and our friends that had been waiting for us. Finally back at the cars we had snacks and tick checks and laughed at what an adventure it all was.
My husband told me, "you weren't lost, you were just in the wrong place". I guess so. I think I was most grateful to have only added three miles rather than five and I was grateful to have been with my friends.

Next time... phone, snacks, and an understanding of when my map was made. Check.

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