Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Community and a Toolbox

I'm headed off to bed, but I wanted to get a quick post off, because a couple of things (good things) have been in the back of my mind and I've wanted to push them to the fore front, because they are important.

As we head into "race season" it occurs to me, yet again, what an amazing trail-running community we have here in Salt Lake City and along the Wasatch Front.  I'm a new member of a running club that is based in Ogden but has a few Salt Lakers ~ it's a small club, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this group.  It's so important to me to find running friends that have similar values to mine:  running for the love of it, enjoying trails and lovely mountains, and often partaking in a little bit of debauchery.  We are truly "Happy Utah Mountain Runners", even when the trail is strewn with bugs (midges:  thousands if not millions of them... ) we smile and laugh and build memories on the experience.

Another example:  I'm on the race committee for the Speedgoat 50k, a trail event up at Snowbird, Utah.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I think of not only the race committee (and race director, in particular) but also the 80+ volunteers who will come together to support over 400 racers this year.  The event has grown over the last seven years from a small-time local event to a big-time internationally known one.  And the local trail-running community comes together to make it happen.  I pretty much get chills just thinking about this amazing assembly of people.

And yet, with all of these people, thousands of them, I still really revel in my solitary trail runs.  Well, not quite solitary, but many times in the company of my two dogs, Franklin and Artemis.  Two aging Golden Retrievers who still, somehow seem to manage to put together 20-30 miles per week on the trails and in the neighborhood with me.  I know people recognize us.  I smile and nod and sometimes wave as I pass other runners.  We are a cute pack, the three of us, and I treasure every mile with my dogs.

And as I talk about how wonderful things are:  how supportive our trail-running community is, I think of a few certain people who are not able to log the miles that they want to right now.  After reading a friend's post in The Injured Athlete's Toolbox, it's so easy to think of ourselves and our plans and our healthy, happy trail-running groups and forget to check in with others who might not be doing so well.  Some who might be nursing little injuries that might go away in a week or two; and others who will be on a lengthier path to recovery.

After reading the blogpost, the content hit me really deep.  I wish I had had a resource like this when I was injured, recovering from knee surgery in 2007.  I do know what it's like to be injured.  I know what it's like to have everyone talking about their favorite run (or ski, or bike) and feel so frustrated that you can't do the things that seem so easy when you are healthy.

I know I'm not supposed to compare, but I think of my own injuries, especially the more significant ones and how easy it is to feel alone and a little bit (or a lot) down, depending on the situation or how much support you have or what blessed distractions you might have to keep your mind off of your injury for a little bit.  As an injured athlete, you might feel like you will never be able to log the miles again that you want to or that you once did.  It's important to have perspective and not get too mired down in the negativity of an injury, but who doesn't do this?  Being injured is tough.  And to this, I say:  love an injured friend today.  Take the Injured Athlete's advice and don't talk about your race plans or how well you did at that last event.  Talk to the injured friend and offer them friendship that has nothing to do with running (or their activity of choice).

We are blessed to be healthy and together on this Earth (well, and it is Earth Day after all).  As I think of how fortunate I am to be me and living this life of mine, I like to think of my friends and what it might be like to be living that life of theirs.  I'm so fortunate to have the friends that I do.  They help to keep me grounded and maintain perspective.

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