Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coming Home

So many memories along this trail
For as long as I can remember I have loved the fall. It's a time of year filled with good memories. Five of our seven children were born in the fall. Chanda and I fell in love in the fall. In recent years, when summers have been difficult & stressful, fall signified a turning point in our lives. And some of my best running memories happened on a section of trail very close to our old home in the fall.

As the weather started to turn cool last week I felt that old section of trail calling me back. It had been my favorite training spot for years but with moving and parenting and work and training for a trail marathon I simply had not visited our old trail in almost a year. Several times I have driven by it recently and had to resist the urge to stop just to stand in the middle of it for a minute. But this afternoon I had a little time so I decided to answer the call and visit our old friend once again.

As I started running down the trail I couldn't help but reminisce.

This was the trail that Chanda learned to love running on. Nearly two years later, I fell in love with running on the very same trail. Our three oldest children all ran their first mile on this trail and it was here that at five years old our oldest ran three consecutive miles and asked when she can sign up for a 5K.

Here we have battled injury, nursed wounds and beat our bodies into submission. In times of anger, hurt and frustration we have come here to run as hard and fast and long as we could, taking solace in aching lungs and burning legs. In times of sorrow we have found peace and solitude along this trail. And more than once I have wrestled with God here.

This trail is a place of memories.

I passed places where I had stopped countless times to pick up bottles or refill snacks as I pulled the kids in a wagon or pushed them in a stroller. I ran past the trail head where we would start hiking on warm winter afternoons pulling a wagon through the melting snow with toddlers in their winter coats, under a pile of blankets, sipping hot chocolate. I passed the place where I collapsed on the side of the trail during a hard workout on a hot day, too tired to run any further. I paused for a minute at the trail head where I met Chanda and tried to comfort her as she told me through tears that the pain in her knee was too bad to run. And I jumped over a snake crossing the path in the same place I had dozens of times before.

As I ran the eight miles out and back I must have recounted hundreds of memories. There are more memories on this trail than I could fit into a single post. But as I finished up my run, the thing that hit me the hardest, the thing that I had somehow missed before was that this trail is home. In many ways  my family and I have grown up here. It has been a constant in our ever changing world and we have been through a lot here. I know that it might not make a lot of sense to some, but running this trail today truly was like coming home.