I Am Not Afraid

I am a trail runner.  Before I even knew there was a name for it, I was a trail runner.  The first time I can remember running on a trail I was eight years old.  My family had moved out of the city into a trailer park in the country.  Other kids would roller skate or ride their bikes around the circle of trailers that was our neighborhood.  But not me.  Circles were not for me.  The minute I saw the trail leading between two trailers into the woods and heard that it lead to an abandoned railroad track and had trails leading off of it into the woods I abandoned my bike and headed into the woods.  I remember the other kids warning me about the Maco Ghost and the hermit who lived in the woods.  But I wasn’t scared.  Somehow I knew I belonged there, running on those trails.  I went every chance I was given.  I tried to talk my friends into joining me.  I found new trails with every run.  Some were clear others were not.  I would come home pouring sweat, legs covered in blood from the blackberry brambles but I didn’t care.  I had found a home.  A place I belonged.

Today, thirty two years later, I still love the trails.  I can’t resist them.  I hunt them out.  I am a trail runner even though the warnings are still there.

“Aren’t you afraid?”

“Don’t you worry about being attacked?”

“Didn’t you see the sign about copperheads?”

“What if you fall and break a leg?”

I laugh and explain that no, I am not afraid.  I have a better chance of wrecking my car on the way to the trail than being hurt on them.

As I have gotten older I have learned to take more precautions. I always carry a cell phone.  I go at times when I know a trail is going to be most populated and I let my husband know where I am going to be.  But I am not scared.

In a strange way I think this fearlessness was a gift from my mother.  Way back then, when I first became a trail runner I was scared.  Not of the hermit who lived in the woods or the ghost we all claimed to have seen but of my mother.  I was scared every moment of every day, until the day I found those trails.  On those trails I found a peace I had never known.  I ran into those woods to escape a life of fear.  I was running away but I was also running to something.  I was running to the athlete I would become.  I was running to the beauty life has to offer.  I was running to a world of comfort I didn’t have at home.

I run on the trails now for different reasons.  I run to let go of the stress of parenthood or to feel my body responding to the ups and downs of the ground.  I run to feel my heart beating faster and the burn in my legs.  Often, I run just to see what is down a particular trail.  Will there be a stream, or a railroad track or a dilapidated house beside a manmade pond?  But I never run without a sense of gratitude for the trail and where it has lead me or the gifts of peace it has given me.  I am a trail runner and I am not afraid.  I am a trail runner and I always will be.

Previously published in Trail Runner Magazine’s eNewsletter, Inside Dirt May 2009

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8 Comments

Filed under Running, Uncategorized

8 responses to “I Am Not Afraid

  1. Great article! I can completely relate – except I think I’m a bit more of a fraidy-cat than you, I feel like I’m constantly looking over my shoulder – dislodging my earphone! But, like you, I cannot run on roads – or if I do, I can’t wait to get back to the forest. Hopefully we might be able to for a trail run together sometime!!!

    • annieb123

      I understand the looking over my shoulder thing but I don’t wear headphones in the woods so I am more aware of what is around me. I didn’t put this in the article but I also carry a big rock while I run so that I have at least a chance to give someone a good whack if they jump out at me. I would so love to get to NZ sometime. It is on my list of fantasy places to race. Maybe someday when the kids are bigger. Thank you so much for following me and reading what I write. I means a lot to me. This writing thing is so much harder than I thought it would be. I can get the articles out there but getting them into the magazines is a lot of work. It helps to know people do like what I write when I am receiving rejection letters saying the magazines can’t use them. Take care and let me know how the training is going.

  2. I ran my very first trail tonight. It was great. I felt so much stronger than I ever have on the treadmill or on the road. But I did start to get a bit freaked out as the sun started to set. I definitely ran the end faster than I would have had I not been afraid of the Boogeyman.

    • annieb123

      Country-Fried Mama, Most of the time I am not afraid. But every once in a while something like that will happen, the sun goes down faster than I thought, a deer pops out and scared the bejeebers out of me. But the pure joy of running through the woods usually makes up for it. I am glad you had a good run though.

  3. polynesian69

    Thumbs up!

  4. Pingback: singlemominthecity.ca | Running For My Kids: The Right Decision

  5. Great post.

    On the whole, trail running is far safer than the road. But yes, sometimes your heart skips a beat…

    http://zerotoboston.com/2008/04/07/eight-lives-left/

    – Dean

    • annieb123

      Let me know if you would like to share links on our blogs. I don’t add many but I do add the ones I like. Yours is right up my alley. Also, you should know I use mine as a portfolio when I send things to publications. Did you find me through Trail Runner Magazine?

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