Call of the Wild

11 Dec

I’m moving back to Minnesota. I really hope my wife and kids come with me. I kinda like them. Plus we are having a baby in January and I really want it to know its father. BUT…

When a man falls in love with a trail, all other loves become secondary.

It’s a deep and forgotten love—this love of the woods and trails. This post may get a bit mushy; it may in fact break out into sonnets. No limericks though, I promise (or apologize, depending upon your personality).

I say this now before I’ve written the rest of this post: This will be one of the best pieces I’ve written because it comes from my deep heart. Want to be inspired? Stick around.

The Trail Runner Reborn

I’ve been pretty happy with my running for some time now. I’ve figured out when to push it, when to back off, when to mix up the tempo, etc… I run on the treadmill during the week and through beautiful farm country roads on the weekend.

Then I gone done did something to screw it all up.

I went for a run on some fun single track with some runners from the Green Bay Running Club. It was short, technical section, but it’s whetted my appetite for trails. Since then I’ve gone in search of side trails wherever I roam. It’s like a disease and the only cure is more cow trails. (bad joke I know)

Then I hit the mother lode: Murphy-Hanrehan park reserve in Savage, MN. For 12 glorious miles I twisted and turned and climbed and jumped on a rutty, rocky single track that took claim of my heart for good. I remembered (for perhaps the first time ever) who I really am. Some memories seem to be echoes of a past self, or brief flashes of future glory; they transcend time.

An Adventure for the Ages

I’m not leaving my family. We have this silly habit of assigning priorities in our life. If we just kept things in their proper balance, the way they were meant to be, we wouldn’t need to do that. On that day that God makes it clear to me that it’s time to stop running I will obey that call.

For the here and now though, I feel myself called deeper into this running adventure. It’s a piece of my identity. Certainly the role of father and husband goes ever deeper, but I was also made to run. I’ve known that for some time. Now I know something more.

I was meant to run trails.


103 Miles far.

Labor day weekend of 2013 will see me in the running paradise that is the North shore of Lake Superior. The Superior 100 is a point-to-point race along the world-renowned Superior Hiking Trail from Gooseberry Falls to Lutsen, Minnesota.

Coming Home

I went to college at the University of Minnesota Duluth. That place is still paradise to my mind. God may have punted us from the Garden, but in his mercy he left us the north shore of Lake Superior.

Great lake of dark beauty,
The only mirror vast enough
to reflect the expanse of my soul;
Forgotten desire sprawled across your waters.

Cold, severe and yet you
embrace me
With the deep silence
my heart needs.

I return again to your waters.
Again unite with your ancient shores
And find my youth again
On that glorious day my course is run.

I know that wasn’t a sonnet. I was an English major at UMD… before I failed-out that is, so maybe I didn’t know that wasn’t a sonnet. ☺

Wolf, Water, Caribou

I’m going to share something fairly personal here, so no laughing. (‘cause if you do Santa won’t give you any presents. We’re tight, me and the big red man.)

Okay, here goes: I have mantras when I’m out on trail runs. When I’m going down hill I think, “water.” I feel like it helps me to remember to be fluid and not jarring—to let gravity just pull me down as I let my feet flow over the trail.

When I’m on a climb of decent magnitude I think, “caribou.” This one is less obvious in its implications. A long while back I watched a video of a herd of caribou not climbing, but FLYING up a hill Canada. Ever since then I’ve thought about how that’s how I want to approach hills. Not grinding, but flying.

The last is the one that is the most personal. If I had a spirit animal I think it would be a timber wolf. When I really get into a trail run (which is most trail runs) I sometimes pretend that I am a wolf bearing down and floating ghostlike over the terrain. So when there’s a particularly engaging section of single-track I often think, “wolf” and really start to turn on the after-burners.

Am I the only one who does this? If so I guess I’m okay with that, I’m just curious. Maybe try it next time you’re out on the trails. Let me know what your spirit animal is. ☺

Well there you have it. I think I’ve given y’all enough to wonder at and ridicule for one post. Till next time, I’ll see you on the trails. I promise not to hunt you down and bite your jugular. I don’t get THAT into my runs.

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