I was feeling a bit of angst about turning 40 so I did what any smart educator would do. After celebrating the Big Day with my wife and three kids at home I took off with 30 sixteen year-olds for three days of camping in the Sawtooth Mountains. I figured that perhaps some of their youthful exuberance would rub off on me. Or, at least, I could get out of the office and into the mountains for a little while.
Of course, the purpose of my being on the trip was to chaperone the kids but the true joy came during the three runs I was able to squeeze in during the trip. For those of you who don’t know it should be said that the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho are seriously beautiful. The crisp air of late-September makes them even more so and the changing colors of the Aspen leaves make them downright breathtaking. So, in this context it was easy to see that I was going to get in some great running.
As luck would have it the kids were scheduled to go climbing on “the slabs” on the day after my 40th. Getting there for the kids and guides required a 10-mile boat ride followed by a 3-mile hike. I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to run there and back making it a clean 26-mile day (or approximately 40K in honor of the day!).
In short, I had one of those runs that made me feel like I was 20 rather than 40. Starting with a 1200-foot climb to the top of a ridge I enjoyed unencumbered views of Redfish Lake before plummeting down 1000 feet to the lakeshore. From there, it was into the wilderness area and three miles uphill to the climbing location. I hiked around the rocks and arrived in time to meet the kids at the top of their climb and after having lunch and hiking back to the boat dock together I got in the second part of my birthday run as the sun was setting over the Sawtooths.
Certainly, there are times when getting in the miles is a slog. Times when the heart and the mind are battling with the body to just do something else. Then, there are days when you feel like you can run forever. I had one of those days after turning 40. That must be a good thing.
So now, I am preparing for my first race as a “Master.” With admittedly weary legs from three 100 milers over the summer I am excitedly getting ready for the Javelina Jundred on my old training ground in Arizona. It’s funny, even after the summer I’ve had, I am now re-energized to get out to the track a couple times a week and to strap on the headlamp every morning at 5AM to get in the miles. I am not sure if this growing older thing is worth it but on this beautiful day in early October it certainly feels pretty OK. I’ll keep you posted.