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Running the longest trail of my life

Following Chris Guillebeau’s footsteps, I’ll be sitting down in a couple weeks for a few days and going over what I accomplished this year and plan out what I want to do next year. I sort of did this without really thinking about it last year and it worked wonders. Actually formalizing the process and focusing even more on a plan of attack for my goals will help me achieve them even faster.One of my goals for this year and next is to write as much as possible. It is a long and arduous journey to become an accomplished writer, one that I’ve only just begun, and one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten so far is to write every day. I was having trouble doing this but someone recommended 750words (I think Jonathan Fields). Now I’m writing almost every day in that sweet little app.To top things off for the year I found mention of Reverb10 while I was perusing RowdyKittens.

Reverb10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next.

I never really liked to be told what to do but a little nudge in the right direction never hurt. Now I’m writing every day in December with a ton of other writers also doing Reverb. I had to play catch-up today so this is my first blog post about the prompts. I’m still not sure I will post about every one. You’ll just have to wait and see!Reverb is all about getting a prompt every day and writing about how it relates to you over the last year. Todays was, “Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).”  Ali Edwards put this one together.I did a lot of new things this year and most of them were incredibly fun but the one that brought out the most life was running the 47 kilometer long Juan De Fuca trail in August.My running buddy and I decided last year that it would be fun to run it. We had done a few half marathons and decided it was time to up our game. The half marathons we had been doing were not your average flat half marathons in the city. Nope. They were grueling trail runs through the mountains that made you want to puke. Even still, the longest one we had done up to that point was 23 kilometers. Funny, now that I think of it, that distance doesn’t register any more as a long run even though most people will never run it in their lives. I highly recommend doing it!After doing some reading and talking to friends I was aiming for a total time of about 10 hours for this run. The short version that we were up at 2:30 in the morning. We were driving at 3 am. By 5:30 am we were running down the trail towards the beach with our headlamps on.The run was not without incident. Just entering the woods off the beach we were packing back some electrolyte candies and all of a sudden strings of curses fill the air. We had slowed down right next to a wasps nest and one was testing out it’s stinger on my buddy. Later on down the trail, just as I was thinking about how good the run was going, I got stung. Infernal little creatures. I would be happy if they went extinct. Aside from those minor mishaps the run went well.Apparently we were faster than I had anticipated. 7 and a half hours later, after 47 kilometers of running and almost 3000 meters in elevation gain and loss, we ran (ahem, stumbled) around the sign at the end and onto the beach where our support crew was waiting with sweet, delicious refreshments. The first few sips were salted with the sweat that still dripped from my soaked skin. The harder you work, the better the beer tastes. This one tasted pretty damn good.The surf was lapping on the beach. The smell of salt in the air from the sea and my soaked clothes. The dirt on my shoes was already drying and falling off. We had run through a few puddles but thankfully the trail was mostly clear and dry. We had made it. It was time to relax.I’ve done a lot of hikes and runs over the past few years. I’ve played lots soccer, rugby, ultimate and volleyball. But never have I been so excited, satisfied, relieved and happy all at once after doing any of them compared to what I felt after finishing this run.My first thought was just that we were done. We had finished what we had set out to do and I was happy with that. I was relieved to not have to climb another blasted hill with my legs that, by the end of it, were hardly working. Letting it sink in though, I came to realize that we had just done something that few people on earth ever get to do. Something that few people can do. Some people run a marathon but few ever go past that distance, but we had just run something longer than a marathon plus about 1500 meters in elevation gain. That’s like running a marathon over a mountain.I realized something so important that day. It became crystal clear that even though that was probably the hardest thing I’ve done yet in my life, it was also one of the most amazing and something I’m not likely to forget any time soon. It showed me that by being patient and taking a lot of small steps, you will eventually cover a huge distance and reach whatever goal you set for yourself.The only problem is the next challenge has to be bigger. We’re already training up to run the 75 kilometer long West Coast Trail next summer.(P.S. You can grab a few more details about the Juan De Fuca run on Island Adventurer)***I’ve been writing with the Reverb10 Crew since the beginning of December. I haven’t published everything I’ve written but there are a few good ones. See my Reverb10 posts.These last few weeks of 2010 will be dedicated to reviewing what I did in 2010 and what’s next in 2011. See all the review posts here.***