The plan after I completed the 25K trail race at Big Hill Pond State Park in October was to more or less hang up my running shoes when I got home.  Add more strength training and an easy 3 mile walk, hike, jog a couple days a week.  The trails are very lonely where I run and I completely lost my desire to be alone for hours on end swatting bugs.  Living in the Upper Great Lakes region makes for some gorgeous summer weather but I rarely see another runner on the trails around here.

I had no idea that there was this huge and enthusiastic running community in the south. I was blown away by the trail running and road racing going on in the areas around Memphis.  If you live and run in that area then please, count your blessings the next time you head out on the trails with friends.  I’m jealous of the community you all have built and support regularly for running.  I wish I could build that here or at least get one other person to run trails.  My road running friends don’t like how the trails slow them down.  I’ve found many of them fear getting lost or encountering wildlife.  I’ve had both happen and I’m still alive, though!

I came back from the race with a glow about trail running again.  One I haven’t had in years.  Maybe never.  I didn’t feel so lost and without drive because there are groups of other runners out there that share my trail running spirit.  What I realized is I am fully capable of traveling to a race and meeting up with other runners once or twice a year from the LHRL group of runners and soak in all the camaraderie and trail spirit I can in a 3-5 day weekend.  Maybe it seems crazy to someone living around Memphis that I’d travel long distances to run with friends I may only see once or twice a year but I can’t think of a better way to see like-minded people, soak in some great trail miles, share some laughs, and have the luxury of seeing a new part of the country.

So, I’ll build my travel budget and vacation plans in 2019 to include a trip back to run the Walking Tall 25K again and probably find another race to join.  I had been struggling to find the motivation to lose weight and be able to run the way I used to and enjoy the miles more.  I seem to have found all that with the friends and community of trail runners at the LHRL Facebook group.  New friends, new goals, renewed spirit.  And a new love for cheesy grits so I need to keep running.