I’m greedy.  There, I said it.  I feel better.

But not about money (OK… so I do admit to being an Amereekan kapitaleest peeg… but that’s a different kind of greedy).  No, you only understand this greed if you are an athlete.

What I love.  What I covet more than anything else…  Is having it all… to myself.

Not permanently, mind you… just for a little while.

Do you KNOW how quiet the woods are when you are running completely alone?  Do you KNOW how smooth the water is when you are the only one in the pool or the first one at the lake in the morning?  Or riding a mountain bike 15 miles and not seeing a soul?

Yeah… that.

Let’s take today for instance.  After fighting elbows and assholes in the pool for the first 15 minutes of my set and never feeling settled, I completed 2100 hard fought yards before work.  I got the workout in. But that was all.  Nothing to be proud of.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Photo credit: Dakota Kingfisher)

Now fast forward about 6 hours.  It’s cold, ish.  About 34 degrees.  And lightly doing something between snowing and hailing.  I am at Ha Ha Tonka State park.  A spectacular series of trails just south of Camdenton, MO.  Built on bluffs, hills, cliffs and ravines, it is a series of well maintained trails and boardwalks that take you to some really amazing places.  Not only am I the only one at the trailhead.  I’m the only one… in. the. park.

For the next hour and a half I ran completely alone.  And as much as I love running with friends and being with people, these rare occasions of complete solitude are absolutely priceless to me.  It makes me giddy.  I keep expecting a ranger to come out of the woods and tell me the park is closed or something.  I feel like I’m stealing or cheating.  Like it’s all mine.  Like I got something today NOBODY else got.  I got Ha Ha Tonka all to myself.  I win.

I don’t seek out these times and try to PLAN so that I am alone.  In fact I prefer company most of the time.  But when they come to me I remember every one of them.

Endurance sports are an interesting juxtaposition.  They are very much individual sports, but they are very social in nature.  Triathletes tend to travel in herds, to and from events and sometimes even through them.  So, as I’m finding out, do trail runners and mountain bikers.  I think it’s healthy to have a mix of group and individual training though because when you get to the event you are on your own.  Some would say that what I did today was dangerous.  If I had gotten hurt, I was pretty much screwed.  It would have been either get back or die trying.  But that’s the way races are, isn’t it?  It’s all on you.  I think the independence of solo exercise breeds a confidence every endurance athlete needs.

And besides, I love feeling like the park or the lake or the road is all mine…  See?  Greedy.



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