Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"My" Mountain

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I have been told that I run in my sleep. Literally, my feet never stop moving. It explains why I’ve always gravitated to tap dancing, swimming, cycling, and most of all… running.

I began running when I was a little kid. My neighbor saw me playing basketball on roller skates and must’ve realized that I would need a more conventional outlet. He had two daughters of his own, but both were too young mentor. I became the luckiest girl in the world when he took ME on. I think I was 11 or 12. I’d come home from school in 5th grade after running the mile faster than anyone in my class. He took it as a good time to teach me form and the necessity of breathing. He would ride his bicycle next to me for miles and miles and literally, taught me how to run.

From that time, I’ve been a runner (not a GOOD runner, but a runner none the less).

A million years later… a very dear friend invited me to climb a mountain. Mostly un-daunted by anything, I agreed. Not really understanding what I was getting into.

We climbed with his “team”… a group of adventure racers (i.e., crazy people who race for days on end with no sleep, little food, and a lot of no-doze). When I say we “climbed” a mountain, I don’t mean with ropes and harnesses, I mean… like a hike… but not… because they made me RUN up the mountain! RUN! The man put poles in my hands, strapped a camelback to me… and POOF! He was GONE! “You can’t get lost … follow the trail!”

Allrighty then… Headphones in, trail ahead… “There is a top to this mountain.” Move. And so I did. Music, accompanied by the smell of sagebrush, accompanied by the most amazing fresh air, accompanied by the strength in the pistons (legs) I’ve been blessed with, accompanied by a bit of competition, accompanied by the magnitude of the mountain granted me the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

Peace.

I fell in love with the mountain that day. And since then, I have proudly (and arguably) called her “my" mountain. San Antonio is her name, but she goes by Baldy. I have climbed her countless times since… mostly alone – but occasionally find myself a partner.

She has become my sanctuary… Always - a place to find serenity, strength, or simply, solid ground. Weekend after weekend, I run to her… and despite her moodiness in the winter, she always manages to send me away feeling enlightened.

I’m happy to report that other mountains return the same results – and although my loyalty is always with Baldy, my sense of adventure can't help but send me exploring.

However, never in my life did I think I would climb mountains in Africa. It’s beyond what I could have even dreamed…

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