Last year I went through one of the most emotionally disruptive events of my life – divorce after 18 years of marriage. At my lowest point I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t walk through the grocery store without bursting into tears. And the glass of wine I looked forward to each evening began to push me further into the dark place. At some point I managed to pry myself away from the tissue box, lace up my running shoes and head to the trail.
I couldn’t tell you how far I ran that day. I had so many thoughts flooding through my system that I didn’t even listen to the podcasts or spotify playlists I had queued up. I just ran, and when I was done it felt like a little light was finally creeping in. Sadness was quite suddenly replaced with overwhelming happiness.
The feeling reminded me of the old indian story of the two wolves. It goes like this:
After that trail run I made a conscious effort to start feeding the good wolf. I pushed aside alcohol. I cooked really healthy meals for myself. I stopped listening to sad breakup songs. (I’m looking at you Patty Griffin.) And I started thinking about how I could get more time on the trail, because every mile in nature was bringing me back to life.
That’s when TransRockies Run landed on my radar. I went to an info meeting at the Shoes & Brews weekly run and immediately signed up to volunteer at the event to see what it was all about, and to watch Mirna Valerio‘s second attempt at the 6-day 120-mile trail running event (spoiler alert – she crushed it). I cut watermelon and made PB&Js for 3 days while I watched finishers of all ages cross the line with emotions on full display. Then they stood around the watermelon table trading stories of the beautiful views and amazing day they had with NO COMPLAINTS WHATSOEVER (even after day 6). What IS this?! I wanted what they had.
So I went all in and signed up for the full 6-day event, which kicks off August 13th, just ONE MONTH from today. Holy. Crap. I’m doing this thing! My biggest fear (aside from sleeping in a tent for 5 nights, needing to pee in the middle of the night and possibly encountering a bear) has been the high mileage back-to-back-to-back runs on the training plan.
But with each long day on the trail I continue to find more peace and fall more in love with the shape of my new life. I’ve run trails I didn’t even know existed, seen the most amazing views and met the most interesting people (and animals) along the way.
Is this how I thought things would shake out 18 years ago? Absolutely not. But hanging on to anger and sadness wasn’t the answer. I don’t know how many trips around the sun I’m going to get. I want to see more trails and meet more people and have more adventures. I thought divorce was the end. But it turned out to be a brand new starting line. And I intend to crush it.
Jen Allen is the ‘Creative Skirt’ at Skirt Sports. Follow along with her TransRockies Run training and life on the trails on instagram at @jenlovestrails.com.