The marathon run at Guadalupe Mountains National Park was hard. It was only four days after the run at Petrified Forest National Park. Unexpectedly, Guadalupe challenged me with the third most total elevation ascent of any park (6,080 feet) and several trails which just disappeared.
My original route started at the Pine Springs campground, and followed the Tejas Trail to the Marcus Trail. From there I would follow the Bush Mountain Trail back to the Tejas Trail, the Juniper Trail, Bear Canyon Trail, to the Frijole Trail and return to the campground. It was a nice loop which minimized overlap and was just a shade over 26.2 miles. Unfortunately, that is not what happened.
The route to the intersection with the Marcus Trail was tough climbing but clear. About a half mile into the Marcus Trail it just vanished. It shows on the GPS results but I couldn’t find it. Rather than get lost I went back and reconnected with the Bush Mountain Trail which, while longer, would connect me back to the Tejas Trail.
After about five or six miles that trail also disappeared, this time into the Chihuahuan desert. Once again the trail shows on the map in the GPS results but it was not obvious to me. I was spending a lot of time route finding and not a lot of time running.
At that point I had completed about 12 miles. I decided to turn around and go back. I felt better, not about the upcoming climb out of the canyon, but that I knew my way back to the car. Between my fatigue and the challenge of the terrain I didn’t want to run any extra if I could help it.
Overall, despite being a bit sluggish, I felt good on the trail. The terrain made me pay attention and be in the moment. That concept is very popular right now; being in the moment.
Even after seven months away from the big city and corporate life I often find myself fighting to focus on now. Sometimes when I’m running I’m thinking of taking photos, posting photos, editing photos, videos, writing and how I am “behind” with my blog. I still put a lot of pressure on myself to turn this project into something when I’m done; some sort of job, some sort of career. Should I even be doing that? Sometimes I ruminate on it so much that I fail to enjoy the project. Then I get mad at myself for failing to enjoy the project.
How do I stop the spiral? I try to be grateful. Cultivating the feeling takes work. I’m not the best at it but I am improving. When I get to spinning, I think about how grateful I am to have this opportunity. I am grateful for my education. I am grateful for my past employment which has allowed me the financial means to go on a trip like this. I am grateful for my supportive friends and family who don’t think I’m crazy. I’m grateful that we have these great National Parks set aside for our enjoyment. I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for many things big, small, those seemingly insignificant and those absolutely necessary. Usually a few minutes of focus brings me back around. You could call this a meditation if you want. I call it an admiration of life.
If you start to twist up just think about one thing you are grateful for. It could be a family member, the sky, your favorite tree, a warm breeze, the sacrifices of others for your benefit, your pet; it doesn’t matter. Just put that thought in your brain and focus for a few minutes. The feeling will grow. Other things you are grateful for will present themselves. It takes practice but as I have found, I think you too will realize how rich we are in life.