It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The weather was perfect. The timing was perfect. Perfect fall day for a long run. I love long runs. The open road, the solitude, the easy rhythm of your legs turning, turning, turning, mile after mile. Your body starts working on it's own, effortlessly, freeing up your mind to go to wonderful places it normally wouldn't. Long runs are beautiful. Usually. That particular Sunday.....
I was battling a few demons. I refer you to table 1:
All of them. I was all of them that day. At the same time.
I broke my bum. I will not elaborate. But I will tell you that this was not the first time I broke my bum.
I did not have a good long run. And there is a weeeeeee little teensy tiny possibility I may have mentioned this fact once or twice. During the run. After the run. Long after the run. And so he broke up with me.
That was two weeks ago. Water under the bridge. We're back together again. Happy wife = happy life.}
Today's run was on really challenging hills at Stratton. Lots and lots of hills. Up, up, up. Down, down, down. Hills. We've been on hills together before.
Maui, 1985. Just married (THE wedding of the 80's). On our honeymoon. Young, in love, adventurous. Let's do Haleakala. "Haleakala is one of two national parks in the Hawaiian Islands. Located on the southern section of the island of Maui, the park's 28,655 acres contain one of the most spectacular volcanic craters in the world as well as a beautiful section of the Maui coastline. Land in the park lies at altitudes from sea level along the coast to over 10,000 feet at the summit of the mountain, supporting a range of habitats from subalpine to subtropical rain forests. " Yes, let's do Haleakala. Not in cars driving up, looking at the amazing view, then driving back down like most people. Or even on bikes, driving up then riding back down on bikes like a handful of others we saw doing. No, let's go down Haleakala on horseback. Going down the inside. Sure! Sounds great!
We drive up to the top. Up. Up and up. But it is an easy climb up, a little curvy but relatively smooth and gentle. We reach the top We enjoy the view for a bit then go find our guide. A grizzled, old Hawaiian. He brings out two horses. Two plodding, old, graying mares. Well this is ok. A nice, old horse. I can't remember ever being on a horse before but I think this is going to be fine. I think I might even like this. I might be really good at it. I might discover I have a hidden horseback riding talent and start galloping off immediately, becoming one with the horse, my hair flying in the wind. I'll have to get jodhpurs. And cute riding boots. And eventually my own horse. Black. Like Black Beauty. She'll be beautiful. I'll ride her every day. Everyone will look at us and say, there's that girl with the cute jodhpurs riding that beautiful horse. I look at the horse in front of me now. She looks old and gentle and dependable. She has done this a thousand times before. This is a good start. She will get me ready for my Black Beauty. The grizzled old guide helps me get on her. I sit up in the saddle. She is still. Good horsey. Nice horsey. Mike gets on his horse. The guide gets on his horse. We start off.
I have never been inside a volcano before. It is beautiful. It is huge. It is open and wide and amazing. Ir's like a huge desert. And I am going down it on a horse. How cool is this?? We follow the guide along wide open trails. My horse is sure footed and gentle. Good horsey. Mike's horse is a little more frisky. She goes here and there and doesn't always go exactly where he wants her to. I'm glad I don't have his horse.
Down, down, down. Down gentle hills. We make steady progress. We ride and ride. I notice the landscape starting to change. The trails are starting to narrow. A lot. And now there are no longer desert-like sloping hills. There are cliffs. Sheer cliffs. Sheer cliffs down the volcano. And the trails are getting closer to these sheer cliffs. The trails are becoming so narrow we have to start riding single file. The guide, then me, then Mike. The guide way in front. Mike way behind on his meandering horse. Down the trail. Oh, did I mention the name of the trail? Sliding Sands Trail. A trail called sliding sands, right next to the cliffs. I start to sweat. From the heat. And the fear (sweet, innocent, young me has no idea that this is nothing compared to the buckets of sweat that will befall me twenty five years later. Again, I refer you to table one). I don't do well with heights. Until this point, being up so high didn't really feel so bad. We had been all together, out in the open, going down nice, wide open trails. Now we are single file. Next to a sheer drop down. My horse's hooves clomp, clomp along the trail. Clomp, clomp, clomp. Clomp, clomp, stop. Huh? Stop? Horsey, what are you doing? Why did you stop? She moves to the left. The left. The left is where the drop is. No, horsey, no. Go straight. Straight!! She steps to the left again. NO!!!! I pull on the reins. Nothing. I start to shake. She is so close to the edge. I can't breathe. She stops. Oh, thank god. Thank God. I am going to live. I breathe again. And then..... Horsey goes over to the edge. One hoof down the edge. Another hoof. Two hooves are over the edge. The only thing keeping me alive are two back hooves still on sliding sands trail. Horsey lowers her head down the cliff. She is reaching, reaching for something. Grass. She is reaching for a small clump of grass, a rarity in this arid landscape. What?? Horsey, you are about to toss me head first into the great abyss because you want a snack?? I am hanging on for dear life, my legs gripping desperately to her sides, leaning as far back as I can in the saddle. I am practically lying down. I crane my neck up and all I can see is a sheer drop down the volcano. This is how I am going to go? Tossed down a volcano by a hungry horse on my honeymoon? I panic. The guide is way in front of me now. I look back. Where is Mike?? His horse has gone off on another one of it's own adventures. Mike, you are about to lose your bride over the edge of Haleakala!! Help!! He rounds the corner, sees my peril, and yells for the guide. They are both at my side within two seconds. The guide talks some sort of animal speak to my horse. Mike talks some sort of newlywed speak to me. Horsey and I end up back on the trail. I. AM. ALIVE.
We spend hours in that volcano. Hours and hours. On horseback. My legs are killing me from the vise-like grip they have on my horse. My hands are raw from gripping the reins for dear life. Finally, finally we reach the bottom. Oh, thank you, sweet Jesus. We made it to the bottom. Alive. The guide jumps off his horse. Mike jumps off his horse. I jump off..... Nope. I can't move. I cannot move my legs. I cannot get off this horse. I am one with the horse all right. I have been one with my horse for hours now. Sitting in that saddle. Becoming one. The guide comes over. Mike comes over. Together they pry me off my horse. One leg down. The other leg down. I take a step. Pain, Oh, the pain. Pain. And that, dear 18 followers and 2 lurkers, was broken bum number one.
Today's run was on hills. At Stratton. With my running partner. And no horses.