Part 1 of the 2021 adventure of The Run Trinidad: Miles are Miles Summer Challenge

What’s your spirit animal?

If you were to ask me this question, my honest answer would be... Winnie the Pooh.

Now, Winnie the Pooh is hardly the spirit animal one might think of for someone such as myself, who has been an avid runner for more than a decade.

Winnie the Pooh is a Pooh Bear. Pooh Bears aren’t fast runners. They are hardly runners at all.

But much like Winnie the Pooh, I’ve hardly felt like much of a runner at all this past year. I’ve been hibernating in my house during much of the pandemic, similar to how a Pooh Bear hibernates during the long winter months. I’ve felt slow and pokey, and my tummy has definitely gotten round and jiggly.

So yes, my spirit animal is Winnie the Pooh.

But you know, there are some advantages to being a Pooh Bear. Winnie the Pooh is a very happy bear. He has lots of friends. And he likes to go on adventures.

I would say that these traits are true for me, too.

I am feeling happy this spring, as the dark isolation of winter melts away in the sun’s warm rays. I’m enjoying meeting up with my old friends, as well as making new ones.

And I am itching to go on adventures.

So, what’s the perfect way to connect with friends, enjoy the great outdoors, and go on adventures, you ask? Why, signing up for the Run Trinidad: Miles are Miles Summer Challenge, of course.

The premise for the challenge is easy:

1) Sign up.

2) Set your summer fitness goals (which don’t have to include running - ANY ol’ summer fitness goals will do).

3) Share with your fellow Summer Challenge friends. Oh, and there’s opportunities for group activities, games, and fabulous prizes, but we won’t worry about that right now - that’s not part of my story.

What IS part of the story is this. I signed up for the Summer Challenge. And when I did so, I had to reflect... what are MY summer fitness goals?

One of them is this: I want to be a little less Pooh Bear, and a little more Rabbit. I want to get back in shape, so I’m more of a sprinter, and less of a slow-poker.

And my second fitness goal is this: To have an ADVENTURE this summer. Just like a Pooh Bear should.

So, my dear reader, you and I are going to have a GRAND adventure together this summer. Because I am going to run across western Las Animas County, in stages, between June and August. I am going to trek from the top of Cordova Pass to the top of Francisco Pass/County Road 85.5. Along the way, I am going to make my way through Gulnare, Ludlow and Hoehne.

And I shall take you with me, every breathtaking step of the way.

Toward this end, I will share with you today the first leg of my journey, which I completed on June 6. This 11-mile long section of my running adventure took me from the top of Cordova Pass down into Apishapa Canyon along County Road 46.

Before I started my journey, as I stood on the top of Cordova Pass, contemplating the many, many miles ahead of me on this adventure, I felt much like, well, a Pooh Bear out of its element. Do I have the stamina for such a pilgrimage? The skill? Enough rubber on the soles of my running shoes?

I decided to shoo away the butterflies dancing the cha-cha in my tummy, and started to slowly trot down the county road toward the Apishapa River that I could see far, far away in the valley below me. I may not be a fast runner these days, but I was fast enough to outpace the nervous butterflies as I began to lope along.

As I descended the mountain pass, I could see first the west Spanish Peak, and then the east, peaking at me through the tall pines and aspens. I was greeted by the sound of gurgling creeks sloshing with recent spring snowmelt, and acres of wildflowers.

As I trotted, I was careful not to trip over the plethora of rocks jutting out of the dirt road before me. I knew that the sharp edges of the rocks were itching to catch a toe or twist an ankle. And I know from experience that Pooh Bears don’t bounce when they trip and hit the ground!

So I jogged along slowly, intentionally picking my way safely through the boulders, enjoying the ever-changing views as I descended from the mountaintop toward the valley floor. And as I went, I realized that Pooh Bears don’t run to win races. Pooh Bears run for the same reason they do everything else they do — because it brings them joy.

And that’s what I felt, as I ran down the mountain — JOY. Joy at being alive on such a beautiful spring morning. Joy at the myriad of colors and sounds of nature that were on full display around me. Joy at being able to lumber my way down the canyon.

At the end of my eleven miles, I felt like a Pooh Bear should after running such a very long way — I was very, very hot. And very, very tired. I knew I would be very, very sore the next morning.

But I was also looking forward to continuing my adventure and bringing you, my friends, along with me for the ride.

The Run Trinidad: Miles are Miles Summer Challenge is a fun summer event designed to encourage fitness, outdoor recreation, and community from June-August of 2021. Participants of all fitness levels are encouraged to join for activities, games, prizes, and more. For additional information, visit the Run Trinidad Facebook page, or call Ruth at 719-845-7383. To register, visit Runsignup.com and search for the Run Trinidad: Miles are Miles Summer Challenge.

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