The year of 44

Today marks another milestone of another year around the sun. Today I turn 44. When you’re a kid you (for some reason) decide that you need a favorite number, to go along with your favorite color. I don’t remember why, but I chose 44. I’ve used ’44’ many times in online handles or game personas, and in general I smile when I see the number. Now that 44 is my age, I feel compelled to make this year significant.

I started out the day on a high point. I had to do a 24 mile run this week for my training plan, and so I decided to shift my schedule and take Friday off of work and do it for my birthday. I put up a quick event in my running group and sure enough I had a handful of people join me for the early morning start. In fact, my friend Wendi came out and stuck with me for the full distance, despite never wanting to get up before 9am to run.

IMG_2344.jpgWe started out nice and early, with the plan to do 3 full horse trail loops, adding in a little extra where we could to make them close to 8 miles each. The first loop flew by, and I nailed my scheduled itinerary on the nose. For my second loop my friend Tim M. came out to join us. Despite being much, MUCH, faster than me, he stuck with Wendi and I and we once again nailed a solid 1:40:00 loop. This was once again exactly where I said I would be, and I was pleased. About mile 20 my friend Mark met up with us and we continued on our way. At mile 21, everything fell apart.

IMG_2343.jpgRight now, because of all of the melt and re-freeze, there is a LOT of ice on the horse trails. Until the ground softens more it doesn’t have many places to go, and so it ends up turning into a crunchy, uneven mess, or glare ice. I had slipped a bit at one point, but wasn’t too bad. However, at mile 21 I stepped the wrong direction, to avoid a different patch of ice, and planted my foot on a mound of perfectly clear glare ice. Next thing I knew my right butt-cheek was smacking hard into the ground. I rolled over and winced in pain.

I got up slowly, my hands slightly scarred from trying to catch myself, and I knew I had jammed my back really good. It cause enough of an impact on my body that for a few moments my ears were ringing. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean a concussion, but for sure I know my back is going to be very sore for a couple days. I got up and we kept moving. I tried running a couple steps and knew that it was all done. The final miles would all have to be walking.

The amazing thing is, my friends are amazing. I told them to feel free and go on without me, but they stuck with me. When we met up with Andy a mile from the finish, he also joined in and we formed a walking pack for the final stretch. I had originally planned on finishing out the leftover portion of the 24 miles when we got back to the parking lot, but at that point I was done. I stopped my watch at 23.58 miles and called it a day. That was close enough, considering I was in a lot of pain.

IMG_2348.jpgWendi then went to her car and pulled out a yummy cake, and we pulled some beers from the trunk of our cars and enjoyed a mid-day birthday snack. Getting to spend time with amazing people like this, who are willing to stick with you after things go wrong, is a true testament to how caring trail people can be. We enjoyed out snack and then headed out our separate ways.

I made a couple stops on the way home for food and such, and then made my way to my house for a shower and recovery. Once I was cleaned up I eventually took a nap to try and recover some more. Rest felt good, and I’m hoping that rest is all my back needs, so that I can get back at it. Once I woke up it was nearing the time for my wife to get home and go to dinner. Both of my kids have been recovering from being sick, so we postponed the big family dinner till Monday, and Lisa and I just headed to a fast-casual place for burgers.

IMG_2350.jpgAnd now it’s time for me to sit, relax, drink more beer, and reflect on the day, and the year to come. I feel like there are going to be some changes this year. I don’t know exactly what they will be, but it’s starting to feel like things are coming together. Maybe a job change, or perhaps some new adventures in places we hadn’t planned. My running might really stick this year and I’ll run some events that I’ve only dreamed of. I feel like the options are open, and for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling hopeful.

Maybe it’s just the beer, but perhaps I can make this hopeful feeling last a bit. My life is only half over, so there’s plenty of time for new adventures, and new experiences with the people I love. Bring it on 44. I’m ready.

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