Down the Mountain

Everyone has a “thing”. Some people like to fix up old cars, pursue the perfectly brewed cup of coffee (ahem), or watch documentaries. My mom likes to trail run. She’s completed an untold number of 50Ks, a sizable amount of 50 milers, and a handful of 100 milers. I don’t know how it became her “thing”. Years ago she, like Forrest Gump, started running and just kept on going.

In 2012, she roped the whole family into doing a 50 miler in the Headlands of California. By the whole family, I mean my mom, dad, brother, sister, brother-in-law, brother-in-law’s twin brother, and me. It took us 12 hours, 34 minutes, and 56 seconds, but we did it. It was one of the most memorable moments of my entire life.

After completing a marathon, a 50k, and then a 50 miler, I decided to retire at the top of my game. There could be some more big runs in my future, but I think I’ll stick to hiking for the near future. It’s a bit more speed. That doesn’t mean I don’t run occasionally, though. When I do, I feel like my mom is with me.

One such moment was the last part of my trek to Machu Picchu. After five days of walking (about 50 miles in total), we had made it to the entrance. I spent the day exploring the site, soaking it all in. On the way down, my legs started moving a bit faster and I found myself running down the mountain that I had labored up hours before. I fell into a smooth rhythm, leaping from stair to stair, rock to rock. After five days of trekking, the change in pace felt good.

My mom was with me in that moment, moving carefully right next to me. Together, we closed out the magnificent five days by gliding down that mountain. During the descent, I found myself in a state of immense bliss and peace. As I crossed a bridge and waited for a friend to catch up, I could only smile. Distance really does feel like an illusion sometimes.