20,000 Steps

Five, four, three, two, one. It’s go time. The crowd surges forward. Muscles twitch, soles collide with earth. One step down, 20,000 to go.

Brian and Jamie at the finish line of the 2022 Salt Fork Half-Marathon Trail Race.

This 25-word story was inspired by completing my first half-marathon trail race with my husband on April 23, 2022, at Salt Fork State Park. Here’s a photo of us drenched in sweat at the finish line. We could barely walk but we were high on adrenaline and pride.

I hated running for most of my life despite the fact that I played soccer from the time I was a toddler until I was a junior in high school. As I get older, I’m facing the reality that my body has an expiration date but it can be extended if I’m proactive about preserving my health. The stakes are higher than they used to be when vanity and competition were the driving forces behind my exercise habits as an adolescent. I’m a wife and a mother now and I’m determined to make sure that my family is stuck with me for as long as possible.

Trail running has also become an escape and a release — A temporary escape into nature and away from the daily pressure of life. A release of stress, worry, and anxiety. When my feet are pounding the trail, external stressors melt away and I’m forced to focus inward on self-talk, breathing, pace, and heart rate.

Trail running has enabled me to channel my energy into something physical and process the mental and emotional load of life. It has empowered me and given me the confidence to tackle hard things both on and off the trail.

Another half-marathon trail race will be on my calendar in 2023 and the training has already begun.

Want to brighten my day? Leave a comment below to share your feedback on this story!

Copyright © Jamie Gregory 2023


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