Poetry, Music, Forests, Oceans, Solitude -They were what developed enormous spiritual strength.  I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race. -Herb Elliot, Olympic Champion & World Record Holder in the Mile, who trained in bare feet, wrote poetry, and retired undefeated. 

One of the reasons I have always run is to achieve a sense of peacefulness and solitude within my mind.  Our lives are filled with hustle and bustle and ‘things to do’, and, without outlets, such as running, solitude can soon be nonexistent. I can remember being deep in the throws of nursing school in Boston.  I had countless hours of studying and clinical, and, after navigating Boston traffic or the “T”, little patience for much else.  However, one thing I knew for sure, was that in order for me to be successful in school, I had to first take care of myself. Of course, I did not have enough time (usually) to drive up to some fun trail in the woods, but, instead, I embraced the city greenery along The Charles, in and around The Boston Common, and, The Minuteman Trail.  I found that even a 40 minute run would change my perspective on my day, give me energy, and, focus me to get my work done more effectively.

This summer, while running the Long Trail, I have had to learn how to take time off in order to rest so that my running can be sustained for the entire 272 miles. Now, with approximately 190 miles complete, I have a few minor bruises and scrapes, sore feet, and a huge smile.  Just yesterday, while we did not get onto the trail until later than expected, finished w/a headlamp, and quite literally fell into the car, we had a blast.

The section completed yesterday between Appalachian Gap and Camel’s Hump is extremely technical, full of elevation gain and descent, and, drawn together with panoramic views of the Vermont countryside -from Lake Champlain to Mt. Mansfield and beyond.  I was exhausted, as was my running partner, Brian.  We both have worked, and been on the trail, a lot lately, and, it was late.  At one point, as we climbed a rocky mammoth of what appeared to be a staircase to the sky, he asked me “Hey, how you holding up?”  Without thinking, I answered “Mind over Matter.”

 I guess that is just where the strength must come from sometimes.  You can use gels, energy bars, train your tail off, but, sometimes, or, I would argue, most times, it is the training of the mind that is what will get you through.  


Peaks and Valleys

The Green Mountains are the backbone of Vermont.  Tall evergreens, a variety of hardwoods and softwoods, lush underbrush, and mosses, transform the landscape, dressing the spine with a myriad of fierce and dense foliage.  Deep jade and harlequin colors permeate the forest as the summer heat also propagates fat and juicy blackberry and button top raspberries.   

The crickets continue to sing while the butterflies search out the many wildflowers whose colors seem to explode across the green like a Jackson Pollack painting.  The forest feels alive and powerful.  The air is filled with sweet  scents of honeysuckle and dew-laden grasses.  Black-eyed Susan’s and Echinacea litter the landscape.  Buttercups and clover line the many twists and turns of what is known of as The Long Trail.

The Long Trail, which traces the path of The Green Mountains, is laced together by numerous peaks and the valleys that connect them.  It runs through both private and public land, alongside reservoirs and streams, and crosses wetlands and farmland.  It connects numerous towns in Vermont, and often roadways that connect the East and West Side of the state creating the many well-known ‘gaps’, Middlebury Gap, Lincoln Gap, and Appalachian Gap, to name a few.

As a nurse, I truly believe there is an aspect of healthcare that has to come from the patient.  And, equally as important, as a healthcare provider, it is our responsibility to educate patients to take ownership for their health.  Preventative healthcare needs to stem from patients and healthcare providers working together to develop an awareness of health and wellness as a daily process that needs constant nurturing.  Our health is a life long process.  It, too, has peaks and valleys.  As a nurse, it is my job to ensure patients are educated and supported as they journey to implement health and wellness into their lives.