Reasons To Be Slow – John Morelock

West Fork Dosewallips River Trail
West Fork Dosewallips River Trail
NPS Jim Patterson

Reasons to be Slow…

I hereby resolve to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, but not necessarily in that order and maybe not each of them all of the time, nor all of them at the same time, nor for the whole year, and I am still subject to bribes, gifts, and nepotism. A couple of chocolate chip cookies and the whole thing goes out the window.

Bummer. I just noticed “…keeps clean in body and thought…”–maybe this isn’t going to work after all. I would probably drop the whole thing for eight months of hard, healthy training and one more trip to [insert favorite run here].

Over the years as I have ran along the roads, trails, byways, and bypaths I have blamed just about everything imaginable: bristle cone pines, “Alice in Wonderland” caterpillars, really old redwoods, newly bloomed alpine meadows, fields of ice frosted grass glistening on a winter morning, a porcupine wondering what I was doing on “her” trail, whales, beavers, waterfalls, lava beds, mushroom cities, armadillos, cacti, great blue herons, stars at two o’clock in the morning, rainbows, a pair of eyes looking back in the flashlight beams, snow as the trail went up and down a ridge line, a solstice’s full moon lighting our trail, snakes, rabbits, leaves falling, ravens rising, fog and sun streaks and shadows through the fog, and even bad burritos for my taking too long to cover a particular piece of ground.

I once stopped dead in my tracks during the Aptos No Creek Trail Marathon when rounding a curve in a redwood grove to acknowledge a tree; possibly 25 feet in diameter, branches way far above me and over 3 feet thick–for over 2,000 years it had been standing there, patiently waiting for me to pass. How long it took me to complete that course that day just could not matter; could not compare to the wonder I felt in running ‘neath the branches of the giants.

My wife and I still look up into the Olympic National Park from the ferry as we cross an arm of Puget Sound and remember the time we took the better part of an early spring day covering 38 miles of trails, crossing two passes and three snow-field fed, bone-chilling icy cold rivers, slowly rounding the shoulder of Mt. Constance and heading on down the trail along the bank of the Dosewallups River–no T-shirts, no finishing clocks, no time goals–just hoping our daughter had moved our car around to where we were going to finish–even that was forgotten many times as we passed in and out of timber stands watched by curious mountain goats, stopped at another waterfall…just runnin’, that was all we were doing.

Every now and then I still run with time in mind, but mostly I just run with being out there in mind, if I can get my mind to be there at all.

John Morelock


John Morelock writes the “Run Gently Out There” column featured in Ultrarunning magazine and ran his first ultra in 1986. He has completed several ultras – most of them in the Pacific Northwest. He lives on Whidbey Island in Washington state with his wife, Kathy. The home of multiday running news and events.

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