The section of the buckeye trail between Pine Lane and Boston Store of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park known as Pine Lane is probably my favorite trail. I have run it so many times I'm convinced I can run it blind reading the contours of the land like a blind person reads braille. I ran it with my ex husband once, when we were still married and happy and took a big fall. He stopped, picked me up, dusted me off and didn't laugh once, much as he did through our 21 year marriage. I've run this trail with running friends like Debi, Sheila, Brett, Sarah, Melissa, E-speed, Maria and Don. I accompanied Bob on his very first trail run during the middle of winter. We showed him how runners can laugh and leave everything on the trail and rest assured it'll stay on the trail till the next time. I fell in love on Pine Lane. A deer watched the two strange creatures sitting just outside the 1/4 mile corridor of Pines with it's wild root labyrinth, while I kissed him at sunset. I did my first terrifying trail run in the dark on Pine Lane and never felt as alive in my whole life. Pine Lane can put a spell on you.
I've picked friends up off the ground and out of the water on Pine Lane like the time Debi, Bob and I crossed the last stream crossing, rocks slick with ice in early winter, when Debi slipped and fell in the water, broke her wrist and ran the rest of the way back to the little clearing in the pines, soaked, her wrist starting to swell, worrying the whole while that her husband wouldn't let her come out and play anymore. We worried too, because running Pine Lane on the weekends is the highlight--our continuous weekend vacation bookended to days on end sitting in our respective work caves pining for Pine Lane.
I like Pine Lane so much I've volunteered the last three years to captain an aid station for our running club to sponsor the Burning River 100. My throng of volunteers were known for cow bell ringing enthusiasm as amazing 100 mile runners climbed the last hill through the pines to our little aid station that marked mile 65,and this year, mile 58.6, in a parking lot clearing ringed with tall summer grass and butterflies, tents wrapped in garland and blinking lights for a Christmas in July theme. We cheered their accomplishments, sponged them off, fed them and fueled their carry bottles and camelbacks with tailored combination of Heed, water, and Gatorade, and pointed them toward the next aid station, Happy Days, 5.5 miles away where more cherished running friends like Maria and Suzanne would take over, and they would leap frog like that, so on and so on, till they valiantly reached their 100 destination.
I stayed busy at my station, but this year, every once in awhile, a wash of pain and regret clouded my vision because an over two year relationship was that day coming to a final end. I was forced to fall out of love or forever have a wounded heart. We started at Pine Lane and ended there too. It's like we went from Pine Lane to Boston and back and called it quits. A perfect out and back relationship made possible by endorphins, moss and mud. Beware the beauty of Pine Lane.
The man I'm dating now used to run in high school. "Why did you quit?" I asked. He said a knee injury stopped him. "Don't you think that would be healed up by now?" I said to my 49 year old date newly discovering fitness. He wants to learn how to run. I'm leery. To teach him, that is. We went on one trail run together--thank goodness not Pine Lane--and he wants to try it again. He's been running on his own and getting more endurance and getting faster. I wondering if we shouldn't get to know each other first before we subject ourselves to the spell of the trails. I'm taking this run extra slow and not taking my eyes off the trail for a second.