NOT AT HOME by Nick Arndt

“Not at home. Nope. Not at home.”

Again and again, this was the phrase I mentally muttered to myself as I opened up my stride on the Escarpment Trail, overlooking Lake of the Clouds. Similarly to whom I borrowed this quote, Bilbo Baggins experienced some sort of jubilation as he tip-toed around Smaug underneath the Lonely Mountain. The views, my effort, and the atmosphere culminated at once, leaving me ecstatic and even emotional at times. I was two and a half hours deep into a run in foreign backcountry territory, yet my fitness allowed me to enjoy every step. I was not at home.

A couple hours later, here I am, currently, slouched in the library armchair of Minocqua, Wisconsin, still feeling the “high” of the day’s effort.

Yesterday, Twitter brought me news of a superhuman achievement by ultrarunner Jim Walmsley. Jim became the fastest human to double cross the Grand Canyon (R2R2R), running the 21 miles across and then repeating, back to where he started. It took him 5h55m, shattering the previous record held by legend Rob Krar (6h21m), crowning him as the new King of the Canyon. Legendary stuff.

Jim’s accomplishment fueled today’s motivation. I wanted to run far. I wanted to hurt. I wanted to be depleted of calories. I wanted to get muddy. Check. Check. Check. And, check.

My legs felt surprisingly refreshed after yesterday’s long effort (combined with six hours of driving) and compounding abuse of eating an entire bag of Lays BBQ kettle chips, a large bag of Haribo gummy bears, and 12 chocolate chip cookies, along with a foot-long sub.

Upon finishing today’s 20-miler, my soul was filled with content. The run was one of the most magical, sensual things I’ve ever experienced.

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