What a wonderful day to be home. I am glad that I made it in last night. After a longer than expected drive due to seven accidents that brought traffic to a halt, I was back in Pasco County. Just like old times, I woke up early the next day to go to J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park. Although overcast and wet, the morning was peaceful, welcoming, and beautiful.
I took to my still most frequently traveled path, the same one I ran down over ten years ago during my first cross country practice at the park. Immediately I was reminded of what I love most about this park. Diversity. Although small in comparison to the Osceola National Forest, close to where I love now, the landscapes in Starkey vary greatly. The ecosystems are always changing, the land discretely rising and falling around lakes. Live oaks, scrub palmettos, cypress strands. Even on a small walk of just a few miles, I am able to experience so much.
As wonderful as my outing turned out to be, it began as the first time this year with my injury that I really felt removed from the running community. As I was sitting in my car behind a line of others eagerly awaiting their opportunity to hit the trail, a group of energetic forty-something runners ran by, hopped the fence, and continued down the road. Normally, I don't feel down when I see runners, but this morning I did. Maybe it was the location. I was jealous that they were able to run in the place that I call home and the place that taught me to love running, to love Florida. Maybe it was that they were the first group of runners who reminded me of my team: bouncy, smiling, chatty, tall, thin, and toned. They looked like runners; they moved like runners. I miss that. Maybe the setback with my injury got to me early today, but I know that I am still moving forward and still progressing. Today, I am happy to be able to rediscover my home on foot, even though those feet are walking.