Dreams of Running and Running in Dreams – in Missoula

By MISTY GAUBATZ

The other night, I was dreaming. And I was running. I was running in dreams.

At first, in the dream, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just knew that I was moving through space in a forested area, and I knew that I was happy. Slowly, as the dream went on, I began to realize that I was running. It was easy and fun.

That was about two days before Thanksgiving and the 8k race that I had signed up for.

I’ve never been a runner, until recently. In fact, some people might see me run and still say I’m not a runner. I’m not fast. I don’t have perfect form (whatever that is). And all of my running clothes come from thrift stores. But I’ve learned that I love to run. I love to feel myself move through the air, through the weather. I love to feel the sun on my face, or the rain on my arms, or to watch the snow fly toward me like fluffy white down feathers. I love to see the bewildered look on the faces of deer as I run by. I love to feel the energy and life move through my body.

I started running this past spring after a few half-hearted attempts at other times in my life. Not knowing that I was supposed to gradually increase mileage, I injured my Achilles tendon. After a month of resting, I joined the beginning runners’ class with Run Wild Missoula. The three wonderful women who coached the class gave us a schedule to build-up our mileage and finish with a 5k race. It was inspiring to meet others who were just getting started, and so helpful to have some direction.

 

A snowy scene from last year's Turkey Day 8k. Photo by Neil Chaput deSaintonge.

But I have to say, what I most love is the solitude of running. It’s like the whole world disappears for a while. All that’s left is the rhythmic sound of my breath, maybe the rush of a river, or the light wing-beat of a bird spooked by my approach. Who knew running could be so relaxing?

And even from that place of solitude, I feel I am part of a community. On any trail, any path or street, there are others running with me. And I’ve noticed, there is a special smile of greeting and recognition that runners exchange in passing. It’s like we’re all members of a secret community who know that the best way to warm up on a frigid day is to lace up your shoes, get outside, and go for a run. It may only be 30 degrees, but the run makes it feel as hot as a summer’s day. It’s a community that knows that the journey is the destination, and that while we’re still moving, we’ve already arrived.

That community of runners was present at the Missoula Turkey Day 8k on Thanksgiving. The collective energy was awesome. I can’t remember hearing anyone say go, but the brightly-clothed runners all around me began to move at once. Like a field of tall grass in the beginning of a great wind storm, the energy moved us all in the same direction. People of all ages and shapes, running. Down the trail along the river near the mountains, we were running. After the many who are faster than I had reached the turn-around point and were heading back toward the finish, there were those runners’ smiles, even cheers and high-fives from those I knew, and some I’d never met before that passing moment at the race.

And as I ran, I remembered myself running in dreams. And I realized I was living it — living the dream while I was running.

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   Stay in the loop with Missoula’s running community. Check out the Run/Walk It archives for more posts from other Missoula runners andwalkers.

The fun doesn’t stop just ’cause the snow flies! Be sure to check out RWM director Eva Dunn-Froebig’s post on cold weather running  for more info about Missoula’s winter races.

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Misty Gaubatz lives and works in Missoula. She enjoys running with her spouse Kamal Fox, and sometimes with their dog Keedus who has an irrational fear of beeping watches. Misty hopes to complete the Missoula Marathon next summer with her two big sisters.