Miles and Mileage

It is a funny thing about miles. And mileage.

They sure can sneak up on you.

Yesterday I needed a fix.

I hadn’t burned a quad or pumped up a calf muscle or froze a lung in a week.

So I called my “pusher” and he invited me, along with another “joneser,” to run up Eaglecrest Road.

Those five miles turned into the Black Bear chair lift and a return along the Treadwell Ditch Trail, via one section of muskeg and one still demolished bridge crossing, to Douglas.

Five miles can become 22 in little time when you have mileage accompanying you.

Mileage is that accruement, to me, of those you run with and their conversations.

Mileage is what you learn and companionship and shared Shot Blocks and gels.

It is similar to the baggage from past relationships. Minus the emotional heartbreak or jealousy.

I mean, seriously, if someone has run across a glacier with another waffle-soled addict am I going to be hurt?

Okay, I do get a little hurt when left out of a run or outing or expedition or treasure hunt or breakthrough jaunt across tundra where no Nike trademark has set foot before.

But with mileage you learn about life, or runs in this comparison, and training and trails and up coming events. You learn secrets and what nut to chew on and what berries to bypass and that coconut water isn’t half bad.

Miles on the other hand, is that wear and tear on your body. It is the physical path laid down through puddle, stream, and glacial pools across the peaks and valleys of the landscape.

My pusher has logged almost 300 miles in race competitions this year. His total training miles for the year, which is a number that would require me to drain transmission fluids and engine oils in the family vehicle, isn’t recorded in square feet or yardage but in hours, like a maritime outboard motor... i.e. “I’ve got over 2,000 hours on this engine.”

Kind of scary when you think about it.

But he has the best stuff, that thing you can’t find on the street corner, or in the dark corner of some bar.

Not illegal but not on the store shelves.

It is his plan, his map, his running diary and his itinerary for the next season.

“I want to run from the East Coast to the West, across the major hiking trails, in a year.”

Of course that is after he runs 100 miles in below zero temperatures to retrace a portion of the Iditarod.

That, good readers, is mileage.

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