Just 6 months out of hospital, my first real trail running since the accident provided an opportunity to challenge demons and discover strength.

Since my accident, I have struggled to rebuild my relationship with technology as such, having no internet access in Andorra made it easy to spend more time with my journal when not on the trails of the pristine Pyrenees. With all due respect to the fantastic team of professional therapists who have supported me, I have always found journaling along with movement meditation in mountains my most effective forms of therapy.

Though apparently lively in  winter, I welcomed the serenity of Soldeu and the ease of trail access. Adjusting to life outside of a clinical setting, along with my visual challenges, I will do almost anything to avoid large groups of people, feeling more at ease by time alone, finding myself in the mountains.

On the edge of the largest ski resort the Pyrenees, I filled my Fastpack with snacks and maps before exploring trails for the better part of each day. Just 6 months out of hospital, this has been the first real trail running I have done since the accident though the running is more accurately classified as mountain running. However described,  both trail and mountain running provide a chance to challenge my demons and discover a strength I never imagined I would experience again.

With limited depth perception, coupled with merely partial movement of my left eye and no use of my right eye, perhaps stumbles and falls should be expected when navigating rocky terrain.  Therapists have recommended trying navigation sticks for a mobility tool though I refuse to accept such aid. That said, the more time I spend in public, the more I am becoming aware of my anxiety, fear and frustration when I am startled by unforeseen movement, objects and people on my right side. With some convincing, I added a set of lightweight running poles to my collection of gear while in Andorra and my confidence was given an instant boost, both for ascending and descending trails. Despite their help, my first big fall was atop the border of Andorra and the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. Bloody knees and hands ingrained with stones, swelling, bruising along with frustration, feelings of discouragement, anger and fear, were accompanied by tears though soon thereafter thankful that it was not worse. As Patrick Monahan of Train proclaims, and my brother continually reminds me, bruises make for better conversation.

Reflecting back on 4 weeks in Andorra, it is clear why there is so little written about trail running there as, on only a handful of days, did I ever cross paths with another runner. Despite its small size, Andorra trails offer everything, including that which I am challenged to see from roots to rocks, boulders, streams and steps—and signage. As such, for a visually impaired runner, without a guide, I am reluctant to recommend. However, I am fortunate to have enough sight to appreciate the varying terrain in this pristine region of the Pyrenees and thankful for the encouragement received to take this first step towards tackling the mountains of my mind.

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