Used to be, years ago, I only mountain biked. I looked at people who didn’t mountain bike funny, like from-another-planet funny. Mountain biking was the greatest thing ever, my look said, what is wrong with you? Don’t you get it? Fundamentalist Christians have that same look when they learn you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

For almost ten years I did nothing but mountain bike. Sure, I snowboarded every now and again and even dug out the cross-country skis a couple of times a year. I even hiked three fourteen-foot mountains one Colorado summer a few years back.

But it was all about the mountain biking. It was a long-term commitment and those other sports were merely flings.

Then the anemia hit. All of the sudden I was passing out any time I ascended over ten thousand feet. I bid goodbye to the high altitude ride and tried to ignore the knot in my stomach that was basically telling me I wasn’t invincible. I blamed the passing out and wavy lines and floaters on my being out of shape, unwilling to admit I had a more serious problem. I crippled my way through an entire season of snowboarding and mountain biking this way. It was scary, especially when I was out alone.

Then the sciatica hit. I couldn’t stand up for the pain. I could barely walk into the chiropractor’s office that day, but I’m glad I did. That man changed my life. Doctors and physician assistants had been ignoring my complaints of passing out. When I got sick for six weeks back in 2005, my chiropractor ran full bloodwork on me, something those “regular” doctors couldn’t be bothered with.

With the sciatica, mountain biking was out. My mother and I spent four glorious days in Crested Butte but I didn’t bring the Yeti because I couldn’t ride. Being in Crested Butte and not mountain biking is like taking crack away from an addict.

But I began trail running. For my birthday my mother bought me these supafly trail runners because you need different shoes for running than you need for trail running. They’re Montrails and they’re badass–just pick up any buyer’s guide for hiking and it’ll agree with me.

Now, when I say trail running I mean hiking up the trail and running down. In my mind it’s not exactly cheating because I warm up on the uphill and then jog on the downhill. My Montrails are a thinner, longer version of my New Balance running shoes. Toe room is key for trail running because on steep descents your feet are moving forward in the shoe. I love my trail runners; we’ve been together for three years and I never take them out on pavement, just as the shoesaleslady at Paradox Footwear instructed me. (Great shoe store, by the way. Check it out next time you’re lucky enough to be in Crested Butte.)

Here’s the irony: I’m now trail running more than I’m mountain biking, by about two to one. Three years ago, before the anemia and sciatica, I would have mocked myself.

It seems ludicrous, but I might be maturing.

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