Running In Wyoming Confirmed I’m An Introvert
My trip to Colorado and Wyoming came at a time when I needed to get away. My summer had been a frantic cycle of new guy, running, work, friends, barre3, and whipping up pasta salads and baked goods just in time for the next party. Some days the cycle had my head spinning: each one of those activities, with the exception of running, was with people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about being able to spend time with people I enjoy. There was no ‘woe is me.’ But there was a need to have a little space, to experience a life different from my own. A need to be in a place where the skies were bluer, the sun was hotter, the air was drier, and–most importantly—where everything felt simply open to my whims of the moment. That place turned out to be Wyoming.
Wyoming was a cross-the-border run from Colorado so I hadn’t put too much stake into how well the run would turn out. Often cross-the-border runs mean running on questionable private property or a nondescript park. I had kept my expectations low. In fact, I thought I would have to run in Cheyenne because the closest landmark across the Colorado-Wyoming border was the Terry Bison Ranch. It seemed unlikely that I would be able to truly run with the buffalo. But, when I saw the signage and pulled off the interstate, hope began to open up. The ranch itself covered a lot of ground from the restaurant to the playground, a trailer park and beyond. I hoped that I could become just a spec in that “beyond.”
I started running through the parking lot, past facades of old west buildings and alongside a trailer park. “Maybe this won’t be so picturesque, after all,” but I trudged along, fighting the higher altitude and repeating the idea that you just never know where a run will take you. Just then the gravel path led through an open gate and down a green hill perfectly situated underneath the blue sky dotted with cotton puff clouds. It looked too beautiful to be true and definitely too beautiful to be open to the public. I took a quick glance behind me. Nobody was there so I kept running. A few minutes in I heard a couple of ATVs approaching. My neuroses kicked in again. I was sure they would ask me to get off the trail. Instead, I let them pass while they just smiled and waved. It seemed that this trail really was mine so I continued on. Not worrying about if it was ok to be on the trail gave me the space to address the altitude. My pace wasn’t that slow but everything was just a little bit tougher. Breathing was labored but, ironically, that was ok. It actually felt better to struggle with the most basic function of breathing than the struggle I’d had of keeping up with my summer schedule.
I ran along a creek with cattails peeking out of the water. I passed rusted fences tilting downward to the dirt. Four horseback riders trotted along in the distance. I thought about how very alone I was. I hadn’t been so fulfilled in weeks. And yet there was only space all around. It hit me, like the catch in my breath from the altitude: I’m an introvert.
If you know me, depending on how well you know me, that might come as a surprise or no surprise at all. Introverts don’t hate people. Many are very social but they are able to be because of being alone. They recharge by being alone. The difference between extroverts and introverts is that extroverts receive energy by being with people whereas introverts receive energy by being alone. On that run through the rolling hills of Wyoming I could feel my energy well filling up. It was such a simple thing to create and take time to be alone and yet I hadn’t really done it for months. I liked the people and activities in my world, so my tendency was to take in as much of that as possible. But it had left me depleted. Running alone between the green hills and blue sky for just 30 minutes put me back at equilibrium. After the run I was fully charged to enjoy visiting the ranch animals, going on a bison feeding train, and even trying a celebratory bison burger. When I went back to my friends’ home in Denver that night, I was exuberant.
Two days after I returned from my trip I got sick and was consequently stuck at home for over a week. In the midst of being sick I broke up with my boyfriend. All of a sudden the busy cycle of exercise and fun slowed to a complete halt. In a way, it was as if my body was saying, “not yet, you need to be alone a little bit longer.” And despite being the sickest I’d ever been, there was something oddly comforting about the forced solitude. I didn’t fight it. I let myself recover and simply be single again. I did the one thing I couldn’t easily do in Wyoming: breathe.