As one injury has bled into the next over the last year and a half (or more), I admit that my absence from the trail race scene (as a running participant, at least) has been a source of some frustration. But as the latest maladies fade and I start to round back into some semblance of running shape, I was reminded last weekend that what I've missed most of all are the essentials: good company, a stout run, beautiful trail. There is something invigorating about getting out in the forest (almost painfully green in places) and running for miles without seeing anyone other than your running mates. Pinning on a race number and toeing a start line is good fun and appeals to the competitive side. But if I had to choose between racing or fun runs like last weekend's jaunt on the Lone Star Trail, it wouldn't even be close. Fortunately, I don't have to choose, and I'm now signed up for not one, but TWO trail races: Hell's Hills 50K and Miwok. May even throw in a 25K at Hogs Hunt in a few weeks. Right now, running is good again. And when running is good, everything else is just a little easier to deal with.