Last evening a very mild breeze wafting through my window caused me to look up then out. That’s when I noticed a nice hue to the sky. Instantly, I wanted to be outdoors, so I headed for the lake.
Lake Merritt is a ten minute walk away from my apartment. Its’ got a 3.1 mile walking and jogging path, and when I don’t have the time to walk the entire lake, I walk half way around. At the end of April, I started training for a 5K and I ran the lake three days a week and walked it the other days. Now I’m training for a 10K and running the lake three days a week and walking it the other days. Yesterday my training required me to run 5 miles and I did so by running once around the lake then continuing until I hit the 5 mile mark.
I’m drawn to the lake like a moth is drawn to the light. I find it irresistible. I remember a quote I read long ago that I never forgot: “Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” The lake is where I go to walk, to run, to ruminate over my problems, to sit and meditate on everything and nothing. Last evening, there just happened to be a gondola out there. It’s a rare occasion that I’m out by the lake at the time that the gondolier is using his oar to guide his gondola on a romantic voyage across the lake. When I’ve seen the gondola in the past, I didn’t have my camera, but last evening, I did.
Today I attended the Southwest Masters Regional rowing event hosted by Lake Merritt. It was early, about 7:30 a.m., and the first rowers had already begun. I studied them. I watched the women rowers warming up. They were strong. One woman shouted out orders and the others obeyed, all in unison. It was like watching a beautiful waltz on the lake. Their movements were synchronized to perfection. As they glided across the lake, I thought about how similar running is to rowing. Runners use their legs to get across the land. Rowers use their arms to get across water. Both use vast amounts of energy, both train and nourish their bodies for the purpose of performing at their best. The result is a sight to behold. I view it as a force of energy moving the human body forward.
At one point, while I was taking a shot of some pelicans on the lake,
I overheard a mother telling her daughter, who looked to be about 9 years old as they ran together, that she just needed to put one foot in front of the other and to empty her thoughts of everything and allow her feet to just float over the asphalt. Lovely thought, I said to myself, makes sense if you are a feather but it just isn’t that easy. I watched them trot off together down the path and I snapped a shot.
To me, running is a process of mind over matter. I’m thinking about all the times my gradient was raised during my training and I thought, there’s no way I can run even one more step. My legs feel like elastic. Then a powerful voice takes over in my mind and says, of course you can do it. You did it years ago and you can do it again. You can, you can, you can! Fortunately, this dominant voice has been winning over the weak one that would like to quit and go get a cup of coffee while I slump into a comfortable chair. I realized today that that voice is not unlike that commanding voice of the rowers telling them how to use their oars, when to slow down, when to begin again.
I’ll continue to pay attention to that voice because it’s the voice that gets me where I want to go. I may argue with it at times, I may question its authority, but eventually, I will abide by its urgings, and it will never let me down.