thursday running reflections
Thursday, December 27, 2012
good morning. yesterday went for a run at the park. it was cold with a very strong crosswind. the sky was a washed out french blue, which spilled a blue gray cast over everything--the snow, the trees, the ice, everything. no sun--not a shadow in sight. just the cold wind and a blue-gray world.
the skeletons of the beautiful compass plants, which throw an abundance of yellow sunflowers in early fall traced black against the backdrop of the snowy slopes. prairie dropseed grass rose stiffly out of the little drifts; a bristling, rustling porcupine's back that dipped and bowed in the wind.
no one is in the park right now--it is very still except for the soft rolling of the wind in the bare trees. all i can really hear is the sound of the podrunner music--which guides my feet forward. while i run, i check myself as coach jenny instructs in her running tips that come at the end of each session. head up and neutral, shoulders down, arms ninety degrees at the elbow and swinging back and forth like a pendulum. feet hitting in the center. from my chi running i add a reminder to push my feet out behind me rather than reach in front, and let my hips swing easily. stay loose--don't stiffen up. the cold wind prompts another reminder--breathe through your nose, not your mouth. i can feel a mild tightness in my chest as my bronchi react to the chill. close your mouth--close your mouth. and it fades. i focus my eyes on the turn ahead of me--i know i have just passed the mile mark. as i round the corner the wind swings around to my back. i lower down into my stride, close my eyes to half slits and stretch out, watching the next curve at the top of the rise i am climbing. the music changes to another song, and the drumbeat is very strong as it shows me the new tempo. a little faster. breathe through your mouth. shoulders down. legs behind you. as the hill falls away behind me and i hit the flat again, i can feel my feet as they strike the ground. my mind drifts all over the place--will they have strawberries at the store--what will i have for lunch when i meet my friend, ben, today--do i need to look for a heated dog bed--will the seed savers catalog come today. i cover a multitude of ideas while my arms and legs continue on in their rhythmic meditation.
just before the halfway mark at 2 miles, a pair of white tail bucks burst out of the scrubby trees and leap across in front of me. one is a beautiful trophy buck--i would say 10 pointer. the other is probably a 6 pointer. tails pegged to the sky they bounce into the ditch and disappear within the enfolding landscape. time to turn around.
now i am returning--passing my landmarks and feeling the satisfaction of completion with each step. past the wetland reconstruction sign. past the big wetland where the winter eagle loafs in the empty osprey nest, past the smaller wetland where the cattle egrets hunt frogs in the summer, past the road that leads to the boat launch. now i am very near the end and just to keep me humble, the final curve takes me back into the full teeth of the wind and up a hill. i catch myself with my head down and my shoulders hunched to take the force of the work. ease up, raise your head. let go of your shoulders. feet behind you, let your hips move freely. one, two, one, two--the music draws me forward. i picture a string at the top of the rise; connected to my chest and pulling me along. my eyes narrow down into slits again as i stare at the "summit". then i am there and on the flat again. a few more steps and the music plays the set of tones that signal my run time is done and i am in the cooldown walk. i raise my arms and whoop--much to the consternation of the park staffer who is working on a water hydrant. we smile and wave--i am a familiar figure to all these folks--and i turn the corner that will take me back to my car.