Monthly Archives: March 2015

An Orderly Series of Errors

There is an… No. There should be an order to the occurrence of errors. Mistakes should be arranged in a certain magnitude as the day develops, as the miles pass ever more slowly. The suddenness of the change from running to walking tells of the ignorance in which I sought shelter. There was no one to tell me running sevens (mile pace) for fifty miles was not to be done this early in the day.

The web of deceit awaits...
The web of deceit awaits…
I was eating well. Someone even took a picture of me dallying at an aid station and put it in UltraRunning. There I was, preserved for eternity, trying to gain weight as I ran my first 50-mile ultramarathon. The eating was not a problem that day. A lack of respect, based on the bliss of ignorance–there is that word again–let me leave the 40-mile aid station still running just over seven minutes to the mile. The debt collector, never a humorous sort, came calling about a mile later. He arrived with such suddenness that I actually fell off into the roadside bushes. I am never a pretty sight, sometimes I frighten small children or puppies–what could I look like with these spasmodic limbs and uncooperative joints as I tried to regain verticality? I crawled to a nearby highway sign and slowly returned to upright.

I started walking. In just a few steps normalcy returned. Aha! It was just a random cramp; just a minor inconvenience.

I have never had pineapple upside down cake at an ultra, but...
I have never had pineapple upside down cake at an ultra, but…
It wasn’t. The seven-minute miles became ten-minute miles with no pause at the in-between numbers. The brief flirtation with tens was short as 15-minute miles now seemed to be all-out running and that was the way things would finish.
Sometimes the directions were unclear to me.
Sometimes the directions were unclear to me.

“Do you want to change shoes?” I looked around at the three other runners. They all had a pair or shoes in hand to change to after the river crossing.
“Yes.” Kathy brought a pair of shoes. The wrong shoes. Everyone has some wrong shoes.If you look at a problem from a different viewpoint...If you look at a problem from a different viewpoint…

I absolutely cannot remember where I was going with this.  I know I sometimes repeat mistakes–argue which way we went at a certain fork again; causing some unneeded bushwhacking or two hours extra running when we finally turned around.  It helps that I usually run alone.  I live with the groans and the chorus of “why and why and why” from the demons, and run on.It wasn't that they weren't on the right feet.
It wasn’t that they weren’t on the right feet.

I have never run with my shoes on the wrong feet.  I did run a 10k on trails with one Saucony and one Brooks.  I don’t remember which was the left one and which was the right one.  I won age group; kept a straight face when asked if I always mixed brands.  I ran a couple of hours with no insoles one day because I forgot them.  That one has an easy solution, relace–tighter.  Don’t run long downhills in loose shoes.I think staying home would have been a better idea
I think staying home would have been a better idea

We left the house one day with snow coming down, wind picking up and we were happy with the thought the trails will be all ours today.  We ran a bit, paused to ooh and ahh and revel in the God’s own beauty.  Kathy was the first to notice the wind was moving the tree tops a bit more.  The gentle swaying was turning to dancing, some jerky and snow that had been clinging to the firs and cedars was blowing loose–clumps falling here and there.

It wasn’t long in coming.   Ceraawaack!  Shoulders are scrunched.  Neck is drawn in and both arms go over your head as you try to believe you can tell which direction the sound was—then silence.  “Let’s get down away from the ridge.”  “Okay.”  We dropped down, still hearing limbs breaking, wishing we were on a steep downhill trail and not the contour following one we were on.  The good fortune of knowing that forest meant we could turn down a game trail we normally did not run.  We just wanted down, away from the wind.  We went back the next day.  This time the oohing and ahhing was from looking at the trees and were strewn like pick-up sticks.The decision will be made by someone else.
The decision will be made by someone else.

I am cold.  You have been cold before.  It’s getting colder.  Run faster.  Where is the car?  I parked it down there and ran back up here.  I think I’ll stop when I get to the car.  I’m not going back to the car for a while (she said while running off up the trail).  I don’t have a key.  I know that, keep running.  You’ll warm up.

———-Run gently out there———-

Differing Days

There are days when I simply do not want to have to look down at my feet every step or two.   A deserted road with a center line whose end I cannot see might call. _evening 015
The mountains just across the water, the tendrils of smoke from a mill, or, perhaps it will just be the graceful flight of a Northern harrier searching the prairie for a snack–any number of gentle tugs will let my feet disengage from my conscious and time and distance will go away.
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Bends and curves will be rounded with no thought about–hmm, I suppose that is it.  I sometimes want a run with no thought to be called forth.  Some conscious awareness is needed for seeing geese, eagles, or bicyclists, and  hopes of not quite imagined things are always there.004
Hills, up or down, are just differing strides, shifts of effort.  A watch is just so I know when to turn back.  It has no duty today, no splits or paces to tattle or nag about. It the route is a familiar one, the watch is left on the top of the refrigerator to sulk. jul_17_18 017
Somewhere east of Tonopah was a road whose end we could not see.  We could see mountains that could not be reached if we ran all the rest of our days.  They set just above the ground, shimmering in the heat.  They might be real a hundred or a million  miles away or not at all.  We would flip a coin and the winner would get to run toward something not there, maybe.
Trails ask for more attention, more than just passing awareness, and fewer glances–if any–off into the distance.rain 025Wandering eyes, a meandering mind, and a switchback that has no concern for the state of my mind accounts for scratches from briars, rashes from poisonoak, and the occasional short flight through the air with little grace, ending with the “whoooompf” of the last bit of air leaving my lungs.
auntit_pat_ 053The far side of a valley is not a thing to contemplate as you descend a trail in open country. Rocks await the moment of errant eyes. On a good day it is just a short slide on a grassy hillside. On a more typical day it will be scrapes and bruises and maybe the bonus of cactus needles as a reward.
...On an almost weekly basis I pass under this “leaner”, sometimes pausing to look for signs of recent movement. When it finally falls I will return with saw and clear the trail. I have paused on the uphill side, letting my eyes and mind pretend I see what I will do should it decide to fall as I am coming helter-skelter down Boundary Trail. Our truce has been honored for seven years, but so has its muteness.
bluff_trail_dead_treeThere are trails that seem to live in a world needing neither strict attention nor allowing day dreams. They often add time to runs, but no distance.
—–Run Gently Out There—–

shades of grey

Shades of grey

How many words for grey: ashen, sooty, pearly, silvery, dove-gray, tattletale gray, darkening, foreboding, silver-haired, even fuliginous or grizzled. The waters of Puget Sound were having trouble deciding what shade to be today. I was on pavement trying to get from one park to the other and on to the trail to the house.

An old Douglas Fir, top broken who knows how long ago.
An old Douglas Fir, top broken who knows how long ago.
Blues were trying to break through the upper layer of clouds, or were the clouds trying to close to hide the blue sky. I zipped the front of my tattered windbreaker as I passed the pasture with the llamas. There were llamas on Hope Pass ‘neath a sky more blue than grey some time back. I needed to top the hill so I could pretend to pick up the pace and warm my legs again. Cold has colors too, mostly behind darkened doors. Greys and pale blues don’t warm legs. Gloves have been put back on my chilled fingers.

Anything would brighten the run. It had become one of those runs that is two miles too long. Lambs? I don’t want lambs playing next to the fence as I trudge past. I want… What? Sympathy?

Yes, a display of commiseration would work.

I get lambs. Silly leaping lambs. Now they are playing with the baby llama. Lambs standing on their mother’s back. Oh great, now the wind has died and it’s warm. A hundred yards to the trailhead. Wild roses spread pinkish polka-dots to tell me where to turn. Car noise dies behind me as I escape into the woods again.
HPIM4511
There is no grey in my woods. I see only patches of blue as I look up through the cedars and madronas. We saw trilliums and dogwoods two weeks ago, gone now as the leaves thicken and the darkened forest floor of summer comes. Canada geese were in large number on Wednesday, singing their way somewhere; surely not north, not yet. I see more cormorants in the water. The harlequin ducks ride in the cold waters of their winter home. They wait patiently waiting for some sign that I will never see, hear, or sense, and they will take wing, gone to their mountain homes.
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The unwanted two miles is lengthened as I turn toward the Old Men and my footsteps are quieted as the dirt of the trail becomes padded with the fallen needles of a hundred autumns. Through the darkness of the cedars come slashes of light. Turning at the fork I retrace the steps just made. Steps not mine anymore are set quicker now, legs of years gone away stretch out, briefly a smile as trudge becomes run, shoulders relax, and ground is covered. I feel I could run forever. If I had time, but I don’t know what color time is.

—–Run gently out there—–