Category Archives: Run/Trip Stories

30 Years Ago Today

hour_glassI am prone to falling prey to a nagging memory that spins tendrils of smoke to keep me from concentrating.  It started on the ferry this morning.  There was something in mind, but what?  It is Monday, so that might rule out running.  Late February… last year?  Nothing.  Here and there in my mind–what was in February?  Mudderfell 6-hour?  Yes, no… not sure.  Snake River Marathon?  I think that was March.  February?  Seaside?  Trails End Marathon was in late February.  That could be it.  Why now?

And then it went away–until about an hour ago.  The Seaside part had clicked.  I quit keeping a running diary in 2002.  Most of the old diaries are in a box in the garage; destined for the recycle bin if I ever take the binding out of them.  Most of them.  1985, 1986, 1997, and 1999 are not in the garage.  They are on a nearby shelf.  1985?  That was the first year.  I had started running in August of 1984.  My first official marathon was the Trails End Marathon in Seaside, Oregon in… oh… oh my.

Thirty years ago today.  In the same place the demons reside are angels sent to brighten otherwise nondescript days; to bring smiles and long gone images.  The cryptic aspect of entries in old running diaries.
—–
Saturday, February 23, 1985
48º start : 58° finish, overcast, no wind– Seaside, Oregon–Trails End Marathon
Disaster–too fast–ran 7:03s thru 18–7:10 for the 19th and then hamstring cramps the rest of the way.  2:16 for the first 19, 1:22 for the last 7.2, 3:38:08 total–oh well, live and learn.  I died a thousand deaths, but I finished and I will do another.  I don’t think I should have done the practice marathon three weeks ago (3:48 on Cap City course)–there is no one to ask.
—–
I looked for history on the Internet and found one Web site with old Trails End results, but it only lists the sub3-hour folks.  I would never make that list.  It required more concentration than I seemed able to hold.  That list caught my eye because of some of the names–mostly Pacific Northwest nostalgia.

Warren Finke 2:35:18 — One of the PNW’s greats and Mudderfell co-RD
Lary Webster 2:48:11 — The grand old leader, almost sub6 at 50 miles at 50
Ron Nicholl  2:49:31 — Hee hee, cut the bracelet off my wrist years later
Chuck Cammack 2:49:58 — Would win one or two (ultras) up here
Lee Fields   2:53:24 — Always flirting with the top ten
James McDowell 2:55:26 – His son, Nate, would be the first to run sub20 at Wasatch
Brian Kessler 2:56:02 — He who knows not of cold (shirtless at 35°)
Sonny Condor 2:57:59 — My memory fails, but…
Fred Willet  2:59:41 — Fred might recall– Fred won Siletz, a tough 50 miles of Coast Hills trails and logging roads, in ’87.john_on_horse002

Thirty years ago today I ran my first marathon.

———-Run Gently Out There———

No Relevant Pictures

Just as the really hazy thought “Was that a root?” passed through some
unnamed, and seldom used, region of my cerebrum, I lost my balance.
_shoes 002
I can usually spell the second sound, the sound you make as you hit the
ground and most, if not all, of the air leaves you lungs. Whumph,
whoomphhhf, ooufm. or some variation.a_sequoias1
It is the first sound I was concerned with at the moment. I was making it
as my eyes searched the landing spot for rocks (none), pointy things
(none), and that little distraction of whether or not I will miss the trail
and finally find out what it feels like to slide down two-hundred feet of
grassy, but really steep hillside.

Maybe hnnuhhoumph? Seems close.

I’ve got the right should turned so I will land on my side, Uh oh, I’m
crooked and I am going over the edge. Am I above the lake? Yeth.
charlie_dog
Something like wahhnooumpurhk? Maybe.

Ooumph? Okay, some air is still in the lungs, but I am slipping over; grab
something… no, not on the downhill side, grab something on the uphill
side..huh? Anything, just grab something. Okay. Got some vines. Be still.

It was more high pitched. Haennpheeeeng? Yeah, that’s real close.
cosh_1
Got balance back? Almost. Can I roll left? Uphill? No. Slide your
right hand down and find a grip. What are you doing? Looking at the
driftwood I’m going to roll to a stop against. Push with your right hand.
Okay… any air around here yet?

Okay, I think “whaneieenungh” fits. Yeah. Can I roll over now. Pull on
the vines a little. Okay. Will they hold? I think so. Only need a
couple of inches. Ready. Go. Push. Okay? Yeah, I’m good.

Whaneieegungh followed by ooumph should do it.
kathleen_prairie (Large)
How long you going lay here?
Not long.
What did you trip on?This.
Not much of a root.
I can do a lot with a little.

—–Run Gently Out There—–

Goat Run

Great Olympic Adventure Trail Marathon, September 6, 2014 [ Goat Run on Facebook
www.greatoatrun.org ] The finish area…

Finish area -- Lake Crescent, Washington, USA
Finish area — Lake Crescent, Washington, USA

“No camera.”

I agreed easily.  I love “camera runs”–pauses for this and that and my mind barely on running.  That would not work today.  I would need to not pause, not search for old trees, mosses, ferns, and lichens; not look for eagles when I could hear chittering; not pause… today I need to run; in whatever shape running may present itself.

The years and miles have passed with my having retained just enough conscious awareness of their lessons that I am aware of certain lackings.  I have some endurance, but it won’t be enough.  I have some strength, but not as much as today’s climbs will demand.  I have almost no speed–the three days of work each week have eaten into training time and speed is the least forgiving and most conducive to injury, so it was ignored.  The word “racing” was banished from even the most creative of fantasies.  No racing.

I should probably do this in some sort of chronological order.

In early May (2014) I saw an announcement for the Great Olympic Adventure Trail Marathon (GOAT Run) on September sixth.  My first official paid-a-fee trail run was on the northerly end of the Olympic peninsula a not-so-short 29 years ago.  Heart strings were tugged, memories rekindled, rational thoughts pushed aside, and another entry blank was sent in (okay, it was a Web registration–I miss getting to mail entry blanks).

Without using my fingers I can count June, July, August, and September as an almost four-month training period.  By ignoring the idea that my three-day a week job is more physical this year than usual and just plain lying to myself about my current level of fitness, another not quite grand adventure is started.  Kathy’s comment about poor arithmetic because the two-week taper means … never mind.  The Goat Run is on.

The training, such as it was, sort of went well.  There were “long” runs of 3-hours, 3½-hours, a 3:58 that was a good push, and a 4-hour, but nothing to drive away the nagging little fears that the old days of 30-35 mile longer runs two of every three weekends banished.  Some days of good running only lead to introspection that enhanced the doubts.  In the last few miles of the four-hour run I was on three miles of pavement to the house.  I knew where the one-mile and the two-mile marks were—should I do just a tiny little test?  Okay, not a push, but a hold steady, no kicking, just keep… 9:02, 9:11… Hmmm, elation is quickly followed by the voices that scream, “Sure, that’s good for two miles, but you can’t do that for several hours.”  I agreed and shuffled on home.

The finale, the victory for those screams of doubt from the inner demons came on the Wednesday ten days before the marathon.  I was inside the two-week taper and full of all the doubt, fear, dread, trepidation, and misgivings I could muster.  I could blame it on Kathy being gone to her writing group meeting.  She would have stopped me.  I filled the CamelBak, stuffed a handful of Endurolytes in a pocket with the Milky Way bar, and headed for the forest — blah blah blah yak yak yak — a little over five hours later I was home.  As I unlaced my shoes a voice from the kitchen put things in perspective.

Good run?
Yes.
What time did you leave?
Eight-thirty.
John… five and a half hours… ten days out.
I know, but…

Naught that can be done now. (I just did that so I could use “naught”.)

The ferry crossing and the drive to Port Angeles were done.  We met Josh and Iris Sutcliffe — e-people that became real people that became friends — a good meal, better conversation, and all too soon it was time to go.

A starting line where I knew no one–an oddity of old times, typical of today.  At other times I could turn and look at where we would go.  Today I did not know which way to look.  Time to go.  Even in the first mile there was no plan yet to be viewed.  I made sure to be at the rear.  The worst thing I could do was get caught up in other peoples’ pace and day.  I needed to stay “inside” and wait.  A strange annoyance, something never heard before, offered to accompany me.  I had dumped a lot of ice in the CamelBak, fearing the forecast heat, before adding the magic powders (another untried something or other).  The ice “rattled” when I ran.  Bleah.  I am hyperconscious of intruding in other people’s running.  I slowed down so the noise would not intrude.  I passed through the first aid station, slowing only enough to say “Thank you” to the volunteers.

The numbers game came calling as a sign saying “3 Miles” was seen and passed.  I should not have worn a watch, but I was worried with cut-off times and, although I did not know what I would be able to do if something needed to be done, not only wore it, but had hit “Run” when we started.  I glance down at the numbers: 33:23 — uh… I am running elevens?  Uh oh.  That is way too fast.  The first half of the course has the most climbing.  We are in sort of long rollies, but I can tell we are climbing.  I also know I am not walking some of the things I should be walking.  Ratz.  I am running with “them” instead of with me.  I am on the tail end of a train of six people.  What to do?  Let the demons come to the surface and have their say?  This early?

Okay, as another eleven-minute mile passes I give up on the marathon and (only a couple of small voices of protest) decide to run for a decent half marathon time.  A few climbs, a few almost flats, lots of little switchback things, and the train that slowly separates from me take me through the first half of the course.  I passed the 13-mile post at 2:44:07 and pretend to hold that effort for a bit farther.  At 2:45 on a conveniently placed climb I give thought to the rest of the day.  I am very happy with the half marathon time, but I am in the midst of a beautiful forest instead of a finish line.  What to do?

The doldrums in my mind screamed for attention between the 13 and the 16.  There were three climbs, each about four miles long during this stretch.  I was having a few problems, but could not isolate them.  I decided my right hamstring, left sartorius, twinges in both shoulders, and a hangnail on my right thumb would probably bring me to a halt.  I wondered if the sweep would have a means of getting me to a convenient dumping spot.  The loud scolding from a Stellar Jay shook me awake.  If I am still moving enough for a bird to notice, maybe … would I be on Plan B or C… anyone… H?  Really? Okay.  If I can get the shuffle going and roll on into the aid station at the sixteen… they’ll have a truck I can ride in to the finish line?  No.  No no no.  If you can get to the sixteen, you are inside double digits.  Oh.  Okay.

The sixteen-mile aid station and a life-saver appears (not the goats).  The kindest of the kind, a young woman I have never seen before is slicing oranges just for me.  How did she know?  I ate several, added a couple of pretzels, smiled at the goats (not longingly), noticed the spasms were quieted… hmmm.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here. Off across the clear cut I went.  The only ugly part of the course.  Clear cuts are saddening for me.  I love trees.  I touch some of them as I pass.  These stumps, all that is left of a life that had begun six- or seven-hundred years ago, distracted me from my misery and that helped.  My mind returned to what was left to do.  I am inside a double-handful of miles.  I left the clear cut as the trail took me inside a stretch of old growth forest.  Huge cedars and ferns, coolness and moistness could be felt.  Some of my shuffling was almost running.  I patted the CamelBak, wanting to know if I could drink more.  Could I drink enough to decrease the deficit, maybe get a bit of energy back… a mile post…18.  I am only two miles from the 20-mile station.  A brief recollection of the profile flashes in my mind’s eye.  All the major (as in “steep”) climbs are behind me. No?  No no no… are you sure… no, between the 15 and 22ish I am never sure of anything.

Oh boy!  Another orange slicer.  Yay for strangers with sharp knives and a box of oranges.  I drink a few cups of pink stuff, eat a few slices of oranges, and ask if they have enough I could fill the bladder.  Yes, take all you need.  There are only a few behind you.

What!  There is someone behind me (other than the sweep)?  I have been expecting the grim reaper to round a curve and catch me for several miles.  There are “others” back there?  I put the lid back on the bladder, bid farewell and headed down the trail.  The last not-really-a-major-climb finally ended.  The trail changed to an old logging road going downhill.  A downhill whose help I could not accept.  I could not run fast enough to appreciate the descent and having to hold back made the long ago mentioned right hamstring protest more than I could bear (I take wimpy to a new level every year).  Since there were no cameras in sight I started sort of weaving from one side to the other, trying to avoid using the hamstrings for brakes, getting on down the hillside to… another road.  This time it is a real road, gravel, but wide and… Aha!  I am on the road that is alongside the creek that empties into Lake Crescent.  I am inside four miles to go.  I am … there is a truck coming up behind me.  Glancing back, I decide I should step off or eat dust.  Truck stops, guy with a badge asks, “What are you doing?”  “Getting out of the way so you can go by.”  He looks at me (remember I have on running shorts, running shoes, snazzy running cap, CamelBak, lots of salt stains) and says, “Is there a race going on?”  Hmmm, well, there was until you destroyed my concentration and the whole thing is falling apart while you think you are doing some sort of harmless talking.  “Yes.”  “Okay, well, I better go.  Have a good run.”  “Thank you.”

The whole regrouping, restarting… ratz and phooey and… okay, you can walk, right?  Right!  Walk hard.  When you crest the hill, switch to shuffle to jog to run, right?  Right!  A milepost–24–is 6:30 still within reach? I think so. The last aid station came in view.  I had been listening to the water from a good-sized creek down there in the trees.  I asked the aid station folks when the road would quite climbing.  He muttered something about it flattens out a little, not completely.  Oh.  I left, tried to run, felt the twinges, switched to walking.  A last bit of consciousness allowed me to understand I was walking uphill at under fifteens.  Stretches of shade and a breath of cool air from the creek were godsends as I concentrated and walked as hard as I could.  The idea that the creek originates in Lake Crescent and I was to climb all the way hit me about the same time I saw the pavement.  A woman with a nice smile and cheerful face pointed to the left. I looked at another uphill section.  I looked at her, asking does it ever go downhill?  “A little, but you only have six tenths of a mile to go.”  What!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I looked at my watch: 5:58 and six tenths to go.  Really?  I was standing there.  I looked at her, “Really?”  Out loud this time.  She smiled, “Yes,” and sort of waved her hands, shooing me away toward the orange cones along the side of the road.

Smaller goals — cone to cone — run the downs and the flats, walk to the uphill ones… whoa, run two cones? Sure, piece of cake.  There’s a guy in a folding chair, hmmm.  “Are you going to point me downhill?”  Smiles and points downhill.  And then the whole thing goes away.  The spasms stop.  The endurance was almost enough.  The strength was for walking and it was enough.  There was no speed, but it didn’t matter.  It is downhill to the finish line and there is someone there to hold me up again.

Leaning on her, again.
Leaning on her, again.

Delayed Onset Dumb-Assed Running

DODAR, nounish, “Delayed Onset to Dumb-Arsed Running”

With the onset of the sixth week of turning back to the car, bike, or house
because of the pain as I tried to run, the idea of having a doctor look at
my leg crossed my mind. The visit went okay, more or less–more because he
said there was nothing major wrong with my Achilles tendon–less because he
told me I shouldn’t do “that” again. The “that” had brought a smile to his
face. I think there was a bit of empathy too, maybe a smidgen of sympathy.
He had been listening, nodding in support, then smiled and almost chuckled
when I described what I done to create the “that.”

It was in late July, a wonderfully warm and almost windless day. We did
not want to wander here and there on our well-shaded trails. We wanted out
in the sun. We decided to go to Padilla Bay. There is a 2-1/8th of a mile
gravel-surfaced walking path alongside the huge tidal basin. An almost
flat ribbon with no roots or rocks to trip over, plenty of room for passing
or meeting other people, and, something to be damned and double-damned
later on, markers every 1/18th of a mile.

We don’t get many days with temperatures above 62ºF on the island. I
parked and we got out. The warm air (about 70ºF) plus the clear and
windless sky brought forth the illusive memory of muscles being warm and
flexible. I said I was going to alternate running and walking the eighths
of a miles to the other end. Forgetting, or neglecting, the idea that I
tend to always go out in a blaze of glory (followed by an early and
dramatic death) I started… wait! What’s this? I have my genuine
runner’s watch on; some rarely worn for trail outings. I was only a few
yards down the path. I stopped and returned to the “0” sign. I switched
the watch to stopwatch mode, clicked “Start” and blazed off in search of
the next eighth of a mile post. I arrived there just a few seconds before
switching from aerobic to anaerobic, the last remaining conscious thought
was to hit the “Split” button… and observe as the first recovery leg
started.

What’s this? 59? Hmmm, add one and 59 becomes 60–a minute. I just did
220 yards (sounds a lot longer than an eighth of a mile) at 8-minute pace.
Wow? It is only about once a month that I do the one-mile long Partridge
Point Road with a watch on–just as a check to see what it is that I call
running these days. I am tickled pink to still see 9:00 – 9:15 without
turning red or appearing in need of the EMT folks. Hmmm, an 8-minute pace
and the first recovery leg is done and–hit the button and off I go.

61? Really? So, there is some spring left in the two limbs I have
mistreated the most. There are two Great Blue herons near the path. They
move through the water with no ripples, watching for their next meal,
graceful and silent–neither pays me any notice. The next post is near and
I click the button again. I am in totally awe of my ability to sit in a
two-second window of variation by the end of the 2 1/8th miles. The splits
were 59, 61, 60, 61, 59, 59, 60, 60, 59. An ego being easily inflated I
was immediately and overwhelmingly impressed. Said ego also allowing me to
ignore the slight twinge coming from the lower half of my left leg.

I watched another Great Blue Heron and a few other water birds, a
Kingfisher chittering as it dove, and waited for Kathy to arrive. I told
her my splits and said I was going to quarter miles on the way back. It was
just too nice a day to waste on easy running. She mentioned something
about that being way too fast for me–not having done anything remotely
resembling speed work in a long time. I (recall the “ignoring..” just
mentioned) said I was okay, hit the “Start” button and took flight.

The first quarter mile was great: 2:01 — recovery jog seemed a bit short
when the next post suddenly appeared, but I hit “Split” and took off: 2:00
— with a slightly enlarged and cottony tongue I recovered again — 1:58
and I am suddenly thinking maybe I should not do the next one. There is a
twinge down there in the lower part of the left leg…ahh, just one more
and the set of four is done and off I go. The ice pick was inserted just
as I passed the post. It was not left in. It barely caused me to break
stride. I slowed slowly and looked at my watch: 2:00 — the thought of
still being master of the steady pace on a flat course was interrupted by
the ice pick being jabbed in my left calf again.

I did the jog/shuffle thing back to Kathy. She asked how it went. I
immediately said: 2:01, 2:00, 1:58, 2:00 and started to say, but she
pointed at my legs and said how are they–you are limping. I said I think
I just did something dumb. Should have stopped with the outbound series?
Yes. How bad? Strained a little, not bad. We walked/jogged/shuffled back
to the car. When we got home it was, uh… difficult to get out of the
car? The ice pick was now embedded in the leg and abandoned. A small
voice said, “That was some really dumb-assed running you just did.

The long bulge of swelling on the lower Achilles tendon was tender the next
day. Almost forgotten methods of taping were recalled so I could walk
without pain, almost. I did some stretching, icing, heating, lit a few
incense candles, even mentioned it in the Rosary… all for naught. I
explained all this to the orthoped of the month selection. He was kind
enough to not laugh, but only chuckle when I replied to his question, “What
do you think is wrong?”

“Delayed Onset to Dumb-Arsed Running,” was my reply, “DODAR.”

Explaining why…

Up and around pausing for one more...
Up and around pausing for one more…

Vaguely remembered from somewhere else:

To someone who understands, no explanation is necessary. To someone who does not understand, no amount of explanation will suffice. I had rolled those few words around in my head for the last several miles, first trying to get them in the right order (while not being sure there was something real to recall), then, while on a trail miles from the nearest Google point, trying to attribute them to someone. I could not; then comes the hardest thing to do with a phrase or tune that has settled into the conscious mind while on a run—I tried to forget it until I got home. To someone who…

It had started with “Why are you running?” shouted at me as I was careening down a set of switchbacks surrounded by dense underbrush. I was looking down, concentrating on roots and footing with only minimal glances forward in case there were hikers coming at me. The question broke in on my concentration. I broke stride and looked up to see four alarmed-looking faces, each trying to see up the trail behind me—behind me? “Why are…—behind me? I looked at them. The woman, evidently the one whose shout I had heard, repeated, “Why are you running?”

I stopped. I looked at her and her companions, two of them looking at me, the other one still looking up the trail somewhat apprehensively. “I was running because, uh, well, these are the trails I run on.” “You mean there is nothing chasing you?” Chasing me? Now I looked up the trail. “No, not that I know of, I was just running because these are the trails that I run.” The woman who had first shouted at me resumed the interview by asking, “Aren’t you a little old to be running around alone out here?” Miffed that my latest dose of Grecian Formula 44 was obviously a failure, I nodded agreement and ran on down the trail.

Why was I running? To keep my resting pulse in the forties? To justify the largest shoe rack in the neighborhood? To continue to be able to wear the same size Levis I wore in high school? Because one of these times I am going to do this 10.2-mile (certified, standardized, scrutinized, and stamped) loop without catching a root? It certainly wasn’t because I was training for something—the earliest I might show up at a starting line was October up on Orcas Island, maybe. Why was I running? The reasons and incentives to run are many and varied. I once ran home because Kathy had got back to the trailhead first and drove home, leaving me a note on the hikers’ registration box, “You can make it before dark if you hurry.”

I might be running because I am in the year of my father’s death. There are weak hereditary links between why he died and why I might or might not. One doctor assured me the overall health running gives me had long ago negated any inherited physiological defect. His assurances were couched in just enough medical qualifiers to prevent them being facts. As best I can determine the chances of my keeling over and becoming a search and rescue object are so slim that on a normal day’s run they don’t raise conscious thoughts or cares, and anyway, it would be preferable to watch one last sunset while gasping for breath ‘neath a tree that first broke ground before Columbus weighed anchor than to rest not quite comfortably on the cold tiles of a kitchen floor awaiting the sound of an approaching first-aid kit on wheels.

We actually went out one afternoon because Kathy found one of those calorie calculators and calories-burned-per-mile charts then asked what I was fixing for dinner. Enchiladas. With guacamole? Yes. Sour cream? Yes, and black beans and jasmine rice, too, why? After a few minutes of silence, the reply came, “We need to run twelve miles before dinner.” Oh, why? You counted what? Oh, hmmm, should I mention the mantecaditos? No. No, it is best not to say anything now. Why are you running? Because the almond shortbread cookies (with flaked coconut added), of which I have been known to eat a bowlful with only one glass of milk, are known to beckon at two o’clock in the morning, and I baked 63 of the little rascals just before we left the house.

Mooses! A quick exclamation, a check of the rearview mirror, then hard on the brakes and I pulled off onto the shoulder. We were out of the car and across the road in seconds. Kathy asked where, and I pointed to the left at a small hill we were approaching. We slowed as we got to the skyline, then edged forward to look down at the meadow—noiselessly, we thought, we crept forward. Oh wow! There were two moose calves just below us, next to the creek at the edge of the meadow. One was standing in the water eating grasses along the edge of the creek; the other seemed to be just enjoying the sun. We had been watching for a few minutes when Kathy quietly asked where Mom might be—hmmm, the calves are sort of small looking—Mom? I don’t think she would leave them alone. Mom! Apparently Mom did not think we should be watching her calves and (how did she get that close?) had come to ask us to leave. I recalled that a quiet voice will sometimes soothe animals, so I started talking quietly (Kathy later asked why I chose that moment to start reciting The Charge of the Light Brigade) as we tried to move backward to get some trees between Mom and us. Mom snorted and charged. We turned and ran for the trees. Someone up above will someday tell me how far we ran (a quarter mile and more fer shure), how far Mom ran (probably only a few steps), which animals bet how much on whom that day just south of Yellowstone, on down by Lewis Lake, and how many variations on why we were running were heard that night in the burrows and caves, meadows and creek sides in the Tetons.

The daydreaming that familiar trails allow was broken by the trilling of the ravens that live about a hundred yards in from the end of the pavement. The trailhead was in sight. I could see a runner coming toward me. As we met she smiled and said, “Beautiful day for running.” “Yes,” I replied, “yes, it is, and that’s a good reason to run,” and the thought came back to me, “To someone who understands…”

Run gently out there

Messin’ with Roadies…

A brief recollection of what took place yesterday.

Yellow, green, old barn, old mountains -- on the way to the trails
Yellow, green, old barn, old mountains — on the way to the trails

 

One of my favorite trails...
One of my favorite trails…

The Whidbey Island Marathon was this morning. I wasn’t involved. I hadn’t really even thought about it until…

Two people (one male, one female : opinion, not fact) wearing just about every running accessory laz has never endorsed were discussing something — heatedly or just with great animation, I really don’t know or care — in the Burger King parking lot (near an almost health foodish place).

I was on the way home from staggering around in the woods for however long it had been — had on a t-shirt from a running event I had actually completed (Grasslands down Tejas way, put on by those fine folks at the North Texas Trail Runners ensemble). I suppose I looked like a runner, maybe age and brier scratches, dirt and trail shoes made me look experienced, this is another I-do-not-know moment. Anyway, I got out of the car (remember, I was driving home…); the woman (see assumption #1) looked at me and then at her compatriot and said (why, I will never know), “Ask him!”

Ask me what?… Uh… get back in the car. This will lead to no good. They look harmless. Noooooo, get back in…

Me: Hi, can I help you?
Her: We just finished the Whidbey Island Marathon.
Me: Wow… congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your first?
Him: Yes!
Her: Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Yay!
Her (pointing at the BK): Isn’t a hamburger a good recovery snack?
Me: Uh… yes, if you get the Double Whopper with cheese.
Him (pointing…): But, I….
Her: See.

“I’m just so proud of helping them.

—–Run gently out there—–

Generic Bluff Trail Trip

From Sunnyside Cemetery overlook to the end… and back.
An old familiar friend greets me
An old familiar friend greets me
The Olympics across the strait beyond the prairie
The Olympics across the strait beyond the prairie
Detour down (and back up) to the beach.
Detour down (and back up) to the beach.
Still is...
Still is…
Trees on left, water on right, must be going home
Trees on left, water on right, must be going home
The fallen tree that watches over Parego's Lagoon and shelters small cacti.
The fallen tree that watches over Parego’s Lagoon and shelters small cacti.
Always check for the 'Ghost'
Always check for the ‘Ghost’
One last little up and
One last little up and
Spring plowing is done on the upper prairie -- cabbage?  Beets?  Barley?
Spring plowing is done on the upper prairie — cabbage? Beets? Barley?
Easy landmark for going back
Easy landmark for going back
—–Run gently out there—–

She runs too

Someone asked if I was still running. I said yes. The response, “Well, I never see your name in any results.” I tried to explain I did not feel the need to pay money to run at someone else’s convenience. Then someone asked if my wife runs…

She runs too -- has been for a long time.
She runs too — has been for a long time.

—–Run gently out there—–

Ending with eagles

“What are you watching?”
“Apollo 13.”
“Is it just starting?”
“Yes.”
“I’ll go out when it’s over.”
“You just want to see the slide rule scene.”
*****mindless drivel to test something*****

No, I said inwardly, I just want to see a bunch of people working together, all while in a stressful environment where honesty is more important than any political, cultural, or socioeconomic concerns. It is corny in today’s in-your-face world, but yeah, I suppose that part where successive thumbs-ups from the slide rule scene put the exclamation point on it. We don’t do that very often anymore.

They got back. I went out.

The blockhouse tries to hide the fog
The blockhouse tries to hid e the fog

The mystery of a chilling wind on my (first time this year) bare legs while entering the fog will never be solved with any sort of finality. It the wind is blowing, shouldn’t the fog go away? Shouldn’t it be like your breath on a cold morning and just politely disappear rather than causing some mental plea for a long-forgotten formula of heat transfer, thermodynamics, or mathematics encased in cobwebs?

Something mathematical approaches...
Something mathematical approaches…

A Northern Harrier, wings not moving enough to ruffle feathers, whispers along looking down through the grasses for dinner. I try to ignore it and concentrate on making the fog go away. The harrier dives into the grass at the same time I notice I can see all the way across to the Olympic Mountains. The trail up the bluff awaits.

Up the bluff...
Up the bluff…

Where to turn today? Recovery runs are always full of consternation. I feel good… somewhat. I can only tell the Achilles is still tender if I concentrate on listening to it. I sort of walk/shuffle up to the top–a weak compromise. My intentions to run to the almost-dead tree are compromised when I hear the two big splash sounds. Seal or sea lion? I look in the wrong direction first. By the time I find the ripples from the splash, the cause is gone. Onward to the turnaround tree.

One of several "turnaround" trees we have named
One of several “turnaround” trees we have named

Okay, evaluation time… bleah–actually, everything feels good. Okay… there are no major hills going back, just those four or five thirty- to fifty-yard long things… just slow down and it will be okay. What about the prairie? It is about three quarters of a mile and a gradual climb. Hmmm, okay, just stay above shuffle to the bench; evaluate and maybe “sprint” the last three or four minutes to the car.

Barely up and along prairie's edge to the bench
Barely up and along prairie’s edge to the bench
Where Arlo Guthrie waited?
Where Arlo Guthrie waited?

How, oh how, could twenty-seven minutes of nonstop “somewhere above shuffle” be met with such satisfaction? The reward was spotting three eagles in the tree tops near the parking lot.

Three of them...
Three of them…

I walked around for a couple of minutes… prairie, mountains, trees, eagles, water that moves… I am blessed to live in a place where I love to walk, shuffle, jog, run, or pause.

—– Run gently out there —–