Monday, January 3, 2011

Lung Distance Logs IV e Feliz Ano Nuevo 2011.

A 39 mile week ended 2010, and a wonderful week of running it was.  The sum of total miles for 2010 is lost somewhere in my journal, the thread of addition lost and never replaced, but ten months of running put the last count (in early November) at 1233 miles.  Six weeks of Spring/Early Summer were lost to patellafemoral pain and funk, but most of the year was healthy.  ~1450 miles is an honest estimate for the year's total, and a proud personal accomplishment.

Poverty, Richness and 2011.

The first day of 2011 passed across the pine-needled trails of Poplar Grove Nature Preserve, four miles of joyful smooth running.  After a slammed week of work, with late nights and complex schedules, the noise of holidays, rampant consumer binges, heightened stress and lowered rest, the trails brought spiritual nourishment, brought the freedom and quietude to a still synergy.  The lake was still, fracturing the reflections of winter trees with delicate touches on the surface.  The trail ran easy, my forefeet, ankles and knees, thighs and then the hips finding a good pace-play.  A few sprints peppered the legs and opened the faucets.  A family and a few couples hiked around, dogs lulling behind, and there were two runners talking as they passed.  But most of the run found me alone with my pace, my breath, the vast fields rolling towards the sand dune coast, and a prayer of Gratitude along the clay and grass.  Nothing otherwise to note, except how fully synched Marley’s “Hammer” seemed when I returned to the car.

Sunday the Second was my long run at 15 miles.  The alarm vibrated my pillow at 6h11am and my wife breathed deeply beside.  My legs were curled into my abdomen, a strange sleeping pose, the residual imagery of a dream falling away from my mind, and I lifted my body.  The total act of movement via hips, stomach, shoulders, was like a series of pulleys, with muscles counteracting, such as a crane's motion against a heavy wrecking ball.  Eventually I pulled up my weight.  The coffee was brewed, a cherry yogurt ingested, a Gatorade was mixed, and I pulled on shorts and a brand new singlet for the unseasonably warm morning, tightened my laces.  By 6h55am I was latching back my fence and humming Marley, trying to keep a mellow pace for distance, aiming to hit the sunrise somewhere near the water.

Darkness yielded to fog, which dominated the landscape as I approached the coast, about four miles into the run.  The sunrise was more of a gentle waking of the land, a radiance expanding across the fog and earth.  I turned up Wrightsville and crossed onto Airlie, the prettiest part of the journey with manicured gardens, open fields, red barns and ancient trees.  Airlie was sfumato, suffused by the heavy air, and neither the horses nor their meadows were visible.  Grand oaks reached like burnt bone over the narrow, empty road, their gnarled limbs powering majestic and stark into the fog. An easy drift of thought, a language-sketch of the terrain, continued until I turned the sharp corner into the ICW.  The misted light fell shallow on the glassed waterway, elevated boats caught flattened light on their sides; short piers jutted into the silver intracoastal like terse, poetic afterthoughts. It was a clean and fascinatingly new landscape.

Somewhere around this area was a group of runners, the Wilmington Road Runners, meeting for a group run. I never saw the mass collecting on the road and couldn't remember the address of the meeting, and my hopes of merging with them failed.  Also, I was wearing down, too self-conscious.  Some of the best talent of our area runs with the WRRC, and I am not an impressive runner on any level.  So I crossed the bridge, continuing into the quiet beach morning, and pushed down the bike track onto the coast.  My breath harmonized with the ocean, her choppy white froth, respiring wheezily into the fog.  No surfers, no other pedestrians were visible.  The beach was a milk-wash of fog.  My mind was operating independently of my body, homeostasis like a glide, giving a stream-of-consciousness prayer for the blessings of 2010.  At Johnny Mercer's Pier I pulled back into the loop towards home.  Soon came a mass of runners in three formations, curling off of a side road onto Eastwood, and it was the WRRC, heading the opposite direction and looking fresh as daisies.  Horses galloping.  For a moment I felt pride at sharing the Sunday morning road with these runners, and I kicked as best I could, avoiding narrowly a collision with a few of them who had their heads tucked. The fog was clearing to a strong warm sun, and I finished my run with an okay pace and a positive spirit.

Views of ICW from Airlie Road ~8am.