Friday, January 7, 2011

Two running narratives. . . legs & language.


Thursday morning at Carolina Beach State Park, a gray coolness, a faint sun, hidden & dull behind clouds; a winter run on a winter day.
Ky and Kas left and I finished my coffee and a muffin.  Pulling into shorts and a warm top, I plugged in some Antibalas and faded into a strange sadness while driving to the park, a heavy gravity that I can only correlate to a family member’s surgery (achilles tendonitis). . . . maybe the winter funk that ebbs and flows like a collective melancholy is to blame.
The park was quiet in a flat lusterless light as clouds rolled in on cooler temperatures.  Rare sun moments layered the winterscape on mostly empty trails as my legs pumped across the blue blaze that connects the main office with Sugarloaf Trail. The sand was thick with strong, wet grips yanking at my shoes, shins splashed in cold mud as I stomped through puddles collected from the earlier rain.   The mood and conditions were challenging the very idea of the run.  The trees seemed dwarfed, brittle, elderly, hanging in the air like black smoke burning off of the ashen coals of the exposed sand. An inevitable eventuality, the state of the trees.  Eventually, slowly, my legs loosened and my eyes relaxed into the landscape.  An interesting pale, spongy moss sprouted along the side of the path, and looked for evidence of pitcher plants or venus fly traps (which I believe are warm-weather perennials). My ears zoned into the morning stillness and the cool air sizzled in my lungs and face.  A few dead ends forced abrupt turnarounds, but I allowed myself to run in new directions and follow sand roads and unmarked trails, trying to experience something organic, unmeasured, wild.   Something fresh and open, like a moving satori.  But mostly I found myself running, just running, the hoof-digs pulsing against strained breath, thoughts dispersed and fractured.  Sugarloaf was a nice reprieve though something nostalgic filtered the landscape, remembering states passed in which I viewed that landscape.  The sand mountain.  The poetic dynamics in the act of Erosion.  I looped the trail a couple more times to add up to seven miles, hitting no brilliant times nor any exceptional insights.  Ultimately, just a run, the work of the run, and sometimes that’s enough, and sometimes it is not.


A run at the beach. . . . today was a good run at the coast, returning to one of my favorite seven mile out-and-backs, from Landfall to the Loop including Summer Rest Trail on both legs.  I ran with my lungs open and my mind reeling, avoiding pace concerns, avoiding expectations, and trying to be engaged in my run.  Few people were out on the sidewalks and roads, though Starbucks was packed with folks. WB park was vacant. Two ducks were busy searching for fish, diving beneath the bridges, and they were amusing and serious.  Pelicans pushed heavy beaks into the wind above a choppy ocean chewing the shore.  A moment of sadness descended as I passed the shell of the retirement home, recently closed, along Summer Rest road.  The sun brightened as I sprinted my way to end the 52 minute run at a 7.2 minute pace before a two mile walk with my very grateful dog and some GlobeTrekker on public television.

What was I doing one year ago?  I was starting this blog.