Saturday, March 3, 2012

Run for Ray 2012 and a nocturne.

i. 13 miles among friends and family, kyote's third birthday, the woods.  The collective aspects.

Run for Ray Trail Race is an absolute hoot, a grand gallivant of a mud-romp, and it's continued growth is a testament to the fun of running through the woods. Three options of distance, 3m 6m and 13m, brought a total of around 280 folks, with all the familiar faces organizing and maintaining things, keeping a smooth flow in the mass, keeping the cause in mind, keeping the vibe respectful of it's roots of charity. Mo, Mincher, B. Brandon, the Underhill family, the volunteers, all were magnificent- many thanks to those who assisted the race's fourth annual success.

The 5k was fast, the 10k was fast, and the 13 miler kicked super-quick with Clifford, Hatchell, Hustrulid, MA Smith, and many other local talents tearing up the course. I passed much of the run solo, sometimes isolated, but I kept falling back in queue to see runners ahead and behind. It was a great race, and half of a great race is a great course. . . the grand ol' trail.

The trails at Brunswick Nature Park unravel by the sleepy marshes and the black tar of town creek. Into the woods the black and red clays cut, leaning into electric tower swaths of land and striding by waterlilied ponds, cat tails, mountain bike paths. The trails for the 13 miler are mostly narrow single track, interspersed with a few fast shoots of gravel road spineing the park. Some trail sections are older and smooth, deeply grooved into the earth, but most of the trails are new, engineered and labored by SORBA and Coastal Land Trust volunteers. Puddles were frequent and feet were wet. Sections twist and carve into sandhill with switchbacks and serpentine modulations across banks of longleaf pine, hardwood. After two laps on the more familiar singletrack, runners were flagged (or bodyblocked, but that's a different story) into a new section of trail composed mostly of spongy, freshly upturned soil/sand, a few mudslide berms, and a fine drift through new land. This section went on for about 1.5 miles before it cut back into the gravel road to the sidewinder trail to bring the mileage home. The top runners finished in the 1h30m range, and they were all salty smiles and easy postures and kind words as I came through the finish chute. A positive group populates this race and that's why it's my favorite local event.

ii.  the personal.

Run for Ray, the inaugural 2009 shot, was my first trail race.  It was a 10k across blue clay mtb trails, cold and all new and balling with a bit of blood and a lot of endorphins.  I was immediately addicted.  The R4R still serves as an annual benchmark, and I'm proud of my performances and progress as a runner, glad for my continued enjoyment in running the woods. My gratitude is deep to have found trail running to pull my body out of the destructive habits.
2012 has kept my knee runnable and the trail felt solid beneath my strongest efforts. Kyote turned three years old while throwing rocks into mud puddles and running alongside people that choose healthy forms of recreation. Time on trails, time with family, birthday pizza and jokes, then a good shift at work: it all adds up to a good day.
It's what trail running is all about, communion and community.  The burning of body as it passes along earth, invigorated and enthralled, searching a larger concept, a larger sense of boundary, a deeper confidence, an expansion of self and self-image.  Pursuit of a coordination, a synchronicity, an alignment with something higher than oneself.  A kindness that is accomplished by good, healthy work. I'm not preaching, but most trail runs feel like a Sunday morning to me.

Hope to see you out there next year.

iii. rest.

Nocturne on a surly, a dozen miles deep on a february night, thinblade moon slicing clouds in a starless blanket of silver fray, run for ray 13 miler still detoxing outta bones but a mellow sway of a bicycle is the right medicine for right now.  quiet wilmington night under the buzz of street lights and the gravelly roll of tires.

Meanwhile its a stomach stuffed with good foods but a mind stuffed with miscellaneous, with noise and clutter, fragmented idea, lost lyrics of song, family concerns, work stress, body aches. . . the norm. for now, fresh air and the quiet clicking of geared pedals, a rejuvenation, a pause; the simple slow cadence. in pursuit of a decrescendo of the cacophony.  the work to soothe before a few paragraphs of dos passos and sleep.  sometimes you just have to bow out for a moment, collect yourself, exhale the stale light.