Monday, May 14, 2012

stretching canvas, stretching body, stretching mind. a big pile-up of words.

Massanutten running & a mashup of a May catch-up, mid-april, mountain running, a grand exodus of the familiar, injury and a heel defeated and a run de-footed.   a mention of the yoga gradually stretching into the routine to knead body of jangled knots.

Massanutten is a mountain resort that lays outside Harrisonburg Va, butting up against skyline drive and george washington national park. The mountain looks like a muscular fin, a massive, scalloped jut of limestone and evergreen, anchoring april sky against that lush bucolic landscape of farm and town, quiltwork, dairy stacks, silos.

This area of the Virginia blue ridge is wrapped with miles of trail to include Kaylor's knob, the massanutten trail, the AT, and the many color-blazed trails that Massanutten Resort and the IMBA carve and maintain. Daily trail-play and one road 5k (with my wife on the occasion of the Boston Marathon!) brought a total of 50 miles in four days of running, with three days of running lost to travel. The heat was frying sweat on rocks, lifting finally a storm out of the afternoon scree wednesday, but the heat was detoxifying, energizing. despite my lack of a runner's world physique, it was refreshing to run shirtless in splits and minimal shoes in self-reliant solitude.  it was indian and pure and playful.  minimal intrusion and maximum output.  a judgement free zone of zoning out into a run.

its a minimalist act, a good run. . . . a gel, some food, two handhelds (strong Heed and cold h20), an occasional hoop-whoop chant to avoid startling a bear around a blind turn, and the burning of foot and leg and core and the fade-out of jabber and mind-clutter and false fears.  another body or no other body, music or silence, sky or ocean or mountain or earth, a run can be as simple and raw as one wants. . . . some good old-fashioned trail running across the rockpiled appalachians, where overlooks let vision hang like a hawk in the wind.

The thing, for me, in running a mountain with shallow lungs, with coastal lungs, with ex-smoker's lungs, is the difficulty of climbing. While it is a joyful and rewarding thing, I slow on the uphills, powerhiking, running only what I can. I try not to judge my run, my body, my efforts, or my abilities.  When I do run, it is a pace that  invigorates, focuses, challenges, while maintaining a pleasure in the run itself. To lose the run to the abstract credentials of a runner is the work of thieves. To see a mountain push out of a farm's fields while running a dozen miles is a gorgeous thing, and to work your way back up switchbacks and limestone vertebrae teething out of the spine of a mountain and to peer across vast american space with a turkey taking flight or a deer bounding across splashing leaf to disappear in wooded, dusted siennas. . . . to burn thighs and sole and breath-dried mouth down a mountain, it carries the lithe language of nature back into mind with the fragrances of  animal, evergreen, exertion, sex, spirit, sun-hot rock.  To run a mountain is a constant amazement, an ecstasy of movement coalescing through space.

Now is much resting, stretching, and massaging out the soles of my feet with a roller from where the limestone outcroppings of the mountain trail beat the shit out of them.  My body works into some yoga recently and the body appreciates, my breath, my serenity, appreciates it.  I can feel the openness of my chest, the lengthening of muscle and the engagement of core.  I run with a whole sense of connectivity, feeling the relationship of momentum in my right leg to my left shoulder and elbow and wrist.  I feel the drop of chest across knee during tired moments and I feel the flatness of chest against effort-driven gasp.  I feel a solid body, even with the mileage sinking beneath my hopes.  But ultimately, the numbers are just another layer of abstract credential, a false signifier of joy in an act.


Currently I feel good, healthy, optimistic.  No races, no expectations, just a mindfulness of the current Being I occupy.  A faith in a good orderly direction.  There is even a series of paintings starting in journals and mind-canvases.  There is language forming towards something, there is interest in various things, a passion underlying efforts, and there is a generous love that forms beneath my thoughts in quiet moments.  I am trying to be a good person.  Miles and pigments and language act as armatures of my faith.


To move towards and with something-- to flow with the movement of an energy and commit, that is the freeing key. That is the lesson and the point and the reward. Raw faith. The full-life confidence to be mindfully present, to be engaged, to be kind with a generous love. The kindness to be generous, the love to be kind.

Some days move towards a gradual requital, a denial or a refusal; it is a gradual and unconscious shift. These days are tiring, daunting, cumbersome. To breathe into the act, cycle the work as ocean and muscle and heat. to burn a thing anew. to keep at it and to stay in it, that is the work of the day.  be a movement that gasps into the earth, burning with something fully of a moment and yet ancient, ephemeral, a hymn or a howl. be the fire and blaze.