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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Down to the river and through the woods

I woke up to below zero windchills... the dogs needed outside and I needed 6 miles. I am thankful that a long run is not on the schedule today. I see the gentle blanket of white and search for skin covering accessories.

Dogs put up, me zipped up and shoes laced up, I head to the hills.

The plan is to get out on the trail network in the backyard. I have been feeling a little run down the last few days but have not adjusted my training. This is a new cycle and the fatigue is to be expected. General soreness is there too, but nothing acute or chronic to raise worry.

My feet land softly, silenty on the Earth. A stride that is determined to move forward in concert with the terrain, forcing nothing. Across the christmas tree farm and beyond the tree where my wife and I were married. Down through a cow pasture and into a thick grove of old pine. I see an adolescent deer bound away. She is the only living creature I will see for these fifty minutes. After a small hill and a slalom through the pines I am descending into an old homestead. All that remains today is the home's chimney and the barn. This was comfort to some family long ago. I am running along their private road, wide enough for two horses and a small wagon. Cresting into a snowy field I can hear the river roaring a half mile away. I set my mind to the turning point and reach it soon enough. The path was riddled with paw prints from Jack out neighbor dog. He must have beat me out here this morning. I pause at the river for a short time. Ice is everywhere. Large sheets have been cracked and floated ashore. The swell and retreat of the river's volume has created this scene of beauty and danger. This is the edge.

I turn for home. It is all uphill back up the river valley and I am catching my footfalls from minutes earlier. My breathe finds its cadence and my stride is efficient. This time spent so strangely makes perfect sense. Not long ago I wondered why. The dreams of setting world records for land speed have long faded and this idea got into me that without competing for a team there was really no need for all this time and energy to be put into this activity. I could be home. I could be with my wife. So, 25 pounds later I had done just that. What I learned is that this is what I do. 20 miles a week, 40 miles a week or 80... this is what I do. The time spent running has great value now and for the future. Balance includes time for our own self.

I reach the front yard via the Dragon Trail. Aster and Lilly are wagging away, bellowing to be let into the warmth... and probably for breakfast. I greet them. Goliath runs around the corner and bumps into me. He dives into the fresh snow and rolls around on his back. He is making Goliath- Angels... all 95 punds of him. I open the front door and the pups dash inside. While they eat their breakfast I drink a hot pot of coffee and think about how simple happiness is.

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