Running is a prayer. It’s the time I commune with the Great Spirit that is within and throughout all things. You can call it what you want God/Goddess, the Universe, but if you know what I’m talking about you know what I mean, it’s all the same big wonderful spirit soup.
The most mystical of runs often have humble beginnings. They are usually the outings I don’t think too much of. This Saturday i was too lazy to get up early and lug it out to the trail so the dog and I stayed in town to get our miles in. Possibly boring but at least we’ll get it done.
The weather is perfect. Slightly warm, sunny and still. Zoe and her dog aggression issues seem to be getting better, which is a point to rejoice over. We pass a few dogs with almost no nervous tension. This has been a big battle for us. She used to love to play with other dogs and then suddenly she didn’t like them anymore.
We try to find nature where we can on these runs in town. There’s a little corner park where you can go down to the creek. I let Zoe off the lead to splash in the water and cool off. A few blocks on the sidewalk turns to a pleasant, shaded dirt path alongside the road. I take these dirt paths as far and as often as I can. We head uphill along one of these paths on a pleasant shaded street.
The pace is leisurely but my mind is racing. Storms are brewing at work and there are battles that I just can’t win and have already lost. At this late point in my life I’m craving a career change but I’m stopped in my tracks by the enormity of such an undertaking. My mind has been going ‘round and ‘round in circles on this and there’s no solution. It has depressed me for some time now. I wish I could just retire.
We come to a hairpin in the road and Zoe is visibly happy about it. She’s not a climbing dog…she’d rather bomb the downhills. We turn the hairpin and start descending. About 20 feet on Zoe starts slowing . She keeps craning her head around to look behind us. I turn to discover that we are being followed.
It is a lovely young doe. She is small but obviously very healthy with a rich light brown coat the color of teakwood. She stops when we stop and pricks her large teardrop shaped ears forward. She’s at attention, but in no way nervous. Curious she is. She takes a few steps towards us.
Zoe obediently sits on my command and remains calm. It’s someone with even bigger ears than hers! She watches us and switches her ears lightly as I talk to her. She steps a few more steps forward on impossibly dainty hooves.
We stay like this for several minutes. I eventually break the strange bond that we’ve formed and move to run off. The deer looks at us for a few moments and then slowly turns and saunters uphill in the opposite direction.
I wonder what she was thinking of us, what her impressions were. I’ll run here again soon and see if we meet again.
I smile the rest of the way home from such a gift. I feel that our encounter had some sort of meaning, that in due time I’ll discover. Such a timid, wild creature in town and curious and trusting of me and my beast. She appeared at my lowest mental point and put a little magic into my morning. I’m looking to connect the dots and when I do maybe the answers I’ve been looking for will become obvious.
I’ve been thinking about the passing of Micah True, the hows and mostly the whys. I’ve noticed that there are people with a mission, and then when that mission is almost complete and on it’s way these messengers leave us, their work in setting the fire complete.
I knew that there would be inevitable discussion about his untimely passing and as always, did ultra running have anything to do with it. I knew that this was coming. Every time a runner dies an early death this same discussion (with very little merit or basis) boomerangs back again. The un-athletic quote it smugly to the runners, and some runners are left questioning their routines, and for some the core of their beings and their daily prayer.
I’m not paying attention to this replayed story anymore. From everything I’ve seen running (and sometimes LOTS of it) improves lives in so many ways. I watched a neighborhood “fat guy” lose about 80 lbs and gain a huge smile. I get my best ideas and soothe my anxieties while running. It’s a better addiction for you than smoking or drinking…and for many people it’s replaced them.
I think that sometimes people just die younger than others and maybe there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe it will be you, or maybe it will be me.
Maybe that’s all that we get.
Who’s to say we are all owed 85-95 years? Maybe there’s NOTHING you can do to ultimately change your end date. How does that change your thinking? (Though I’d hope that you’d keep trying to be healthy for as long as you got left, be it a day, or half a century.)
And this is really what we have to deal with. Did you really live? Or were you waiting for retirement to have that big adventure? Were you doing just what you wanted to do? Micah’s life may have been shorter than others but you can bet your trail shoes that it was a wide, deep and crazy-rich life. I don’t think he had many regrets. And with his passing, I asked myself if I would have any regrets right now. Yes I would, a lot. There’s so much I’ve been afraid to do (for no good reason) so much procrastination. If this is all that I got it would be an unfinished story. And I’d be pretty embarrassed that I squandered this incarnation.
So if all I get is 50 or 60 I’m going to fill it up. There’s never any time to waste. Even if I’m lucky to make it to a healthy 100, I still have no time to waste. Neither do you.
Get busy livin’.
See our new addition, aptly named Funky Jane. Im loving the ability to go everywhere .
Today I’m pleasantly sore. I have that mild soreness that tells you you’ve accomplished something in your run, that you have made a step up, that tomorrow you’ll be more fit than you were the day before.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Warm, brilliantly bright and with none of the wind that we usually get from the ocean. I did an early morning run with the dog and girls, only 2 miles, the last of which was mostly walking as the girls are still small and they pooped out. Then I set up my hydration pack and headed up to Huddart Park.
Huddart Park is a large open space with many miles of trails that connect to other large open spaces up on the ridgeline of the peninsula. It is filled with cool redwood forests, perfect for a hot day’s run. The lower slopes also have scrubby California oak forests and some grasslands. But up high, it’s full of towering redwoods with a verdant green understory of ferns, spring flowers like purple iris and sky blue forget-me-nots. Redwood forests also provide the best running trails imaginable. Few surface roots with a soft and loamy dirt created from generations of redwood pine needle decomposition. Perfect after a week of running in town.
Upon arrival I was surprised by the state of the parking lot. It was virtually empty! How could that be on a day like this? And I was getting a late start due to my pre-run run. I’m continually amazed by how few people take advantage of these beautiful places that are so nearby. I suppose they are all in town, shopping and adding more stuff to their houses, the modern pastime. I find that I have less and less in common with my neighbors.
As I started out I gave a silent thanks to the Great Spirit for the beautiful day and everything I have. And for the opportunity and ability to run in this beautiful place. The trail I typically take switchbacks out of the camping/parking area through dense second-growth redwoods down to a creek crossing (I think it’s a tributary to Union Creek further on below). This trail, Crystal Springs then switchbacks relentlessly up through alternating California oak and redwood forests to the top of the ridgeline near Skyline Blvd. There’s about 3 miles of never-ending up to get to the top.
At the ridgeline I eat a gel and snap a few photos with my phone. I follow the connecter trail that takes me to Skyline Trail. You can take Skyline Trail 5.7 miles south to connect up with gorgeous Wunderlich Park (another one of my favorites). But I’m not in that kind of shape yet. I do a few miles down this trail and then double back. Along the way I encounter a large patch of forget-me-knots in a clearing surrounding a spot in the trail. I stop and tear up a bit. My grandmother loved these flowers and always had a riotous patch of these happy sky blue flowers in her gardens. Every time I see them I think of her and I feel that somewhere she’s watching me. Maybe it’s her way to say hi.
There’s also a lovely series of pools and waterfalls along the creek that boarders Skyline trail. Next time I might stop to dip a toe in!