The wind whipped around something fierce, gusting from the west and making it almost impossible to swallow at times. She was a thin little thing, weighing maybe a buck twenty with shoes, barely an outline of breasts inside her sports bra, though her legs and caboose fairly radiated power.
Her iPod cord was tucked under her shirt. An early-model Garmin adorned her wrist and a white headband trapped stray hairs that pulled out of her short ponytail. She wore sunglasses, shorts and a tank top in obvious hopes that the sun had more staying power than the wind.
She started off stiffly, as though it had been a hard night or maybe she had over-done it at the gym yesterday. Shaking her wrists a few times, she shrugged her shoulders, rotated her head and jiggled her hips. A little loosening was all she needed to bring her back to full form.
She headed up the trail and the wind hit her hard when she crested the hill to the pond. Head ducked against the wind, she gasped; a drop of spittle appeared on her lower lip as she struggled for breath. Warrior that she was, she kept going.
Circling the lake, she crossed the empty street and kept trudging up the hill. Her legs were pistons, never slowing their steady grind up the long incline. Her face was closed in the blowing wind; mouth slightly open, downcast eyes sheltered behind sunglasses, torso leaning forward with steady opposition to the headwind. This hill was stomping grounds for her and even in the wind, her lithe body owned it. Once or twice the wind lessened and she looked around at the deserted open space as though hearing a rustle and trying to locate the culprit.
At the top of the hill she paused for no more than a millisecond, but in that time a war waged inside her head. She was deciding how far to go and the likelihood of wind on the Mesa. The decision would be made shortly, as there was another half mile to go before entering the open space.
She crossed one more street and headed into the nature preserve of Harper Lake. The wind was even worse; now that she was off the lee side of the hill she was fully exposed. She turned to the north and stumbled with the force of the wind. Her running muscles were nothing compared to wind speeds that equaled a weak hurricane. Crossing a bridge, her headband flew off and stuck like glue to the iron railings of the bridge. She pried it loose, wrapped it twice around her wrist, and added the rubber band from her hair. She gave up trying to hold things back and suddenly looked young. A smile floated across her face and softened her features; if the wind and dust weren’t flying, she would have laughed.
By now she was running in the hardest wind yet, and somehow she picked up her pace. Gusts buffeted her and from time to time she drifted from her intended trajectory. She didn’t seem to mind. After circling the lake, she glanced once at Davidson Mesa and turned away.
Instead of running a “lollipop” –running back the way she had come after a full circle around the lake– she headed out onto the street and ran along the sidewalk. She wanted to pound pavement on the return trip. Her shoulder-length hair whipped her face and she stumbled forward as though goosed from behind. Her strides lengthened with every step until she fairly flew down the hill. Her torso was long instead of hunched into the wind, and rotated freely with the force of her pumping arms.
She hugged each turn tightly, a seasoned racer used to making the most out of each step. Descending the hill, the wind lessened and her hair stopped whipping straight up, as though it were being blown from below. A smile played on her face as she pulled a stray hair from where it stuck to her mouth and suddenly she laughed, tilting her face to the sun. In that moment she slowed her pace and stretched her arms wide. Was she receiving the sunshine into her body, or giving the world a sampling of her intense pleasure that came from this early morning run? A few cars passed as she ran against traffic, their drivers huddled in their metal boxes, safe from the elements. She didn’t belong in a car; she was of the elements herself, ecstasy flowing from her windblown hair down to her muscular legs like supple young trees; lithe, strong, and able to withstand the many forces of nature.