It really feels like Spring this week. The temps are in the 50’s and 60’s, and the Chinook winds have arrived.
I met my husband for a mid-afternoon run-date on Wednesday. It was one of those times when our schedules magically coincided and we got to have face-time in the light of day. We took advantage of it by running a trail that we knew would be free of ice and snow. The sun was bright, the sky was a brilliant blue, and we slathered on the sunscreen because our faces, arms and legs were completely exposed for the first time in months.
Let me be crystal clear; the sunshine was so warm on my bare arms, and it was SIXTY-EIGHT DEGREES. On February 16, in Boulder, Colorado! It hasn’t been that warm since, but it was a welcome reprieve from the -10 to -20 degree cold we’ve had lately.
We started out at a slow, conversational pace. Bill wore his Vibram Five Finger shoes. He’s worn these before, but always for 3-4 miles, max. This run would stretch the endurance of the delicate skin on his feet that hasn’t calloused over yet.
Our weeks have been so busy that we haven’t had the face-time that we need to feel really connected, so even though words were flying out of our mouths, it was more of a Factual Recitation than a Conversation. We were filling each other in on the events of our individual lives, rather than reflecting and conversing. I think Factual Recitations have to happen though, before people can sink into that relaxed place where they can take more in. This is excruciatingly true in my life; I have to expel things before I can be receptive. There’s only so much room at the inn for input.
After I purged my words, Bill talked about a news story he had just heard that morning on NPR. Bolivia just passed a law stating that circus’ can no longer use animals in their shows, because the animals have suffered mis-treatment at the hands of their handlers. Thus, a Wildlife Preserve in Keenseburg, Colorado will be the new home to twenty-five lions.
After he told me about this, he paused and reflected. “You know,” he said, “ever since I stopped listening to sports radio in the car all the time and switched over to NPR, I feel more connected to the world. I would have missed out on so many things if I were still listening to sports news.”
A big stupid grin ate up my face. He’s venturing into uncharted territory with his running, how he spends his time, and he’s willing to try something new. He’s getting out of his comfort zone in his personal life and it’s showing in the new dedication he has to his fitness, as well as the way that he connects with people socially. Maybe he did this for himself, but I’m a lucky recipient of this grand experiment.
The trail was clear of ice all the way to the underpass, where the last remnants clung to the dank shadows of the ground. I slowed to a walk and picked my way onto the concrete, where I picked up pace again. We were still running easily, though pushing through the headwind.
As we passed a field of cows where a farmer was leveling out a gigantic mud-patch with his tractor, a black lump next to the fence caught my eye. It was a calf, curled up next to the fence taking a little siesta in the warm afternoon sunshine. I petted his/her little nose and fluttered his/her little ears. He/she barely opened its eyes to acknowledge me. The black fur was warm to the touch, and I had the urge to curl up next to the baby cow as if it were a dog stretched out in front of a fireplace. Another runner noticed the baby and stopped to scratch its nose before continuing her journey, too.
The mountains had that glorious look of melt. Snow was still tucked into the shadows of the crags and ravines, but the rock faces had resumed their true rocky colors. The fields are still dead and yellow, but the warm wind promised a quickening of earth-energy.
By mile three Bill had developed a good-sized blister on the bottom of his big toe. He examined it and declared that he was fine, let’s keep running.
My muscles were finally warm, and the easy pace had loosened any tightness in my hamstrings. After touching the gate on Marshall Road (you have to touch the gate for the run to count) we turned around and headed back.
Bobolink has a very slight downhill grade on the return to the trailhead on Baseline and Cherryvale, and we took advantage of the grade by dumping a few seconds from our pace without exerting any extra energy. I commented to Bill that it feels good to be recovering from injury; I can enjoy the slower pace that I have, and marvel at the faster pace I naturally sit at when I’m 100%. This running thing allows me to have compassion for my body in all kinds of situations, and I really like that.
The mushy dirt felt good under my trail shoes, and I gloried in the warmth like a bee enjoying the first warm day of spring. The air felt good, smelled good, tasted good, and the sun warmed cold muscles that had felt frozen into permanent contraction.
We ran back through the underpass and I checked the Garmin; we had dumped another 15 seconds from our pace through sheer movement and warmth. We were down into the 8:45/mile range now, and my body felt loose and light.
When the Garmin chimed at the 6-mile mark I sprinted the last half-mile to the trailhead. Bill was in front of me; at a wide place on the single-track trail I passed him. He called out some unintelligible words of encouragement as I flew along, feeling my feet pound the soft dirt and my arms swing close to my body.
It hasn’t been 68 degrees since then, and I doubt we’ll get there again for several weeks at least. It was a promise of good things to come. That’s okay, I can wait.