It’s Wednesday, and for the second week in a row I ran in the middle of the afternoon. I doubt this will be a trend, much as I’d like to think so; this was more a by-product of a few synchronous glitches in the week’s schedule.
Regardless, I did it. For the second consecutive Wednesday I ran in shorts and a t-shirt. Again, the wind was blowing. Again, my hat blew off. C’est la vie.
As I walked through the grass I noticed a few green blades of grass creeping through the dead stuff. And because my ears weren’t plugged with earphones, I heard a village of birds sorting out a few complaints high in a cottonwood along the greenbelt.
My foot has felt great this past week, and (knock on wood) I think the Plantar Fasciitis is about gone. I tested this theory by wearing the Scott minimalist shoes I bought at the Expo in Sacramento back in December.
For today’s run I headed to my safe haven; Davidson Mesa. The Mesa and I are intimate friends, but I haven’t gone visiting in over a month. This run was long past due.
The snow has all melted, the ground is bare. Buds haven’t pushed out from the naked branches yet, though it feels like it’s only a matter of days. The geese are out in force, though strangely enough, were completely calm as I ran through their midst. Not a single one looked up to acknowledge my intrusion.
My heart rate climbed to runner’s pace within a few seconds of moving before leveling out. Whenever I head to the Mesa I get a good warm-up because I travel uphill for 2-3 miles, depending on the route. Today was a 2-mile warm-up; I felt slow and contemplative, not fast and frenzied.
There are several ways of working the three-mile Davidson Mesa loop into my run, and today I chose the shortest distance. Seven miles was the farthest I wanted to go. This was to be a relaxed, enjoyable visit, nothing else.
As I coasted across McCaslin into the parking lot the wind gusted and made my hat bob a little. I pulled the brim lower on my forehead and tucked my chin. The hat is mine, Mr. Wind, you can’t have it!
The die was cast. I headed west on the northern-most path, parallel to the dog park. From time to time a gust blew from the south across my left shoulder, but it was no match for this 120-pound brute. Even though the sun shone and not a cloud dotted the sky, my skin felt cold.
I got to my favorite part of the run, where the footing becomes slightly more technical and I have to pay attention to each foot strike. I’m missing the mountain trails something fierce right now, but this was as close as I could get today. My heart raced at the thought of flying down Bluestem but I quickly shut it out of my mind. Don’t get out of your head. Stay right here and plant each foot. Can’t risk a turned foot, not now, not after coming back from injury.
Back on the main trail that looks like a well-maintained one-lane dirt road, I settled into my pace again. Every once in a while I looked up from the ground in front of me, but then the wind would get its long skinny fingers on the brim of my hat and give it a tug. Eyes on the trail, lost in thought, the miles ticked by.
On the most westerly side of the Mesa I swear there’s an energy vortex. The trail turns south and there’s a slight incline. A prairie dog village lies to the east of the trail and is usually a hub of activity, but it was strangely silent today. As I entered the energy vortex my emotions started swirling around and there was a complete release as my legs churned their metronomic rhythm.
By the time the trail hairpinned west and then cut directly east, the swirl of energy had dissipated. I was free again. The trail dipped and turned and I ran and moved and interspersed intervals into my joyous appreciation of the moment.
The sun now shone behind me and my shadow stretched out ahead. My shadow-arms swung and my rib cage expanded and contracted. Twice I inhaled big breaths and let them out to see the rise and fall of my shoulders. With my ponytail sticking out of the hole in the back of my hat, my shadow-neck looked long and lean as it flowed along the ground in front of me.
Mr. Wind assaulted me from the front, snaked his long fingers onto my hat and caught it, flipping the hat effortlessly from my head. It toppled backwards and slipped down my ponytail. Backtracking, I picked it up and secured it onto my head again while wishing for a dab of superglue to hold it in place.
Two ladies and their furry companions came into sight. They saw me and looked surprised. I knew immediately what they were thinking; they were dressed in pants, coats and winter hats… what’s this fool of a girl doing in a t-shirt and shorts?
Yeah, well… I got nothin’ but hope. Hope for warm weather, hope for the kiss of the sun on my bare arms, hope for a breath of spring’s promise.
At the parking lot I looked both ways and gauged my chances of beating the on-coming cars; I sprinted across two lanes and coasted to the other side. Ah, that felt GOOD.
The last two miles home were an easy downhill. I gave myself a few pick-ups to test the hamstring, and daydreamed about doing speed work and track workouts.
I needed this today. I needed to get outside and breathe the fresh air, feel my heart pound sure and strong inside my chest, and feel the possibility that Spring holds.