Sunday, September 7, 2008

Running in the Lap of the Gods

Yesterday I had one of my best runs in recent memory. Not in terms of time or pace or any of those incidentals, but in terms of sheer enjoyment.

I got to Old Settlers Park at 6am to get in a 6 mile run (6 at 6 - has a ring do it, don't ya think?) before my group arrived. It took me a mile or so to get into a rhythm, but by the time I got out of the park and onto the dark country roads I had relaxed into a leisurely pace and was in the groove. The sky opened up into a mosaic of stars, a seemingly endless cosmic highway, and I enjoyed the feel of the cool early morning (good news folks, Fall is coming). The world seemed to begin and end within the beam of my headlamp - alone with my thoughts I could have been the only person in existence. Just before I reached my turnaround, an armadillo wandered across the road in front of me (I passed him again on the way back), glanced up and then continued his pottering. These are the kind of magical mornings you live for as a runner, when everything comes together just right and running is effortless. Runs like this make me realize how good life really is and I am so grateful to be fit and healthy, and able to be out there doing this. The moral of the story is that there is so much more to running than times and distances. Whatever your pace or ability level, do it for the enjoyment and everything else will just flow.

I got back to the pavilion just as dawn was breaking, dumped off my headlamp, refilled my water, picked up my group and headed back out. I positioned myself in the middle of the group and moved up and down chatting to friends old and new. We took a slightly different route and I stopped at the turnaround to sweep the last runner. I ran with him for a mile or so and then took off and hit the last 2 miles hard.

I got back to the pavilion, socialized a bit and helped do teardown. By then, Nancy had arrived with Gavin so I strapped him into the jogging stroller and we all took off for my third 6 miler of the day. This was a nice easy-paced run and I spent the entire time talking and laughing with Gavin. We pointed out the horses and the cows and he told me all about his hopes to spot elephants and tigers along the way. We had a grand old time - I think I've found my mental equal, and he's 3 years old. I'd promised him that if he was a good boy I'd play on the swings with him when we got back to the park, and sure enough he wanted daddy to chase him. We spent a good 30 to 40 minutes tearing around and playing on the slides. Nancy had brought a picnic (tea and trail mix) which we enjoyed, and we had a lovely time.

So three runs, all different and all super enjoyable in different ways. What a great day. That along with a fast downtown 4 miles this morning made for a great running weekend. Bring it on.

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