And to think I almost didn’t run today, I thought as I sat among the leaves, stretching my hips and feeling the rare warmth of October sun on my bare arms.
Also, as I stretched my calves on the steps, Damn, my legs look good.
I had my mineralogy midterm this morning. It’s over until next time, thank god. So when I got home around 1, I was feeling pretty mentally drained, like I’d been in a mind-sprint for the last three and a half days. I just wanted to lay in bed with chocolate and my cats and go to sleep. Which I did (minus the chocolate) for an hour or so… but when I woke up, all my energy came rushing in at once and I was out the door in a matter of minutes.
It was a gorgeous afternoon, blue sky and unseasonably warm (probably about 60), which was a pleasant change of pace. I kicked the first mile down relatively fast and just kept feeling good, even once I got on the main trail loop and had to powerhike the one big hill. I’m so glad I’ve learned how to work hard during a run. Don’t get me wrong, easy runs are great, especially for taking in the fall scenery, but cranking out 11 decently-paced miles is much more satisfying and fulfilling. There were more people than I usually see out there (including one of my professors), but the trails loop around enough that I was on my own for most of the time. I did have one encounter with a deer, though. I crested a hill and saw it standing a few meters in front of me, frozen in the middle of the trail. I jogged, then stopped. The deer peered at me. I peered at it. It bobbed its head. I bobbed mine. We had a moment. After maybe two minutes, it snorted and bounded off to the side, breaking the spell. I ran on.
It was the middle of the afternoon – you could read that from the sun’s rays slanting through rows of tall, dark, bare trunks topped by golden canopies far above. Running quietly, efficiently, and alone, I felt insignificant in that special freeing way that comes from spending time reflecting in nature. A few resistant clouds of gnats hug in the still air, haloed in contrast to the dark trees behind them. I use “golden” far too often to describe fall – especially the past few weeks – but it’s the most accurate word I’ve come across for this time of fall, late October when the reds and oranges have mostly quit their branches and only the stalwart yellows still cling on. With the three o’clock sun serving as a backlight and more yellow leaves littering the trail and forest floor, the scene becomes dreamlike, ethereal, as you float through it. The only sign of your presence is the trail of fluttering leaves in your wake. It is the golden hour.
It was probably around this time of the year when I first ran on those trails, because I very clearly remember telling my friend, “It’s like a magical golden forest in here. I expect to see a unicorn around the next corner.” Just surrounded by glowing golden autumn. That’s something I feel I really missed out on last year because I wasn’t running. Not running every day, you miss the little changes in the season. Today, for example, the forest looked different than it did this time last week – you guessed it, more golden. And it looked differently two weeks ago. Running keeps you outside, in tune with nature and the seasons. When I was just lifting in a gym last fall, I felt totally disconnected, like fall had slipped by me without me noticing. Winter was upon me very suddenly. So it’s good to be back in the thick of things this year.
A little over two miles out, I saw a guy enter the main trail a little ways behind me. Once again, my cross country gut reaction kicked in and I held him off for the rest of the way home – which is saying something for the end of an almost 11 mile run. It felt good. I averaged around 8:30s, which is pretty decent for me. I usually fall into the LSD trap even for the not-so-long runs. I’m going to try to run about 10 miles at a decent clip a few days during the week, then do my long run on the weekend. All as long as the shins allow it, of course.
Righto. I’m off to rustle up some grub. I think I have frozen peas, applesauce, and a three-pound bag of raw potatoes. This should be fun.
peace love and gorgeous fall running,