Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where's your nose?

I've noticed a disturbing trend over the last few months.

Noses are disappearing.

Since September 19th, 1982, the proper emoticon for a smile has been, and I quote:

Sad face? :-(

Sometime this year, or maybe last year, it became in vogue to omit the nose, producing the frankly disturbing looking :)

Or worse, the wrong way (:  <---- is="" p="" that="" wtf="">
Looks like a frog on acid to me.

I feel compelled to start my next sentence with "These kids today…" but I'm resisting.

Still, it's the same people you text "ur" instead of, or because they don't know the correct word/contraction for "you're" that are skipping the noble nose that makes a smiley friendly. And less creepy.

And how on earth do you neglect the carrot nose?  :^)

Or the clown nose? :O)

Let alone the clown with glasses and a party hat? *<8o p="">
How can you stick your tongue out at someone without the nose?

:P just doesn't cut it.

:-P works.

If you type "ain't", or "ur", "bff", "luv", or "cuz", well, do what you will.

If you have any respect for decency and yourself, stand up for the proper, classic, old-f'in-school smiley. Keep the nose.


Good running,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

McCormick's Creek Snowy Run

Anybody can run on a trail.

Seriously, you should try it.

Same goes for running in snow. It's easy, and peaceful, and uplifting.

But running a snowy trail is not for the timid.

Running an unfamiliar trail with 4 inches of virgin powder is not for the sensical.

Nonetheless, that was what I put in front of myself on Saturday. And it was glorious!

You know you're in for an adventure when you're standing at the trailhead and you can't make out the trail. At all. None of it.

The only time I'd been to McCormick's Creek state park was a month earlier for a 5K trail run. The only advantage that gave me was that I knew roughly in what direction the trail went from where I was standing. Roughly. Not really much advantage at all as it turned out.

I set off in the general direction and found myself almost instantly puffing like an asthmatic steam locomotive. The snow, as well as the thin layer of ice just beneath the snow, made footing… let's say... less than perfect.

My legs where churning away at a 7:45 pace, but the rest of me was moving through the artisticly snow-dappled landscape at about 9:00. It was like running on cold snot. That had been poured onto an oil slick. And sprayed with Pam®.

As my lungs wheezed and my heart threatened to leap out of my mouth, I trudged on, spurred my the simply unbelievably, impossibly beautiful scenery that surrounded me.

Eventually I found my breath, my heart and I negotiated a truce, and together we came to the boulder field pictured above. What isn't pictured is the shear drop to the left, down to the eponymous creek. You also can't really get an appreciation for how damn slippery and big and scary these mothers were.

But what you can see, clearly, is the lack of foot prints. Even the wild game had stayed clear of here.

That, my dear readers, is a siren song that cannot be ignored.

I'm not going to pretend I ran over these. I didn't scamper like I might have in the dry. It was slow, deliberate, careful. But it was thrilling, and dangerous, and reminded me, under most certain terms, that I was alive!

Further I found my way down, way way down, to the creek. The babble of an icy stream, bordered by ice, then snow, is pure magic. My phone died just after this pic, which was actually a blessing, for me. Not so much for my dear readers. But for me, I didn't need to figure out how to capture the wonder that was in front of me. I got to soak it in.

I meandered along the water's edge, over wide, flat spring sheds, over and among massive river rocks. I crossed the creek several times, scheming to find footholds among scattered, rocking, snow-covered rocks, not once dipping even a toe in the icy current.

And several times I just stopped, watch running, to listen… to smell… to feel the cold, the wind, the aloneness, the presence of nothing and everything.

I'm never as much at peace as I am deep in some woods, hopefully by some running water, and more hopefully far away from other humans, half-way into a run.

Muscles warm, mind clear, a bead of sweat running down from my temple… this is my church.

I encourage you to explore the natural world. Shun the treadmill, it is evil. Get out into your world. It is so much better than Sports Center and Oprah.

Don't fear the cold, embrace it! Return to nature and let it replenish you.

Good running,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Clean Slate

After finishing a masterpiece, even Van Gogh, eventually, had to sit down in front of a new canvas, and start the next painting, the next masterpiece, hoping this would be the one that would make him immortal.

A clean slate can feel liberating. Or it can freeze you up solid.

There's good. There's great. And there's perfection. Humans seeking their best selves strive for perfection.

When you've been thisclose to perfect, it would be easy to walk away. How intimidating it must be to have to follow up something brilliant, but not perfect. To have no choice but to try again.

And if you do have the courage to try again, the familiar path, the one that got you so close, must seem so appealing, even natural, with the idea that a tweak here or there will push you to the next level this time.

Another painting of haystacks... more of them this time. Or maybe fewer. Taking the path so well traveled, yet littered with not-quite-perfect, is so easy. Falling back to familiar habits is insanely hard to resist.

Striking out in a new direction is terrifying, and can seem, frankly, stupid.

"Let's try swirling starlight this time instead of haystacks.", said Vinnie.

"Are you nuts?" his brother screamed. "Why risk something so different? How do you know this will even work? How can you ignore the haystacks that have brought you so much success when you've come so close?"

What his brother should have said was, "Yes! Yes!! Screw the haystacks!! You can't keep repeating what isn't getting you to your absolute best?"

We need to trust ourselves, our talent, our intuition, to guide us to our best self?

The clean slate isn't really clean if you project a pattern from the past onto it before you even start.

Wipe that mutha clean!

I have a couple clean slates in my life right now. One of them is my running.

After months of trying to train, retrain, rebuild, reconnect with the best version of myself by repeating the training patterns that I'd used before, I've wiped that slate clean. Now, I'm running when I can, as far as I have time and strength for, and at whatever pace my body is telling me it is ready for.

Monday it was just 2 miles, but a hard, vigorous, rousing, and quick 2 miles. Saturday before, a lazy 3.

No plan. No expectations. Just whatever works. That day. And I am feeling great. It's been a long time since I've felt great about my running. But that's what a clean slate can do for you.

The other slate that's been wiped (recently, sorrowfully, painfully) clean is my personal life. A lot more tricky, that one. Not sure what to do, what heading to take. I've frozen.

I imagine I will be staring that this empty canvas for quite some time. But, I can tell you one thing, my dear, faithful readers… I'm not stopping short of anything less than my Starry Night.

Good running,

Respectfully in homage to DA, to whom I owe so much. You will always be so, so special to me, and you will very soon be one lucky person's Starry Night. You deserve nothing less.