Sunday, September 03, 2017

Hood to Coast 2017: First Leg

I am the last runner in Van 1. I’ll be Legs 6, 18, and 30. My first leg is 7.1 miles, easing down the last transition from the mountain into the town of Sandy. I’ve run these legs before and I don’t like this one. Leg 6 is a net -408 elevation, seemingly easy, but it is long, dry, and highway-bound ugly. As you encroach from the mountain into town, its outposts and inposts seem to suggest you are there, almost there, almost there, almost… but you are not fucking there. You are miles from there. You might have surged a little bit to get there, but there you go, you’re still not there.  I've done this before.  

I am anxious through all five of our other Van 1 runners. I am not excited. I am not certain I can complete my leg. The lower part of my Achilles tendon on the inside of my left heel is very tight, and I feel it strain every time I push off. I've known this was a problem. I am certain it will tear. Every foot fall of my 7-mile run, I compensate, making micro-adjustments to how I land, how I thrust, how my ankles rotate, how I bear weight on my hips, on my knees, on both sides of my body. It is exhausting. I can feel the realignment work its way up to the tendons, straining at the top of my quads. I have 10.5 more miles after this, if I even make it through this fucking leg. Let’s just make it through this fucking leg.  

I roll deep into Sandy and come across the first in a string of volunteers.  I hadn't let myself hope, but now I know I'm close:  

"Right at the light, you're almost there"

At the light:

"Stay on the shoulder, just couple hundred yards, almost there"

I runstumble on the graveled shoulder to a cross walk:

"Just across the street, almost there"


"Just down this path to that arch, almost there"

Down the path, under the arch:

"Through that tunnel, take a right.  Almost there!"

Through the fucking tunnel:

"Cross over to that path along the pile of skulls, so close!"

Cross to the path.  Nearby I see lots of relay participants.  I must be close.

"Run along the backstop, don't make eye contact. Almost there!" 

Stagger past the backstop:

"Up this bark-chipy path, around the clubhouse... sooo close!"

Each foot sinks deeper. Hope is extinguished. I never get there. I die, exhaling hot, dry slivers.   

But then I'm there, at the exchange.  I give the bracelet to Runner 7 from Van 2. The Van 1 crew pat me on the back, we load into the van, and drive to someone's house.  We shower, eat, and lay still with our eyes closed. I wouldn't call it sleep. In a few short hours, we’re back on the road.  


Monday, May 08, 2017

A thing for sunshine

The vibe here is low and slow -- windows open, back door propped, flies in and out on a breeze -- we've stepped aside this weekend.  The world goes on.  It's not easy to cultivate respite from the world. Alllll my attempts fail.  But Clark had surgery Friday, for a deviated septum, so we're in an authority imposed retreat.  It really works. I want to hire someone to come over with a clipboard and a vest to tell me sternly that I'm in a time out.   That this and that are not my concern.   That animal pain and animal comfort are the extent of my influence.  That photosynthesizing is paramount.  

Luckily the sun is out.  After this long cold wet dark season, sitting in the sun is a matter of survival. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Finally, a thing like spring

It reached 80ยบ today and was undeniably, objectively, the nicest day of the year. I worked here, then there, and then came home and spent the afternoon sitting on the couch working on STUFF while drifting dog hair tickled across my feet. I felt stiffly bored and humorless, couched deep in my clutter, while outside the Objectively Beautiful Day squandered about, breezing through trees.

But tonight, I’ve got this feeling I’d forgotten or left somewhere a long time ago. I feel like the break-in to a satisfying sad song, like when the tempo surges. It’s such a small thing. All the windows and doors are open. I’ve swept and mopped away the poofs of dog hair. The lights are moody and low. I'm listening to old music, stuff that is seriously sad as fuck, but in a good way because these songs are all said and done. It’s the things that are unsaid and unfinished that cause me grief, but they aren’t here right now.  

It’s my third night in a row retiring with a hot cup of thera-flu in a masquerade of lemon and honey. My only cold of the year hit me last week -- Wednesday night, 8:37pm to be precise. I actually felt the fetal pathogen implant in my sinuses.  It gestated overnight as a single point of pain. Thursday, it spread through my face cavity, down my throat and finally exploded into my lungs and out the top of my head. Thursday night I shivered and sweated into the blankets. I stayed home Friday from my daughter's class field trip, to her very deep and teary disappointment. I slept until noon, then ached around, petting dogs and nudging my coffee cup, shifting in and out of being alive on pulse.

I’m slowly coming into focus again. Chemically induced narco-sleep is helping. Sunshine would probably help. Tomorrow I’ll try to find some.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

I meant to post before the clock ran out on 2016, but maybe it's better this way.  It was a nasty year, we all agree, and maybe it's better left unacknowledged. 2016, you don't exist here. It's good to put you away, 2016, while yet knowing nothing has actually changed as we turn into 2017.


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