Category Archives: running

implacable, delicious, beyond prediction


Oh dear, Another Year

Scene: January 9th in the afternoon, Seattle, train crossing in the industrial district.
How all good things begin – with a lurch, a slightly jarring disruption of flow, noticed or unnoticed.

This morning – just about 12 months later (yes, this is one more summation in the coming deluge of perennial summations), I eclipsed 900 miles of running for the year, third best annual total since a personal record-keeping obsession began eight years ago. Maybe less of a lurch and more stubborn shamble.

Related personal facts of January 9th, each contributing to the idea of how sea changes (like the subtler, unnoticed train crossings) realign our lives each year:
1. A and I still lived on East Helen Street Seattle on January 9th (we were out hunting lampshades that day).
2. Yellow Truck was sidelined and I was truckless, as I would be for three more months, the parts for the engine rebuild on their way from Australia.
3. I had logged 14 miles of running for the year so far, and the plan was to comb Seattle street by street on my runs of 2012, like usual but more deliberately. By May, as it turned out, I was running in another country, the city of destiny – gritty, dogged old T-Town!

Hooray 2012, another good one – implacable, delicious, beyond prediction.

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old lady marsh hawk

Ran into an old lady on my run. I was standing in the road – a crushed asphalt road fronting the marsh – binoculars out, watching a shoveler cruising the reeds of the far shore.
“Can I tell you something?” she said.
“Sure you can.”
Had I ever seen a heron on the road, she asked. A big great blue heron on the road?
I knew the answer. No, I said.
“He was walking up and down,” she said. “Up by the bridge.”
By bridge she meant the wooden footbridge connecting a dirt parking lot with the stadium.
The old lady was walking with a cane, in an old parka and loose pants, a baseball cap. She was watching me out of the corner of her eye as she spoke, and also watching the marsh, relishing her story.
“Then out from under the bridge came three little ones in the water, not a feather between them.” She laughed. “And then the mother came right behind them.”
I’d seen a heron many times in the marsh, I said, but nothing like that. I was thinking how birders seem to be mesmerized by herons in the same way some are by trains or tankers. The thing is just so large. Its largeness is bottomless for them. But this old lady’s story was better of course. Big birds with their tiny young are an impressive, and somewhat rare, sight.
“I’ll keep my eyes out,” I said, aware that the story was over, starting to walk again, readying to break into a run.
“Oh, it’s been a bit now. It’ll be too late,” she said, pleased.

"Can I tell you something?" she asked.

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unfamiliar haiku

unfamiliar haiku

an evening run along the hilltops of the city, familiar houses unfamiliar
the old Amazon building more like a hospital gaping for more night,
feet raw, lungs burning with the cold, shuttered fruit and teriyaki shops

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Runner’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lesson No. 28 – The Diligent Meander

1. Like with a river in a valley, how it bends oxbows, wends, never runs straight
2. How birds lift on thermals, in spirals
3. Like with witches, the way they skip a generation when they pass down their craft
4. How the flicker flies in bursts, seven wingbeats ahead, then rest, dropping torpedo-like, wings folded tight to her bones, then seven more wingbeats, rising and then rest, into the trees
5. How a sailboat tacks with the wind, moving perpendicular to the force that lifts it
6. Like with the wrought-iron fences, old and black, at the Corson Building – balled tips of the iron infill rods between posts at alternating heights – up, down, up down – A B A B A B C –  like a dance, mixing the iron into the sky
7. So with the running, the way with the schedule, you let the air in

During the week, you run hard. You run long. And then slip in some shorter runs.
Or you run short during the week before work. And then long on the weekend.
For a month, you run high mileage. Then a bit less. If you run several successive high mileage months, you have discipline and run short the next. You find your pattern. You let yourself heal despite the hunger for more miles. You are running the distance. For years. You have a good high year. Next year you back if off a little. Then surge again the next. You are heroic. More so than others. You are unquenchable. But also cagey. Fox-like, you persevere. Sometimes craving bad weather to run again, to run with the rain against your face.

You do not want a fence that is every panel the same. You do not bring the same lunch every day. The natural world does not run straight. You integrate the rest and the stillness within movement and through pain and pure joy. You are diligent. You meander. The outside air fills your lungs and lifts your feet.

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