Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beauty on the Run

I was running back through the inner island trails as I call them, (which are over grown dirt roads that connect to several drainage ponds on the uninhabited middle part of Pleasure Island) past sunset Wednesday evening when I was struck again by the natural beauty of my surroundings. There was just enough daylight left to make out my footing, and the atmosphere had almost a deep purplish grey hue to it, as I made my way back to the asphalt roads. The silhouette of bare deciduous trees ahead, standing apart from the dark, shadowy woods on either side of me made me feel like I was gliding through a painting, hung on some gallery wall, that no one else could see.

Been reading Thomas Merton. He writes about the idea that sometimes works of art, in this case poetry, can touch parts of us deep inside that are beyond our ability to actually communicate in language the feelings evoked. Similar to the mysticism we may feel when in communion through prayer and or meditation with God.  At times like the run on Wednesday I feel like I catch a glimpse into this aesthetic realm...whereby the things around and what is inside of me melt into one. And where conventions such as language begin to fail me...or as Merton would state, we actually dilute the experience through words or symbols.

Monday evening I ran a hard 10 miler on the roads. Want to start incorporating more medium to longer runs, some at a harder pace. Finished reading Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear, who spends an XC season with the University of Colorado and coach Mark Whetmore. Coach Whetmore has his runners do a lot of longer distance runs, and many are at steady state type paces. Plan to run 12 miles on Sunday, which is an additional mile added onto my last long run New Years Day. Idea is to keep adding a mile per week.

Felt pretty good Monday night; finished the run in high 1:13s which pleasantly surprised me. Was a cold and windy night with temperatures in the 30s, and wind chills in the 20s. I wore long pants along with a heavier long sleeve shirt, and a beanie and gloves.  Opened up with the 1st mile in a little over 8 minutes, and wound down through the mid 7s in the middle part of the run, to 7:00-7:10 in the last 2 miles. Controlled, harder effort, but didn't drop the hammer too much in the last third of the run. Want to have something to build off. Enjoyed running on the streets of Carolina Beach in the dark.

Sometimes on nights such as that, I think about the Jack Kerouac novel Dharma Bums where he writes about people like his buddy Japhy Ryder wandering the streets at night in his own esoteric revelries... while the rest of the civilized society eats their dinners in front of the blinking glare of television sets.

Thursday went back to Carolina Beach State Park and hit the trails, and also hit my 'ol hill circuit for the first time in awhile. Did 2 sets of the approximate one mile loop, which encompasses 4 main hills in sand, dirt and leaves. Felt it pretty good on the hills, legs sore in a good way, breathing a bit labored.  Want to start incorporating into a workout once a week. Gradually adding the number of sets, and reducing the time per circuit. Ah, I love a tough running challenge.

The year is just beginning too-

Keep on challenging yourself as well my friends.