This morning before running I stopped by the Haskell Invitational. It was an October morning with a blustery wind, grey skies, and a chill that seeped through the seems of my jacket. I stuck around for the 9 a.m. race - which seemed to be varsity boys. I love watching the start of CC events when the pack of men or women thunders off of the start and then funnels into a much narrower lane after 100-200 yards. It is exciting to see. It was kind of fun running from place to place to catch the runners as they went by.
By mile 1 some guy from SMNW High School was in first by quite a ways. By mile 3, he was even farther ahead. What was interesting is that 5 or 6 of his teammates were the next 5 or 6 runners. If it wasn't a team sweep, it was about as close as you could get and not have one. SMNW put on a super impressive display. It is rare to see domination like that in a meet.
I left after one race because I was freezing. I went to the Merc and then popped home to knock down a cup of Guyaki Mate before once again leaving the house for the trails. When I got to the trails there was literally no one around. I was 5 miles in and running with only my thoughts to accompany me before I ran into my first cyclist. It was really wonderful.
As is my m.o. lately, I eschewed my Garmin and my mp3 and just ran. I thought about the story I've been working on, dishes to cook, places to visit, and a bit about running. It is wonderful to think about running when I am running. My thoughts this morning centered around my personal dislike of running races, even as I admire and respect the people who do run ultras and cross country. It is a bit of a dichotomy. For me, running is about as close to spirituality as I get. I am usually solo, and usually prefer being so. I'll take my Garmin every now and then and worry about time and distance, but the device seems to somehow taint the experience (as does the mp3 player - which I also use occasionally). When I run, I try not to care. I try not to try. And sometimes, like today, I succeed. Right after the start of the last mile (around 7.5) of the River Trails, there is a mean little hill. It is so mean that I usually am thinking about it for a half mile or so before hitting it. Every now and then I'll just do the fast ultra-runner walk up it (usually not). But today, with about a half mile left to go in the run, I realized I had passed the hill without even noticing it or that which preceded or followed it.
The realization was like a revelation to me of the power of being one with the run. The run flowed through me, and I became part of it, and it part of me. I was so surprised that for the next quarter mile I considered turning around and running that portion again to try to see how different it would feel on this day if I were cognizant of what I was doing. But the approaching finish beckoned, and I decided to forego a repeat simply for repetition's sake.
I never fully warmed up in the run, and even experienced some chills between miles 4 and 6. I wore a hat, gloves, a long sleeve running shirt with a long sleep sweatshirt, and long, light running pants (sort of loose tights - if you'll excuse the oxymoron). I felt as if it should have been enough. I think, perhaps, I got too chilled earlier in the a.m. and never fully warmed up before hitting the trails.
I'm going to follow the weather a bit more closely before setting out tomorrow.