running (42)

Running, paddling…

I’m back in a running groove for the first time in 8 or so years. It’s taken about 5 months, 3 times a week, to slowly get the machinery working and circuits and plumbing opened up. I can cruise, I can run 8-9 miles, and the mountain has never been more beautiful than right now. My tempestuous affair with running is on an upswing. It’s good to be on the trails again.

Yesterday I took my Joe Bark racing paddleboard out in the lagoon. At certain tides, there is a winding 1- or 2-mile long channel that I paddle through. It’s 20-30 feet wide, mud bottom, pickleweed growing on mudflats, birds abundant. It was a quiet day, overcsst, kind of warm, and the water was glassy like a mirror, but with bits of foam from the incoming tide. I’d paddle hard for a while, and there’d be a spray about a foot long on either side of the nose, like a slow speedboat. This thing skims across the water. I crept up on a beautiful egret. A few days before I’d been watching a flock of terns on a mudflat when two of them took off and flew together in perfect unison, diving, climbing, soaring, an aerial dance, the pair joyous with synchronization…how do they know to both take a right turn at exactly the same moment? In the book Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon described starlings or some such birds in a huge flock, and how they all turned at the same time as if the group were a collective intelligence…

Above photo, taken 10 minutes ago, of divider strip on Columbus Street, outside Cafe Roma, North Beach, San Francisco

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Stormy Night Run/Flashlight Fails

Three of us took off about 6:30 last night, heading up the cliff-climbing trail south of Muir Beach. We’ve had a wonderful 5 or so inches of rain the last 4 days with powerful storms roaring in from the Pacific, The night was clear, but the next storm was hovering, so the air was supercharged. Up at “my” point, a finger of cliff aimed at San Francisco across the water, the wind was howling. A thousand feet down to boiling foaming crashing waves on rocks. My chi meter was maxxing out. Talk about feeling good!

I was dawdling and my two friends went on ahead and of course my light goes out when I’m still a mile and a half from the inn. There was a 1/4 moon and barely enough light for me to stumble along the trail. I got into it after a while, my eyesight sharpened and pretended I was a coyote; they don’t have no stinkin lights! It was kind of a thrilling experience, what with the storm energy, negative ions — and lucky, because if the clouds had covered the moon I ‘d have been on a cold hillside on a black night with no idea of direction home. My guiding spirits pulled me through (once again, thanks guys!) and I made it to my truck and warm clothes, pint of Guinness and the lads at a candle-lit table at the pub.

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Freezing Run in Rain

As I took off on my weekly coastal run last night at 6:30, it was pelting a little rain. I was wearing my Maxit® tights and long-sleeved shirt, and a knitted hemp hat. This outfit has worked for me for years. Even tho it’s cold starting, I always get warm after 10-15 minutes of running. Last night I got up to one of “my spots,” a finger-like ridge of land that you can walk out on; It’s maybe 30′ across, with crashing waves on the rocks 500′ below on both sides. You stand out on the end facing southeast and the Ocean beach side of San Francisco, it’s like being on the prow of a ship. Last night the storm was coming in from the south and the air was perfumed with ozone and ocean essence.

I took off on the rest of the run, climbing up a fire road, light off because moon was full behind clouds. Every so often one of those little mice-hunting owls would float across the road in silent grace. It took about 20 minutes to get to the crest of the hill and I turned around to run back. By now the rain was increasing, and the drops felt just on the verge of being snow. Chilled to the bone. Back at the pub parking lot, changed into clothes in rainstorm, then went in and got a pint with the boys. We were sitting at a candle-lit table, it looked like the middle ages..

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Running in the Moonlight

I took off on my Tuesday night run last night, headed up Frank’s Valley, and then up Heather Trail, which zig-zags back and forth up the side of a hill to coastal Highway One. It’s a climb of maybe 1000 feet, but very gradual in slope due to the switchbacks. There was half a moon, a clear night with stars out and after a few hundred yards I turned off my headlight and ran by moonlight. After my eyes got accustomed to the dark, the trail was pretty clear, and the light looked almost blue, with occasional dark shadows from t Bay tree branches. At the top, I ran along Highway One along the middle double yellow line, with lunar illumination. I went out on a scenic view point and looked out at the lights of crab boats. There was a large circular pattern of molten silver moonlight reflected on the ocean. I get ecstatic when things come together like this in the outdoors, it’s such a thrill, especially being alone. The more time I spend these days in the electronic world, the more I need to get away from the computer and iPhone to recharge soul-wise. Jeez, at this exact moment, on the radio (Bluesville, Direct TV) is Howlin’ Wolf singing “I’m a little red rooster,” followed by Chick Wills singing “Soul of a Man.” Speakin’ of soul…

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Mind, Listen to Body!

After all these years of not only running, swimming, paddling, etc., and editing a string of fitness books, I still get immersed in work and tend to put off getting out in the physical world. But (often) a small voice says, Get out there, you know you’ll feel better, and sure enough. I always come back exhilarated. Monday I forced myself to grab my paddleboard, went down, and with a high tide, paddled into the channels of the lagoon. Boy, this felt good. I beached the board on a bank, and swam. Came back to the town dock, talked to the fishermen, got home reenergized. Last night I ran with Tomás along the coast to Pirate’s Cove and we jumped into the ocean. Had a pint of local pale ale at the pub with the boys, then drove home along the coast as the light of the day faded.

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