What I think about when I am running

Last week I pushed myself perhaps a little too much. It was probably a reaction to the week before, when I had been busy with different things, but felt like I had not had the chance to be active. When my energy felt stuck and sour in the days after Roaming Zen, putting me in a bad mood, I reflected that I had not had a chance to burn it off for a while.
So I rode up Mount Tam on the Tuesday. On Wednesday I did a not-too-strenuous yoga class in the morning, and then a run in the afternoon. I knew the run was going to be a bit of a stretch, but had been itching to try it from my new starting place: over Corona Heights to the Panhandle, through the park to Strawberry Hill, up the avenues to the Moraga steps and the top of Grand View park, and then, a new section, straight across to the west side of Mount Sutro. There were some steps marked on OpenStreetMap which I wanted to try – they turned out to be very long, and very steep; I didn’t want to look around for fear of triggering my vertigo. At the top of those I felt pretty drained, but right away had to take a steep section of trail and then continue over the top of Mount Sutro.
The next morning, I was not surprised to wake up with a bit of a sore throat, but I had committed to ride with a friend that morning, and it was a beautiful morning to be heading out to San Rafael and China Camp, a mostly flat route – by local standards – so we did not push the pace and I did not feel too tired by the end.
The sickness, such as it was, passed through pretty quickly, but on Sunday, riding in slightly cooler weather, by the time I had got up onto the Panoramic Highway, I felt I had, as racers put it, burnt quite a few matches, and didn’t want to run out of energy completely. I was also feeling some lingering nervousness about the traffic from my previous experience, which tends to make me slower and more defensive. So, instead of going down to Stinson and taking the long climb up on the Bolinas end of the Fairfax road, I continued up Tam, noting how different I felt to being on the same roads five days previously – just like sitting, each time is a fresh experience –  and then descended the Seven Sisters. At the end the gate was closed, but a couple of riders told me the road was clear, just with more debris than usual from earlier slides. For the next eight miles or so, I, the other riders, and some hikers who had left their cars far behind, had a playground to relax in. It was nice to feel, too, that a ride I thought of as a stretch last month now felt like a consolidation. On the homeward leg, warmer in the lee of the mountain, churches were emptying out from Easter services, people dressed brightly, though that seemed like a different world to me.
On Monday, after plenty of rest, I felt able to tackle another run (and another yoga class in the morning). Again, having gone so hard last week, this was intended just as consolidation. Over Liberty Hill, the wind tugging here and there, the light soft and clear, I watched three crows chasing a hawk across Noe Valley, before leaving it to circle peacefully. Once I had crossed over Diamond Heights, there were other raptors, high over the valley where the freeway rumbled against the village quiet of Glen Park. Glen Canyon was, as usual, an unfolding refuge from the urban; I ran past the after-school kids, alongside the creek, wildflowers in abundance in sun and shade, and continued up to the head of the canyon, turning right to make my way slowly back to my own paved valley.

Grand View Park Moraga.jpg
Grand View is most aptly named. This is looking west along Moraga to the ocean

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2 thoughts on “What I think about when I am running

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