under ford bridge and back
18 degrees / feels like 8
95% snow-covered, a few slick spots
And, goal achieved! In the middle of my run, I reached 1000 miles. Probably as I ran over the double bridge on my way back, maybe as I encountered another person who was stopped on the bridge. We did that annoying thing where we both went the same way, then shifted and went the same way again, then finally went in opposite ways.
A good run. It felt hard at the beginning. Difficult to breathe through a stuffed-up nose. I’m not sick, it’s just living inside in the dry air for too much of the day. As I warmed up, it got a little easier. The sidewalks were covered in packed, uneven snow, slick in spots.
I think I saw my shadow. I can’t remember if I saw them today, but a few days ago, driving on the river road, I admired the long, dark, twisted shadows the trees were casting on the completely white, completely snow-covered river road.
I heard some chirping birds, sounding like spring. As I started the run on my block, I heard a howl or a bellow. A dog? A coyote? A dog. Whining at the back door of a neighbor’s house. And I heard my feet striking the packed snow on the path. No pleasing crunch, or delightfully annoying grind. Only muffled thuds. Thought I heard some wind chimes coming from a neighbor’s deck. No headphones heading south, my “swim meet motivation” playlist heading back north.
Smelled the fire at the house on edmund that always seems to have a fire in the winter.
Felt my feet slip a little as I ran over slick spots. Enjoyed feeling the dry pavement — solid, secure — on the very rare and brief spots where the path was dry. Felt my burning, flushed face — was I overdressed? Felt a strong, sharp wind blowing in my face.
At some point in the run, I was interrupted by the sound of the wind rushing through some dead, orange leaves on an oak tree. What was I interrupted from? Maybe thinking too much about my effort or whether or not I would encounter another person or concentrating on the words to the song I was listening to. This interruption reminded me that one key way I use moving outside to pay attention is through passive noticing, answering when the world calls to me. Making myself open and available to the world. Yes! Before I went out for a run, I was working on the schedule for the class I’m teaching in the winter. I was trying to figure out how to tighten it up, rein it in a little, so I didn’t have too much (too many ideas, activities, readings) that might overwhelm students. I think this idea of passive attention and letting the world in, being open, is key to that. Cool.
Speaking of my class, here are some passages from an essay (Thinking Like a Sidewalk) on sidewalks and running in the winter that I might want to use in my class:
gradations of gray
My hometown of Carbondale, Colorado is buried in enough snow each winter to force most of us to become connoisseurs of concrete. Having spent the spring inviting peaking greens, all summer squinting across a singed expanse, and the fall celebrating the leafy explosion, each winter I relearn how to appreciate the gradations between smoke, cool ash, slate, pewter and pearl.
I realized what made me feel part of the wild was not physical proximity, but emotional. The intimate connections I formed with my wintery tableau from the treadmill felt as real and important as any experience on the trail. I became more familiar with that patch of snowy creekbed than many people ever would, and even worried when my nuthatch friend failed to report for pine-branch duty (If you’re reading this, please reach out).
The treadmill window allowed me to become what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the “transparent eyeball” in his essay, “Nature.”
I am nothing, I see all.
Similar to a new strength routine, or a pre-race visualization, cultivating the habit of noticing the confident posture of a rook on its telephone pole perch takes focus, intent and repetition.
This demands turning attention toward the rustle of grass that says you aren’t running solo or the shallow pawprint that shows you aren’t the only critter perfecting their strides. Each run offers an opportunity to broaden our understanding of what wildness is, and connect with it in and around ourselves.
Perhaps the sidewalk doldrums are due less to the monochrome concrete as the decline in our ability to appreciate the wilderness that exists between the cracks, and that exists in us. It’s one thing to value a majestic vista worthy of posting on Instagram, something more subtle to celebrate the subtlety of snowy sidewalk.
Wow! I’m definitely going to use bits of this essay for my class. Love it. note: the title, Thinking Like a Sidewalk, is a reference to Aldo Leopold and his essay, Thinking Like a Mountain.
Other things I want to read that are mentioned in the essay:
- The Practice of Wild / Gary Snyder
- Nature / Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Thinking Like a Mountain