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The sun already set, not below the horizon, but behind the cauliflower clouds, a halo hanging just above the earth. Orange-brown light bled through the thin spots like an iodine stain, and it rimmed the crest with a subtle ember glow. The entrance to my trail shrouded by the gloom. I was late, too late. Helping Eli with his homework, I let the evening slip by. I saw the clock and snapped: “You’re on your own. I need to go run.” Ten minutes later, I stood with my car at the trail-head, contemplating my usual route, wondering what would happen if I ran the woods in the dark. Across the street, another option, an out-and-back winding across a field. I avoid this trail. Too public, too many horses. This night I chanced the field. The horse-back riders probably long gone, heading home for a late dinner and a glass of wine. I started at a trot, my only warm-up. No stretching, no high-knees, just the short drive from my house. My muscles already loose, the temperature hovered close to ninety. Gaining speed as I churned up the half-mile slope leaving the stream-valley that parallels the roadway, thick, watery air caressed my cheeks and arms, comforting, but difficult to breath. My shirt and shorts already clinging with sweat. Out across the field, a dirt path gashed through the end-of-season grass, waist-high, gone to seed, harboring countless rabbits and a family of white-tail deer. The critters bounded away at my intrusion on their evening meal. The twilight deepened as I rounded a farm-house and followed my trail into the woods, worrying a bit about the descending darkness and the knowledge that I was still running away from my car. As I turned to retrace my steps, I pushed up my sleeves and twisted at my shorts trying to reduce the friction of my soaking clothes. My sodden ball-cap, fully saturated, couldn't absorb any more sweat. Rivulets streaked my face and glasses. The rhythm of my feet striking the disappearing trail broke the silence of the twilit dusk. Mid-field, I once again disturbed the grazing deer. They scattered through deep grass and over a decorative wooden fence to perceived safety. Gliding down-hill towards the stream, I shivered. Despite the temperature, my wet clothes sapped my heat. My muscles, tapped of energy, prematurely began to cool. As I recrossed the stream, I walked—unable to see the water and trip-stones clearly in the dark. Back at my car, I realized that night had settled over the park. I had a momentary flash of panic that my family might be worried about my safety. As I returned to my calm, well-lit house, I tried to match my family’s mood—they were in social mode. Eli done with his homework; Sophie taking a break from hers; Susan, her evening responsibilities complete, holding court in a good-natured conversation. Instead, I retreated, alone, to my screened-in porch, quietly drinking a glass of water. More at jefftcann.com
I cannot say that I’m always the most eloquent of writers. I cannot say that I’m much of anything a lot of the time, but when it’s just me and the path that lay ahead, I become a runner. In Minnesota, we usually receive good running weather for about 3 weeks of the year. When those weeks come, you take advantage and lace up the running shoes and enjoy the adventure. We’re having one of those weeks currently. It’s no surprise as the leaves are starting to change from the deep green of summer to yellows, oranges, reds and even purples before they turn to their dying colors of brown. I took my time at lunch today on my familiar 1.8-mile lunch loop. It usually is a 1.5-mile jaunt to the little nature preserve that is Wood Lake Nature Reserve. Since it is in Minnesota, you can be guaranteed that there’s a lake within 15 minutes of you in any direction. I take this path because it’s mostly unpaved. It takes you out of the city even though if you look to your right, you are exactly directly in the center. 20171011_114636.mp4 Today, as I was running I enjoyed some music. I don’t always wear headphones on my runs, but I find that it fuels my running and my sense to keep moving. When times are tough during very long runs, I could switch on the iPod and find a jam, a rhythm or even a lyric that can keep me moving. I don’t have much to report except that I’m edging closer to that 100-mile registration date. My heart is beating harder just in anticipation of the sign up. My brain is telling me that I’m crazy for even attempting such a fool-hearted goal. My heart is telling me that I’ve trained healthy for three years and now is the time. My brain is telling me that I’m chasing pipe dreams. My stomach is telling me to eat all the food. My heart is strong. My brain is prepared. My stomach is just a gluttonous pig. So, as I ran today for my 293rd day straight, I smiled. Today was a beautiful day to run much like every day. With the Autumn colors starting, I, too, am reminded that I can change. I will change every day’s goals to ensure that I make these huge goals that I set for myself. I only hope that I can see the beauty of those changes every day that I train. Run strong and never give up!