On Textures, Trails, & Timing

The river trails lured me when I first looked out the window yesterday morning. Everything was covered in dew drops and shimmered as we moved toward the rays of the sun. The dewy blanket revealed the textures of each flower gone to seed, the velvety puffs and cushions of wildflowers, the spiky anchors of grasses, the spinning parachutes of weeds…

The sun rose over the hillside and illumined the spider webs that now looked vacant after a busy night under the full moon. The webs covered the grasses, flowers, weeds, and almost everything in the field, as if the spiders had cast nets to catch the frost.

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I’m a slow runner. I plod along for a half marathon; Monday’s average pace was 12:45 a mile. Of course, that included bathroom breaks, videos of deer, photos of deer a few times, tying my shoes, and trudging up some big hills over and over and over again (total elevation gain of just over 6,000ft). Still, I’m slow at running, and I know it. I take my time and enjoy the space. I notice a million tiny things that I want to stoop and admire, photograph from different angles, try to capture the textures and shifting light. I have to lure myself forward with the promise of even more tiny delights coming out of the earth. The fossils paint stories and each footfall finds another one, images to gobble into my imagination, so I trudge still onward, quite content with the pace and space…

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The trails on the hills offer different sights and sensations than the river trails. Beside the river, I am sometimes 3 min. a mile faster on my average running time. That’s quite a difference, and the terrain and climate create an alternative momentum. The fields meet the forest by the river in a low circular formation. Sounds reverberate off the limestone bluffs and muddy edges that create the river bank. Mossy trails offer soft cushions for my feet, and squishy mud through the small forest is equally inviting for quick progress.

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Landscapes and their textures remind me of human bodies. Or, vice versa. Form and texture create layers for both movement and the imprint of previous motion. Taking time to pause and express a form with my own body, my motion suspends for a moment—the running stalls, breath softens, body lengthens, bends, relaxes. My favorite mat has always been the earth, and my yoga mat is so dirty from practicing outside that taking it into a studio seems hilarious when placed next to the pristine and often expensive yoga mats of other practitioners. The leafy or mossy ground is a great cushion for arm balances. The drishti of tree branches, leaves, and flowers forever blooms into new gazes, new focus, and the change of nature is the meditation, staying there patterns the breath, loosens the love, even as I move again.
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Pausing to practice, to center in meditation again as I stretch, I catch glimpses of the red-shouldered hawks, a great blue heron, a cardinal, the wren making a fuss about my presence, the singing of crickets in a loud chorus that I hadn’t previously noticed, the splash of a big fish in the river, a turtle sliding into the water’s edge and the cloudy silt fluttering up to the surface for the moment and settling again.

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Yoga at Montgomery Bell

I’ve been jumping up and down–in excitement…and over the jump rope for training. Beginning in Summer 2019, I will start teaching two power flow yoga classes a month at Montgomery Bell. But first, in December, when all the ultra runners come to check in for the Bell Ringer on Friday night, I have the opportunity to lead them in a yoga class, and then go out and run with them the next day.  

The first yoga class will begin in the Summer of 2019 on Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. More details coming soon. Rescheduled from this fall due to construction at the park location where we intended to have the yoga class.

This will be a Power Flow and energy-generating yoga session. During this class, we’ll practice sun salutation flows, warriors, and leg strengthening postures. You will sweat during this practice. Overall, you will move and build strength and flexibility. For runners, this is a great class for pre-run strengthening or for cardio workout on your “off” days. Music Playlist will be funky, bluesy, upbeat music. We will have a cool down portion for flexibility.

Pre-registration required. You will need to bring your mat, bottled water, a towel, and possibly, bug spray.

I’ve been visiting Montgomery Bell since I was nine years old–to swim, to hike, to picnic, to run, to swing, to play games, to splash in the creeks. As a college student, I met my then-boyfriend in the afternoons at the park and hiked out to the lakes and talked for hours about what we would do when we grew up. When I was twenty-three, I got married to that guy in the little historic church there. In my thirties, I ran several races, even when I was pregnant once. Teaching there and planning for so much more to happen at a place that has allowed me to experience many of life’s beauties and challenges propels my imagination and determination to create more and to share those moments with other nature enthusiasts. 

I’ll be teaching on Friday night, December 7, 2018, before the Bell Ringer race. Then, I’ll be running in the 50km the next morning.
Here’s the Bell Ringer 50k/25k Sign Up!