14 tagged with #running

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i drift over the pathways and see:

  • a dusty blue crane, gazing curiously at a fisherman dropping his line into the canal
  • a slow old lady, holding the leash of a chihuahua that's up on the hip-height wall so she doesn't have to reach down as far to pet him
  • strangely twisted tree trunks that render into hoops at certain viewing angles
  • a minivan with the name of a street ministry painted on the side, depositing speakers and folding chairs
  • a back alley servicing a yoga studio, exotic dancers, karaoke bars, and a baptist church
  • a sign banning shopping carts from the park, so the vagrants push baby strollers full of plastic bags wrapping their belongings

31 December 2018 13:10

running richmond

over time, i've learned to trust that i can be cold in certain ways. i know that feeling on my skin, when the air temperature is low enough that i wish i had another layer but i also know that if i run for long enough, the blood pumping under my skin will create a bubble of warmth around me, so long as i never slow down.

it's hilly where i learned to run. i've learned to not cherish the downhills so much, because i will eventually need to climb right back up. i've learned to love the uphills, because that is how i earn a long cruise on the other side.

in a flat city, i fly over bridges. i take advantage of visiting during a big city race, knowing that many roads will be closed for the benefits of the race entrants. i cruise up long, spiraling on-ramps and dance across the narrow median to skip onto the trails. above me, the sky opens blue with a stiff wind. i call back to the crows, releasing the trill from the back of my throat until i see them hesitate and circle back to look at me.

i careen around a corner, spraying gravel through the curve; unexpectedly, an orange climbing helmet catches the corner of my eye, right before i see the unmistakeable gesture of an arm drawing rope out of its coil. there's a retaining wall holding the hillside together, and i run loops around the trail until i catch the unmistakeable sound of carabiners clinking at someone's hips. in the middle of the city, under the bridge, on the old rail pillars, dozens of college students cling to the flagstone, teaching each other how to tie down their fears.

the river trails are magnetic to me. i pound along them, leaping through bushes to cut corners because i saw an even better long, straight flat that wraps around the bank. i pass a man who paused his trail run to do box jumps on every boulder protecting the trail from a parking lot. i pass dogs. i pass strollers parked next to the canal. i pass hundreds and thousands of runners limping back from the finish line party, shivering in blankets while their friends lead them back to their cars.

i'm warm, and i smile at everyone i pass. when i get back to the parking garage, i skip the elevator, skip the stairs, and run up five stories of ramps because i missed the hills that taught me how to run.

11 November 2018 22:04

reminders from the crossing guard

the street reeks of ginkgo berries, a warm mushy pungent paste that coats the fresh pavement, which is too hot in this mid-october week. i skid to a stop, panting gently in the shade.

"how are you?" she asks, peacefully standing in the rectangle formed by the power box blocking the afternoon sun.

"hot. too hot. i wish it were colder."

she let me sweat for a moment while the cars blew past us, then reminded me that the weather came from something i didn't understand. true enough, i thought. we have never understood the weather. "are you a christian?" she asks.


"well, sometimes i read the bible," she confesses. "and sometimes i'm out here, and i see the trees waving, and i say it's because they're thanking god for the day."

we cross the street together, looking up at the canopy of branches forming a shield for us against a hazy blue sky. it is mid-october, and they are not yet ready to drop their leaves. sweat pools under my watch strap. she tells me about how before i ran up to her, she was just standing there enjoying the nice breeze.

"and maybe sometimes we gotta think about how our negativity might impact the world around us," she tells me gently, while i take an extra moment to let my skin cool. "we can be grateful just to be here today."

she puts out her hand to me, and thanks me for taking the moment to listen. i shake her hand; it's dry and cool, and she does not grip firmly when she wishes me a good rest of my run.

08 October 2018 16:53


slog uphill, because that's how you earn the downhill flight. there's been inches and inches of rain; mud splashes up to my thighs. i pass a trail crew, taking a break from cutting ditches for fresh logs, holding their hands up while standing in a circle.

'run through, run through!' one of them shouts to me; i hold my hands up in the same positions, skipping through their circle, spinning in circles, laughing while i almost slip in the gravel.

'be careful,' the crew leader at the next worksite shouts, as i skip over mud pits and vault past tape they've tied across the trail between trees to mark off the next drainage ditch they want to carve. 'go through, be careful.'

11 June 2018 23:00

this spring, i swear

there's a rule that when i go outside, it rains on me. this is not a burden; i find it validating that the sky finds me worthy of receiving water. the weather forecast this morning reported no chance of precipitation, partly cloudy skies, an unseasonably brisk but not punishing spring day. sewage problems in my building drove me out to get some fresh air, so i changed into my running shoes and escaped.

clouds hung trapped over the river valley, funneled in by the wind vanguard of a pressing warm front. there are days when running can't possibly feel good; no matter what i do with my legs, arms, breath, i feel distressingly sluggish and lacking any sense that i ought to exist. my body is a vessel that i pilot half-assedly down the trail. work trucks grind up the gravel path towards me, forcing me to swerve, giving me looks as if i'm the one making poor decisions about where i've put myself.

but it rained on me, a few spits of water leaking out of those heavy, rushed clouds. i squinted up into the pale sky, the rolling tangle of confused birds and a drifting cluster of balloons that someone had released upstream. the river moves in an apparent slow-motion seethe of mud. briefly, it still smells like sewage.

i can't help but laugh. i don't want to laugh.

11 April 2018 17:31

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