Today was gorgeous. Spring-like weather in February, a mile into the run my coat was tied around my waist. Today I ventured out with a friend for a 6 mile loop through some of the most beautiful countryside (I think) in the Berkshires. This run had it all, rolling hills, flat stretches bordering cornfields, shaded areas, brooks, and farmland, complete with a flock of geese crossing the road. The geese would have been featured as the stars of this post had my cell camera not been full. Running with a friend keeps me motivated, not only to get started, but to keep going. Neither of us had run this distance in a while, and I know I had my doubts, but most of it went by with conversation and scenery. We passed a farm, home to a large flock of sheep, and stopped for a moment to say hi to the babies. With temperatures in the high 40's, this was a perfect late winter loop. I got my vitamin D and had the time to catch up with a friend.
This winter has been a strange one to say the least. I have been running in long sleeve tee shirts for most of it. This warm again cold again weather pattern has created havoc on the dirt roads on which I run, giving my ankles an extra tough workout. There were frozen ruts this morning and I had to make sure and slow my pace, zigzagging across a road not traveled by many (closed for the season) and really pay attention to my footing. I do use running as a sort of moving meditation, many ideas or solutions to problems come within the rhythmic cadence of foot on pavement and attention to breath. This morning I was made aware of more than just the pounding of pavement and labored breathing as I ascended yet another Berkshire hill. I needed to watch the ground carefully as I traveled, lest I twist an ankle. This made for slow going but paying attention always brings rewards. First is a safe and healthy return, second a greater connection with my body. Although I enjoy experiencing those "Aha" moments during a run, running for me is more than merely meditation. It affords me opportunity to be here, on this earth, in this body, creaky ankles and all. It affords me the chance to feel those lungs that were, for so many years filled with cigarette smoke, and now are filled with country air. It allows me to propel myself through space, and ending with a sense of accomplishment. I did it, I can do it, I am here.