And The Thunder Rolls

Well, the jury is out on these new Bluetooth earbuds. The features and convenience are nice, but they have these rubber cups that seal them into my ears. No wax needed. They block outside noises very effectively, but they also trap noises inside. Yes, my head makes noises, doesn’t everyone’s? All my internal workings reverberate along the ear canal and it sounds like a blacksmiths convention in there. My breathing is really amplified, like an asthmatic making an obscene phone call, which might actually turn me on if my footfalls didn’t sound like Japanese Taiko drums. Am I alone here or have you experienced this too?

I discovered I was wearing them wrong when I saw Shalane Flanagan wearing some in an ad in Runner’s World. Apparently, the cord goes around behind the neck. I had been wearing them cinched up under my chin like a little boy with a cowboy hat.

So my long run came up last weekend and, let’s face it, who looks forward to the long run? I find myself looking for things to do around the house. Hmm, that tree could use some trimming. Where’s the chainsaw? Oh, and the shower drain needs to be de-hairballed. Good.

But Sunday evening came and I could put it off no longer. One thing that does motivate me for the long run is a good audiobook or a thought-provoking podcast. So I donned my earbuds and grabbed my phone and headed out the door for a 60 minute run around the neighborhood.

Earlier in the day, we went to a pot luck where I may have had a few garlic meatballs. Then a few more. So for dinner, I decided to go light and cut up some celery, carrots and had a few slices of thin crust garlic spinach pizza. I was confident no vampires would come near me that night. Well, I don’t know if it was the meatballs or the veggies or what, but halfway into the run my gut felt like a balloon. I did a quick glance back to be sure the coast was clear and let ‘er rip. Although I couldn’t hear anything because of the earbuds, it just felt loud. You know what I mean? My cheeks rattled. Grateful for once to be heading into the wind, I trotted onward, cracking thunder for about a block. After another glance back – not to check for people, but to be sure I wasn’t trailing a garlic vapor cloud – I quickly turned a corner.

The nights here in the Valley of the Sun are indeed cooler now, but also more humid, so it makes the runs a bit harder and I don’t worry about pace as much. But I don’t mind a hard run this time of year because I know that if I push, it will pay off when the weather cools.

Rounding a corner, I headed into the final mile. Running in the evenings poses a problem with being able to see obstacles, particularly on a sidewalk that is partly in shadow and could be uneven in spots. The sidewalk was lined with trees and bushes and whatever debris they may shed. So I didn’t worry when I stepped on a leaf, until it went Pop! It was a pop that I could hear through my hermetically sealed earbuds. You see, the recent rains chased all kinds of critters from their underground lairs. This one was a sewer cockroach. And there were more, I soon discovered. I tried to avoid them but it was useless. There were too many. It was like tap dancing on bubblewrap.

After that little Fred Astaire moment, I came across a cute house with an immaculate front lawn and deftly wiped my shoes on it before continuing. Hey, you don’t know! That stuff could be good grass fertilizer.

When I got home, I felt really good. Lighter for some reason. I also felt good because earlier in the day I had weighed myself and had dropped another seven pounds! Some simple diet adjustments and increased running frequency are really making a difference. I had checked out a diet book from the library, The Joy of Tapeworms, but I don’t think I’ll be needing it.

The earbuds, I don’t know… a little too soundproof for my comfort. I prefer to be more aware of my surroundings.

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Desert.two-trails

The weekly Wednesday evening trail run was fun last week. I didn’t see any snakes or panicking quail, but the run felt good. My time is getting better around the two mile loop and I think it’s time to move over to the three miler.

On the uphill part, which is the first half of the loop, I passed a lady heading down. We exchanged the standard greeting grunts and, as I passed her I thought, I’m going to beat her back to the parking lot! So I ran uphill. And in about 50 feet I stopped to catch my breath. Then I ran again. And in about 25 feet, I stopped to catch my breath. Now, I’m no mathematician, but I do know that if you go half the distance, then half that distance and continue that way, you will never get where you are going. So I “power-walked” the rest of the uphill part. Then came the downhill and away I went. Although, I did stop to take this picture of Buckeye, AZ.

city-view

I was like a deer, darting this way and that down the trail. Dodging a loose rock here and cactus needles there. Look out for that horse poop! Leaping and prancing [stop to pet the doggies] more running, until finally I came to the bottom and saw the lady coming down the other trail approaching the bridge where they converged.

“Hey! Didn’t I just pass you?” she asked. “Did you run?”

“Well, it’s easier going downhill,” I replied trying not to sound out of breath and turning a little blue from the effort.

We chatted as we crossed the bridge to the parking lot. She said she saw a baby rattlesnake and some quail and told me about some kids cutting cross-country. I told her about the dogs I petted.

There is always something to enjoy in a run, even the long runs. Find it and savor it.

Cool runnings to you, my friends!

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