This is how my summer went: I worked, for a bit. I ran, a lot. I wrote, a lot. I ate, a lot. And then suddenly and without warning, I stopped blogging. I got lazy. I put it off and put it off. Before I knew it, months had gone by and I hadn’t written a word.
So when I recently found myself injured during a freak accident on the running trail (two dogs slammed against my knee and pow!, down I went), I knew I’d be sidelined from running for a week or two. So it seemed a good time to finally catch up on my summer running adventures.
I ran the Mayor’s Half Marathon in June (June!). I did this after working on my novel all night, sleeping less than two hours in the early morning, popping out of bed, throwing on my clothes and arriving at the start line five minutes before the race. It was my slowest half ever but I still managed to place second in my age group (this is one of the advantages of getting old).
After that, there were more runs. More writing. More food. I developed a horrid craving for pretzels dipped in Newman’s Ranch dressing mixed with hot sauce (I know, I know, not vegan or even healthy, sigh, sigh), and the only reason I didn’t put on weight is because I was running so much, and stressing so much over my book.
Because I was training for an ultra, I took long and delicious runs each weekend: 20 miles, 22, 24, 26, 25, 24. One Saturday, MM dropped me off at Flattop and I ran all the way home, looping around Powerline Pass, Spencer Trail, through Bicentennial Park and then over to the Chester Creek and Coastal Trails until finally, 25 miles later, home. It was one of those magical runs where everything came together and I felt strong the whole way.
The following week I bonked, hard, by the Tank Trail. I sat down in the dirt, ate two gels and felt good and sorry for myself. Probably I would have complained, too, except that there was no one around. Finally I pulled myself back up and ran 19 miles home.
In July 4, the death date of my sister, Cathie, I always run the Mount Marathon Race and this year I did it on almost no sleep (that damned novel, eh?), MM driving down to Seward in the early morning while I napped in the backseat.
I hadn’t been on the mountain since last year’s race but it all came back to me and I moved so smoothly on the ascent, it was like the familiarity of an old lover, the way my hands instinctively reached for handholds and my feet knew where to go for the best traction, the quickest paths around brush and rocks. It was my fastest time to the top.
Then I turned around and racked up my second slowest time on the descent. I did this purposefully, since I didn’t want to risk injury, but still it was demoralizing to see women I had beaten to the top fly past me on the steep screen hills while I took it slow, and of course I still skidded over rocks and fell (three months later I still have pieces of Mt. Marathon embedded in my ass. This makes me happy. I like knowing I’m carrying around a piece of that mountain inside my skin).
After Mt. Marathon, there were more long runs, more midweek semi-long runs, more mountains, more beauty. One night on the Powerline Pass Trail, MM and I came across a lynx, and we both stopped and stared, and it was magical, the air hushed with the late evening summer twilight, the trees so green, and a lynx strolling down the path as if it owned it. I didn’t even get a decent photo because it wasn’t about taking pictures or recording the moment for later, it was about what was happening then, in the immediate and glorious now.
There were also beach walks and hikes and sunny afternoons sitting in the sand and reading books. Oh, what is it about summer that makes me both terribly happy and yet nostalgic? I wonder if we all feel it, that longing for the popsicle stickiness of our childhood summers. Now that summer is over, I find myself mourning for what I lost, what I didn’t have time to do, what I did and wanted to do again. Summer, I think, is always bittersweet like that.