Kinda outed myself about this on Twitter recently. After 20-plus years of slouching at a desk I’m learning the hard way that I should have been moving more and that the occasional blast of fitness doesn’t do it. Six weeks in, I’m down ten pounds and find myself oddly hooked. Have written many thousands of words at 2.2 miles per hour. Still prefer to sit while poring over line edits and making revisions, but other than that it’s been a pleasantly functional deal.
Late last Sunday afternoon before performing at Big Top Chautauqua, I donned my running gear and ran straight up the face of Mount Ashwabay. Just about hurled a lung, but made it. Turned at the very tip-top, and was rewarded with a many-miles view of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands in the sun, and down at the foot of the ski hill, the blue and pearl-gray tent waiting patiently for the evening’s ticketholders to file in. The sound of the Blue Canvas Orchestra in rehearsal floated up on the breeze. I drank it all in, and thought too of my family at home. Made me feel lonesome and privileged all at once. Running down the hill, I followed a trail of soft red sand that wove through the trees, everything quiet under the cover of leaves.
Remember that post I wrote about running a mile recently? I ran it in 5:50, but told someone it didn’t look like 5:50. And it certainly didn’t feel like 5:50. It looked and felt ugly. Now, thanks to photographer, geographer, radio host and international track journalist Sean Hartnett, I have photographic proof that I am still working on that whole gazelle thing. If you think the photo above reflects a certain internal turmoil, check out this one:
Rodale Press has just published Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks & Adventures, a collection of stories from Runner’s World magazine. The anthology includes a profile I wrote of Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall. I recall so clearly the smell of hot pine needles on the still day when I visited his family and met his wonderful grandmother.