Saturday, January 28, 2012

Who Stole Winter?

I looked at the monthly weather report and counted seven days of weather over 80 degrees so far in January.
I suppose our temperatures sound divine for some snow-laden Spring Dreamers.
But, when your Summers linger into early November, being robbed of Reliable Cool just isn't, well, cool.

Kona and I search for shady patches during our afternoon hikes. This becomes quite the challenge in chaparral country, where shade deficient shrubs rule.
Maybe, just maybe, we'll see our foothills dusted with snow this season. Any snow dancers in the house?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012

Relief

I took a deep breath, letting the humidity bring life to my lungs. Kona made her rounds to the abundant smells brought by the morning dew. We haven't had substantial rain in over a month. While lasts night's moisture was trace on the record tables, all life at dawn soaked up the overnight mist.
For the first time in weeks, I felt the crisp air against my nose. Kona had an extra bounce in her gait. Relief settled into my stride as I felt Winter for the first time this season.
We started at a steady run, but when we reached Kona's preferred side of the fireroad, we became a pair of hares, running and stopping as Kona followed her nose. Our run would take longer than planned, but I didn't care.
I stopped to watch the sunrise.

In a rare moment of calm, Kona stopped with me, perhaps contemplating the scents carried on the whispering breeze.
As we started the final leg of our run, adrenaline jolted my senses as a blur dashed across the trail in front of us. The coyote stopped just off the fireroad, no more than 10 meters away. Judging by her puffed fur and the raised hairline across her back, her adrenaline spiked as well.

It took only seconds for the coyote to relax. She soon came back onto the fireroad and trotted away. "Away" happened to be the direction we were headed. We jogged behind her for awhile until she decided to move down the canyon.
My encounters with coyotes are often up close, but their behavior always follows the same pattern. They freeze when I freeze, move when I move, move when I'm frozen if they don't feel threatened. And while we essentially chased this coyote off the trail this morning, we saw her again during our return trip. Coyotes who live so close to neighborhoods need a certain boldness towards humans to survive. I was glad to see this one seemed to be thriving.
I walked the final stretch to the car, trying to stretch out our trail time. With happy lungs and a happy dog, it was hard to say goodbye to the morning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Form and Process

Spending over a year with a spasming hamstring, sore tendon, and aching hip got me thinking. Maybe it's time to figure out a way to stop hurting. I've done my share of RICE, stretching, strengthening, but as those who've experienced injury know, some pains come back, rehab and initial recovery be damned.

This time around, I'm working on my running form, hoping to find biomechanical errors at the root of my protesting legs.

Up first? Stabilize my pelvis to limit the lateral movement in my hips. Up second? Land on my midfoot instead of my heel. What does this all mean? It means I get to focus my mind in a new way. When I'm asking my abs to steady my pelvis (to myself of course, not out loud) I can't spin my head around what's on the plate that day. Hard running always has a way to silence my mind because all attention turns to getting oxygen into my lungs. But focusing on form now lets me turn easy jogs into moving meditation. It's another tool to bring me into the moment, something our dogs model so well. Awakening the moment lies at the heart of seizing the day.

And so I talk to my pelvis.
How's it going so far? Well in only a couple of weeks, the hip-stabilizing has worked like a magic pill. My hip doesn't hurt anymore. I'm half hoping for my usual twinge to come back because, really, did I just spend a year hurting when the answer was so simple? Perhaps battle, force, and will don't always top the podium.

The midsole strike hasn't gone so well. In an attempt to avoid striking the back of my foot, I've swung too far forward and started striking my forefoot. Running on the balls of my feet has awaken all sorts of muscles in my lower legs. While I enjoy the muscle-discovery of funky soreness, this wasn't the plan. The midsole strike is being readjusted.

As one change works and another requires more change, I'm becoming more excited about the process of adjusting my stride. This won't happen overnight. Instead, I get to set goals (figure out a way to run that doesn't hurt), create steps to reach those goals (hello pelvis, hello midfoot), and adjust and zig-zag and enjoy the journey.
We humans struggle to live in the moment, partly because of the gifts of foresight, dreaming, and reflection. As I focus on my running form, I get to watch a process unfold in the present moment, and let a future goal shape the now. It's not about willing myself or struggling to a certain end. It's about adjusting, responding, asking, shaping. . .because missing all the mole holes along the way is a travesty of life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

We did it!

We headed West, traversing the top of the hillside.
Meandering from one side of the fireroad to the other, we took our time.
We paused to check on the moon, still awaiting its glory hour.
We wished sweet dreams to the city,
and bid the sun farewell.
We took time to bask in the last rays of the day.
That, my friends, is how we first hiked to see sunset.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's 2012!

I can't think of a better way to start a new year than a morning on the trail. I've learned over the past three years with Kona that the better part of the city thinks the same. After frustrating trail attempts from previous years, Kona and I applied our best skill this morning....early.
We plodded along well before the sun rose. I left the headlamp behind, comfortable on the familiar fireroad, but half worried about tripping over bodies as we jogged through the dark. It wouldn't be the first time Kona and I had run into people rolled up in sleeping bags on our ridge. Holidays bring out many the eager, ableit ill-prepared and ill-informed adventurer. Lucky for us, the trail was all ours. Well, almost.
After our first turning point, I heard the dreaded, thump, vuuuuum, thump.

The paperboy flew through the neighborhood below us. While normally not newsworthy, to Kona, the paperperson might as well be the automotive Grim Reaper. So we ran. Fast.

In a testament to Kona's growing confidence, she recovered quickly. Less than a minute later, I froze dead in my tracks. I squinted, trying to make out what stood frozen on the trail in front of us. I wheeled Kona close, taking a few steps forward. A swoosh of the towering tail gave the skunk away. While every other animal runs off the trail when pursued by a plodding AC and crazy-eyed Kona Dog, the little stinker trucked along in the middle of the trail, tail high, for ten minutes! Kona was thrilled.

When our morning company finally found a suitable spot to meander off trail, Kona and I were on our own to enjoy the beginnings of the new year.

Happy 2012 to all our blogging buddies. May the new year bring filling moments of solitude and cherished days of good company, preferably not of the little stinker sort.