Sunday, November 29, 2009

Very often when I go out for a run I will see something and say to myself that I should be bringing my camera along. I did this a bit when I first started this blog but then just scheduling a run became a challenge, let alone making sure the camera was charged, and it can get difficult juggling everything. I also take different routes and depending on how much time I have. I may do a couple miles or up to eight miles depending on the time and how I am feeling and carrying anything eight miles is a pain, especially if the memory is full or the battery dies.

But today I had some time, not much, but enough for a 3 mile loop and the camera was charged and the sun was still early in the sky.

I have often described how I live on a hill, not a steep one, but a hill still the same and it is approached only by other hills. This is the downhill as I leave our street. Traffic is dead, the air is clear and its warm enough for shorts and a tee and I am on my way. I am sometimes puffing as I climb my street then turn the corner and can rest a bit on this incline.

The flatter road runs past the middle and high school with it rack of sculls waiting for the return of warmer weather. As schools go this is a smaller one, but then Lenox is a small town and this is relatively new. At this point I've hit a quarter mile and come to the soccer fields. Football is not a Lenox sport, soccer is and there are 3 fields which I sometimes will venture out on and do a few laps around to add distance and there is a neat little drainage pond where I spot frogs and once even a crane.

I've passed this apple tree at all of its seasons. By now the leaves are gone and apples have mostly fallen waiting for some creature to retrieve or become compost under the coming snow.

Along this route there is a lot of water draining and always going somewhere. Behind several houses and deeper in the woods there is this wetland swamp with many dead trees in the middle and surrounding it, but still teeming with life.

Coming up on a clearing, at least on one side of the road, is the ever present ridge line that I have captured and written about many times. This shot is looking back and more to the northeast as the sun is to low and bright for a forward shot.

If you are driving this road there are many things you can miss. This stream flows under the road and on either side it bubbles along and here it gets closer to its end in the river bellow. The absence of leaves gives the depth of the surroundings and it looks so different when cloaked in thick green leaves and brush.

By now I have reached the halfway point, the intersection of 3 roads that aren't really interesting enough to grant blog space for. The golf course on one side is a golf course like so many others with the only unique thing (to me, of course) is the tall grasses on the edge.

Something I have learned is to be alert and always be looking around. Besides being aware of coming cars, a slight trickle sound is enough to lead me through trees to find a beautiful stream or looking up to find this solitary nest high above the street.

or noticing the detail and beauty of what can be seen in the woods when the leaves are gone.

or this mysterious toilet that has just sits there in the woods surrounded by water at the side of the road. Now and in the spring you can see it, but in the summer the leaves are thick and it is totally hidden from view.

or the crow that just landed in the branch above me...... there is always so much to take in.

I rarely take shots of houses and post them here as I don't like to intrude and often they are not that interesting. But I pass this rambling farmhouse every day, sitting back from the road with a carriage house and barn and wooden bird cage on the porch and rope swing and views of the pastures and the ridge below. Its been on the market for over a year now so if you know anyone interested I'll tell you exactly where it is.

With this I am close to returning to home. The camera is filled up so there is nothing much more to show. I approach the hill that I started this post out with only this time looking up. My goal is usually to make it 3/4 of the way up without walking but today I only make it halfway. Its steeper than it looks from that shot.
At the top of the hill I can catch a glimpse of Mt Greylock, one of the highest points in the state and probably 40 miles away. I have yet to be able to capture the beauty of how it looks from here so I'll just tell you about it and when I do, I guarantee it will be here.

So as I top the hill I round the corner and can now cool down on the hill that approaches home. Feeling good but tired and ready for another run tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to all who wander to these parts. I am thankful for your presence.

Today is a day to put aside the worries and concerns about what isn't and what we don't have and focus on what is good and what we do have, which is substantial. I guess it is what I would call a celebration of the half full glass versus the half empty. A day to be optimistic and reflective.

I sit here looking out the window in the physically beautiful and peaceful location, with family around [sleeping as they may be], the sky is gray and, misty and it is quiet. [obviously the picture here is not from today] The clouds hang over the ridge line almost suspended from above and being carried to the south. If I listen intently I can hear the bells on the church across town counting off the hours. The air us still.

I'll go out for a run in a little bit, a chance to do something I am learning to love but am having difficulty fitting into the schedule. Then back for a slow day of feasting and resting and connecting. My glass is definitely more than half full and I and thankful.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Have you ever been bored when you have much to do?

Its sort of like having thinking you have nothing to wear when you have a closet and dresser full of clothes or like the comment "there is nothing to eat!" Well I am someone who can usually find something to wear and it is extremely rare that I can't make a more than decent meal with the what is ever around. So why do I get bored s easily when there is so much to do?

I guess like the comments about clothes and food, it really amounts to that I don't like the choices. Do I mop up the water that came in the basement in the downpour of the past few days? Do I venture out to wrestle with the water hose still connected to the house and put it away for the season? Do I clean out the pellet stove? Yeah I will eventually do them all and go to the library, store and post office and clean up around the house and make dinner and when I have I will feel better about checking them off my list but then at the end of the day will probably feel like I haven't done enough. Because what I won't have finished by Sunday will probably be paperwork or process related. Though I tackle that chore several times a week it just never gets smaller. So why is this?

I have come to the conclusion that because Monday through Friday is so programed, so filled scheduled and with things that get so drawn out and complicated that they don't get finished by week end and I work with many interruptions, that when I get to the weekend I feel like I've washed up on shore. About 3-4 hours after getting up on a Saturday I am ready for a nap but there is always too much to do to take time for a nap and finding the time .

There is a clear advantage to having work to do that you can finish and that when you are done you can see the results of your work. On weekends the last thing I want to pick up and work on is something that in the slightest way resembles weekday work. On a Sunday night the piles of paper will probably get whittled a bit but still be there unless there is something important.

So its now a Sunday night. On Friday night I resurrected this half finished post from the draft pile of about a year ago and played with it in my mind as I toiled away. Not really amazing that the same theme still holds true. And I can say that on this Sunday night I haven't yet picked up "projects that seem like M-F work" but my list that I started with is almost complete except for some errands.

So what was on my list this weekend for exciting stuff?
Finish installing a new toilet; pulling apart and breaking up the old one so that it is in manageable pieces to dispose; cleaned the pellet stove (a big clean versus the 5 minute sweep out; planned and made Sat & Sun dinners; packed up and put away the now unused aquarium [ we determined that one 1 inch fish does not need a 20 gallon tank]; sanding down and stripping wallpaper past off a bathroom wall [this is a drawn with first sheet rock dust everywhere and then the washing and washing off all the paste so paint will adhere [I hate this but the people who lived here before absolutely loved wallpaper and slathered it heavily with glue. Then of course there are the regular chores that come with weekend and the shuttling of teens to events.
Pretty ordinary stuff. But its done, or at least most of it is and none of it required me coordinating multiple people on a project, mediating or processing paper.

All in all a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Someone has to come in last……..

A couple of weekends back I ran my second 10 k race, a local event benefiting lung cancer research, the Brocktrot.
For those non-runners a 10k is 6.2 miles. The Brocktrot is a tough course because of its considerable amount of up hills and down hills, though in the Berkshires there are a lot of these. You might think the down hills are a breeze only you have to put your effort into not going to fast and pushing back against inertia. At least I do.

I hadn’t trained as much this year I had last year. A tighter work schedule and loosing good start up time in the spring following a heel injury put me behind where I was last year. But I’d done the race last year, had done a few flat land runs that were close to six miles and I am not beyond walking short distance when I am wiped, so I knew I’d finish. The question was how well. My goal was to finish and to try to come in under an hour. A pathetic time for a younger or more experienced runner but decent for someone like me.

The day of the race I didn’t think much about how I’d do. There are 200 people running on both sides of you, in front and in back and the road and hills are in front of you. It’s really hard for me to gauge how I am doing other than timing my pace at certain marks along the way. I seemed to be doing ok. Not great but ok.

Part of the race (a rare flat part) runs up the entrance road of Tanglewood, loops around a parking lot and then out another entrance and back on the road. It was at this loop that I could see a short distance behind me and "crap" I could see the ambulance. This follows the last person to the end [unless someone needs it] which means that I was close to the end of the pack. "Double crap". I have to at least come in a distance ahead of the freakin’ ambulance.

It was this moment that had me thinking about the topic of this post. There were people behind me, not many but still some, and someone was going to come in last.

In races of just about any kind someone is going to come in last. In some races it means you lose, such as an election or competition where you are a serious contender and there are times when you just put yourself out there to compete against others but also against yourself.

It’s easy to be philosophical about the last one over the line when it isn’t you and our culture doesn't always do well with the people who do not win. Yet more likely it is the person who comes in last, at least in a race like this, is someone like me who somewhat suspects they will be at the back of the pack but still goes out there for the experience, as a test against your own endurance, own tenacity and for the fun of the experience.

Why do we do that when we know the winners are so much faster than us and more skilled? For me it clearly a challenge of myself against the course and the clock; a marker of the work that I have done in training. There is little chance I will even see the runners who are 20 years younger than me who can finish the course in half the time or runners who have been at this for years and can practice every day. But it doesn't seem to matter. I think for those of us in the back of the pack it is the satisfaction of accomplishing something that we have had to push ourselves to do and that we did not give up when it was tough, when those up hills seemed to go on and on.

It makes me admire a little more everyone who puts themselves out there for a race, for a cause they believe in when the going is not smooth and easy or run for some election when you are getting trashed or hurting in the polls. It takes character to be willing to loose, to risk that potential embarrassment of coming in last by a wide distance. But it can also come with tremendous satisfaction of having tested yourself and finished. Maybe not first but well ahead of the many who were too afraid to even try.

So how’d I do? I finished and never even saw the ambulance again. A little over an hour, 176 out of 200 and I felt absolutely great and can’t wait until my next race.