one long digression

I had a couple of hours to kill while my bread dough rose (I am trying Jane Brocket’s bread recipe from ‘Simple Art of Domesticity’; I have tried it before but didn’t realize I had an uncorrected copy of the book with several recipe mistakes in it owing to the conversion between metric / standard measuring, and the bread came out like a dense salty rock. Loving Jane Brocket, I am giving it another go with the corrected recipe. Even if it doesn’t turn out, there isn’t much better than the smell of baking bread in the house).

I digress.

I decided to go running. I’m easing back into a more aggressive running schedule, wearing embarrassing calf sleeves to avoid my typical scourge of springtime shin splints. My running friends are all quite a bit ahead of me, already turning in fast times in events and sporting new running ensembles. This makes the competitive “what about me” part of my brain very anxious indeed. I like to think I am one of those people who feels good for my friends and proud of their accomplishments when they do better than me and that I can say graciously, “I’m only competing against myself” and to be fair, that is how I strive to be, and those are all the things I say OUT LOUD. Inside, though, I have to squash a feeling of dissatisfaction when I feel outdone, and it makes me not proud to say it about myself. But being competitive only makes me not want to run at all, oddly. I only run well when I run for love, and so I have to trick myself with encouraging words and the promise of photography to get my running shoes on when I am in this mode, otherwise I will stay inside and watch Netflix and feel gloomy and guilty whenever my gaze lands on my Mizunos.

I spend a lot of my time trying to outfox myself, it’s kind of exhausting.

I ran on the trails, which is Strictly Prohibited, and I got a lot of dirty looks from the casual ambling Sunday morning birders in their big hats and hiking boots, toting their enormous-lensed cameras; but I went along anyway, and didn’t feel very bad about it. I don’t think it hurts anyone, I’m a polite runner. Anyway, I thought, they can catch me if they want to stop me, and I put on a showoff bit of speed up a hill and then winded myself and had to walk for awhile, feeling slightly foolish.

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Trail running is harder than normal street running, uneven ground and lots of elevation changes, so I didn’t care about my time, just being outside. We are a bit behind in our greenery, but it is there, the woods are coming alive with it. Red-winged blackbirds – my favorite springtime bird – sang their bubbling, burbling song in the reeds, the sun turning their black feathers glossy. The wind was up in the trees and clouds blowing a gale, it was one of those spring days when the sun comes out and is so warm that you feel like you could curl up in a warm patch of grass and fall asleep quite cozily; but then a dark cloud is driven across it and the world falls cold and chilly, and your nose starts to run. It was the kind of day where you run and walk and run and walk and you get back to your car and all you want is a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee and everything is happy, sunshine and shadow.

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At the end of my run, I came across a couple of others to share the path with. The turkey, looking fat and brilliant in the nice light, edged past me and ran on frantically, no doubt sensing the word DRUMSTICK as it swirled through my brain. The sandhill crane, however, was unbothered; he groomed himself carefully and surveyed me with a blank golden eye, and caused ME to edge by, no longer sure that I couldn’t be caught if I tried to run.

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