Monday, May 24, 2010

My hair looks like a Chia Pet

Today's Gainesville Sun's cover story was on bad storms a'comin'. Either the news was s---l---o---w last night or these storms are cover-worthy, baby.

When one lives in the world of hurricanes, one tends to regard cover stories on weather as significant.

When will I learn???

I crept out the door this morning and stared heavenward for the entire run, listening for the low roll of thunder somewhere out there. Never happened. But because I was distracted by the possibility of badness and ran with my face in the air, I didn't notice that my ponytail band had slipped off and fallen by the wayside somewhere between headlines about storms and pounding down the dry-as-a-bone path. By the time I realized that the mop had been liberated, it was too late.

My hair frizzed up like a lion's mane. I looked like an albino Chia Pet. Terracotta face. Foo foo head. So lovely.

Today has been glorious and gorgeous. If there's a storm looming, it's going to take its sweet time. I guess it will start to pour just about the time I get my hair washed and dry again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shoe whisperer

I look down at my running feet ... and instead of being impressed by the blur in perfect cadence and balance, I am appalled at how dirty my shoes are. They blend into the pathway so that all I can admire are sock tops. Gleaming white sock tops are not impressive. They make my feet look gone.

You're also thinking that filthy shoes are also stinky, aren't you? They might be. But I'm a Southern woman and we are honor bound by our inherent belle-ness to redefine sweating as "glowing." And for sure "glow" cannot make your eyes water and cause plants to wilt.

Glow notwithstanding, I was able to locate my shoes in the dark this morning. Admittedly, that can't be good.

The shoes are getting a bath today. I gotta tame the game.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trading a run for something better

I was out too late last night. Well, I wasn't OUT too late, but I have this quirk about winding down at the end of a wound-up evening. It takes about two hours for me to slow down my racing thoughts enough even to consider sleep. Bad quirk. Requires planning.

Anyhow, I got to bed too late and awakened too late and started my run too late and it was too hot already ... gripe gripe gripe ...

Shaddup, Bev!!! All's well that ends well!

I ended up running into neighbor David, a retired attorney who is passionate and disciplined about walking in the morning. I hadn't seen him in a while, so I slowed the morning down, pulled in beside him, and joined him on a walk that took us on a route I seldom run.

We talked in the companionable way friends do when they're powering down the road side-by-side in shorts. There's something different about conversation on the move. Maybe because it's spoken in shorter bursts of breath, you tend to kind of cut to the chase. Maybe because when you're sweaty, you tend to be more real. Maybe because the conversation enfolds the shared experience of the walk -- sighting a herd of five deer, mediating a standoff between two lawn service guys and an unleashed dog with a serious dislike for men with rakes, and comparing news updates on neighbors as we passed their homes.

I don't know. It doesn't matter. What matters is that I enjoyed it. David is an amazing man with a rich, deep, colorful life. Stealing an hour with him was a great way to begin a day that had every potential for being ugly.

Now, if I could just get over the fact that I didn't run ...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recycling bins.

I love running on Tuesday mornings. This is when the recycling bins are put out. In Gainesville, each home has two bins. One for paper. And one for plastic and cans and bottles and stuff like that.

An observant runner with a compulsive curiosity about how other people live can learn a lot from a sidelong glance into a recycling bin once a week as she trots by. I know who reads more than one paper. I know who shops from catalogs. I know who has lots of parties. I know who hates to cook and relies on canned goods for sustenance. I know who has cats. I know who drinks alone. A lot.

But mostly I know that all these homes are occupied by people who are crafting lives the best way they know how. And then courageously, without worrying about what a runner sees, they put their evidence on the roadside. It's touching to me that they are so trusting, so living in the light, so unconcerned about judgment.

I live among good folk here in the Hammock.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Let it rain!

I waited to run until the thunder got bored and moved on to Georgia. But the rain lingered. And then *I* got bored. So, staring out into the downpour, I decided that I was gonna get all sweaty anyhow and then I was going to shower, so rain was merely redundant. I jumped out into it.

The only downside of running in the rain is that my shoes get wet. And I can’t guarantee that they will dry out before the next day unless I’m willing to throw them into the dryer. But then I have to put up with the thudding for a half hour or so … and I worry endlessly that the heat will degrade the insoles and the shoelaces will come out as macramé.

Oh, the life of a runner can be so complex. For a sport so simple, I make it so difficult.

But running in the rain is a special gift in the steamy swamp where I live. It’s a “Get Out of Jail Free card.” Running in the rain is cool. And the swarming, blood-sucking insects are waterlogged and can’t run me down.

So while the day might seem gray and dreary to a mere mortal, to a runner, today is glorious. I’ll take it! Carpe diem. Carpe towelum.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The DARK side of running

I had an out-of-town runner with me today at lunchtime. The outsider remarked that Gainesville’s streets and sidewalks were devoid of runners, surmising that the heyday of running here must be over.


What part of 100 percent humidity, 99 degrees of steaming heat, and radiating black asphalt did this guy fail to consider???

In Florida, only a few runners brave the heat of the day.

Most of us are out just before dawn, when the ambient temperature is the coolest after a night of … uh … no sun. (This is meteorology at its most technical, so pay attention.)

The closer we get to summer, which starts in February, the earlier we rise to try and get mileage in before the sun comes up.

Also, as a nice bonus, some people water their gardens before dawn too. (If they wait until after sunrise, sprayed water evaporates in midair.) So we can do some nice sprinkler-running to stay cool and to look a lot more sweaty than we actually are. We look good. There’s nothing like a soaked runner to inspire awe. In fact, if I lay out my route just right, I can look like a wet rat within minutes, giving the illusion that I have at least ten miles under my belt before I even get warmed up. Walkers move over and give me room. Other runners just wink as they pass and shake out their wet hair. We know what we've done.

Running in Gainesville is fun only under the cover of dark now. Which means that nightlife is getting cut short, and we’re all becoming less fun. But, oh baby, are we getting fast!

You just won’t witness our prowess at noon. At noon, we're tucked into air conditioned restaurants, carbo-loading. Like INTELLIGENT people.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Gainesville runners' secret revealed

My home—Gainesville, Florida—is the running capital of the South not because we are populated by the champions from all over the world who sneak down here to train. (They do. Ssshhhh … )

Not because hydration fluids were invented here and we are the home of Dr. Robert Cade and Gatorade. (We are.)

Not because we have the greatest running trails on the east coast. (We do.)

Not because we have the finest sports medicine experts in the country. (The docs all run.)

Here's the truth.

We dominate the sport of running because starting NOW, we are populated by squadrons of savage biting black flies and blood-sucking mosquitoes that leave giant welts … and worse. If runners are slow in Gainesville, we’ll be overtaken by merciless, winged tormentors. There’s a fine line between running and fleeing. So EVERYONE is fast. The minute you step outside the door, you gotta outrun these bad boys in order to preserve your health and sanity. Failure puts you firmly on the food chain. Suffering and disfigurement tend to be great motivators.

And as the Florida heat and humidity encourage blood-letting insectitude, the training gets better and better! By the end of summer, you’re either winning races or are in the care of a tropical diseases medical practice.

I know that I can sometimes sound like a one-runner Chamber of Commerce, extolling the fabulousness of Gainesville. Forgive a proud Floridian who loves the swamp with such passion that I cannot contain my enthusiasm for the virtues of training here.

If you’re interested in visiting and going on a run with us sometime, just let me know. You’ll love it here! I’ll load up on Calamine and Benadryl just in case you fall behind. (Does Nike make a Haz Mat suit???)