Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh, what a tangled web we run ...

Being the first runner on the trail in the morning is a special privilege indeed. I run on dirt that seems primeval and pristine except for animal prints -- deer and raccoon and something with large paws and claws (the source of which I do not allow my imagination to consider; "kitty" will do).

I glide through clear, soft, cool morning air, lost in thought.

And then suddenly the air is electric around me. Snapping and crackling like a zillion volts of charge exploding across my face, shooting out to either side. Shock and fear grip me. I flail around, trying to save myself.

I have run though a spider web so large and so strong that shattering all the tensile threads of silk is audible and actually slows me down. I'm caught.

It's a typical morning for a Florida runner.

When we are entirely too enthralled with watching our feet (fixated on snake avoidance) and we fail to pay close attention to the air in front of us, we WILL accidentally run through a spider web. It is inevitable. But ... this isn't just any spider web. This is a Florida spider web. Roughly resembling a tuna net. Home to a spider the size of a baseball glove. And he has spent all night weaving his silk across the trail to trap unwary, tasty prey. As a meal, a catch your size is a delight, but you are messier and more destructive than he had counted on. This is why he's now in your hair, pissed off.

This morning BEV was the spider's catch.

The spider and I both survived. He's busy reweaving and repairing his web, still pissed off. And I'm still swatting at every twitch of my body, sure that he's still on me somewhere in spite of a shower.

Today's lesson for the first runner of the morning is this: Watch the trail. The WHOLE trail. Look up frequently. And carry a stick that you can wave in front of you to take down the spider silk as you glide through. The second runner will thank you. And don't worry that all the spiders of the forest trail will begin to recognize you as the webinator that you are ... and they know where you live ...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bev is obsessed with rain now.

Tourists who visit Florida have this fantasy that our state is about SUNSHINE! And while the brochures are telling the truth, they often neglect to mention that it rains every afternoon.

It has to. Without an afternoon soak to cool us off, Florida would be like a sweat lodge on the Sahara.

Runners have to decide. If you want to run dry, you gotta go in the morning. If you don't mind the downpour, the day is wide open.

This photo was taken out my front door, and although it's in color, it looks black and white, doesn't it?

I know that this week I've been fixated on weather rather than discussions of running. I can't help it. It's that time of year again. And all runners are attuned to "outside." I love the afternoon rain and the beautiful contrasts in a forest that darkens and disappears into mist, and then reappears in flashes of lightning.

I love being a Florida runner ... wet or dry. Okay, mostly I love it DRY. (Notice I took the photo from INSIDE the house! HA!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Running on the beach ... does it get better?

If it's true that a photo is worth a thousand words, I'll spare you detailed blathering on escaping the insanity of last week and finding peace with sand in my shorts at the end of a gentle day.

While Florida can be a harsh place to run (heat and humidity!), it can also deliver a silent, pastel moment that lets you know that all is right with the world. This photo was taken last night right before a half moon rose. I swear I'll never whine about the storms again ... until next time.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FLORIDA: Weather or not we like it

What part of the large thunder-buster on the right did I not understand when I looked up and smiled on the blue sky and fluffy white cloud???

I had an important appointment to keep, but within minutes, had to pull over and let the monsoon have the right of way ...

... and I wondered what the weather is like where YOU live and run.

Como frijole? How've you bean?

As we all know, I have been on a fresh food kick for the past month. For a girl who lives in a forest, this can mean almost anything because even road kill qualifies as “fresh food” if you get out there fast enough with your shovel ...

But we’re talking about fresh-off-the-farm VEGETABLES, darlings.

Friend Nete, always looking out for my best interests, signed me up for a bushel of shelled white acre peas at Rogers Farm north of here. Yes. I was REGISTERED for peas. Michael and I had to drive up there and claim them by appointment or risk ticking off the farmers, an agricultural “dis” that I’m sure has consequences involving waking up with a pit bull head in your bed.

Going to the farm for peas was glorious! First, I've never owned a bushel of anything. (Maybe I've owned a peck. But I can’t confirm that; I don’t know what a peck is.) And second, the experience of bellying up to claim MY peas and seeing my name in pencil on a damp list was thrilling.

Anyhow, I got so caught up in the moment, I also bought a bushel of lima beans, which required no registration. Free-range lima beans? This was heady stuff.

I went right to work to "put them up" like Nete taught me. (Yes, freezing lessons.) I even wore an apron. I gotta say. When the work was done, there was something marvelous about admiring a freezer full of vittles that will see ya through the winter. I felt so Earth Mother. So Pioneer Woman. So utterly Little House on the Prairie.

Then I remembered that I don’t actually LIKE peas and beans.

Uh oh.

I wonder if the Kenyan marathon runners’ quest for carbs is this complicated. Is this where we get the term COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES???

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heart Rate Monitor no longer my fave.

Every runner is on a quest for The Edge. Often it comes in the form of specialized equipment. I found the ULTIMATE!

Look what the county installed for runners who use the bike path right outside my neighborhood! It’s a state-of-the-art Runner’s Speed Monitor. Using a sensor, the RSM detects the runner and flashes speed up on a digital read-out. How great is that???

As in all technical equipment for athletes, trial and error were required to learn to use it to my full advantage.

I couldn’t get it to record me, no matter where in the road I positioned myself as I raced toward it. But I noticed that it easily detects and records cars. Being an analytical person, I concluded that the sensor might be set to pick up metal. So I covered myself in aluminum foil – a gleaming outfit (with hat) not easy to wear when the temperature is over 100 degrees. And I ran repeatedly toward the RSM.

No dice.

Unwilling to look a gift horse in the mouth, I knew there had to be a way for me to play with the newfound RSM. I did some testing in my car. Alas. I discovered that the lowest speed the RSM can record is 12 mph. This is a five-minute mile. Clearly, this RSM was developed for the Kenyans. Holy Nairobi, Batman!

Frankly, I am not that good. Yet. So now I have new goals. Hit 12 mph. Light up the RSM. Lose the foil.

It’s a Kenyan thing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Virtue from the garden!

Runner Bev is aglow with virtue today.

Friend Nete, who lives in the farming community of Newberry -- just west of Gainesville, has been raiding a neighbor's garden. (She has an engraved invitation, of course. The woman is NOT a felon.) Anyhow, she phoned last night to say that the bounty had been generous and she had a truckload of freshly picked vegetables with plenty to share! WOW! It's been forever since a garden-raider stopped by my door!

Our refrigerator is LOADED with tomatoes, cukes, yellow squash, and green peppers as fat as baseballs.

Our plates runneth over. There is NOTHING so amazing as summer harvest on a runner's dinner table!

And I'm not saying that our menus are not ALWAYS so healthful, but you gotta know that the table is unusual if I'm photographing a salad. And notice the shot is tight. Is this because I cropped out the hot fudge sundae? I'll let you wonder. In the meantime, I'm feeling saintly and organic.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Run is trashed and I couldn't be happier!

Today is TRASH DAY in my neighborhood (delayed to Wednesday because of Memorial Day). You know how exciting trash pickup is for Runner Bev. It means that the recycling bins were out this morning ... and I spent an hour trotting beside them. As you know, I LOVE the recycling bins. They provide me odd, speed-of-light, sidelong glimpses into the daily lives of neighbors. I never slow down. I never stop. I never stare. I never paw through and study. My rule is that a quick glance from corner of eye is sufficient and will not trigger restraining orders. A neighbor's right to privacy is as sacred as my unrelenting curiosity. Both can coexist.

Knowing small things about neighbors deepens my love and respect for them. This isn't a neighborhood of strangers anyhow. We are brothers and sisters of the hammock, bonded by harsh conditions and occasional disasters that demand that we all pull together with chainsaws and sandbags and generators.

But on most days and for the most part, we give each other space. You don't live out here because you're particularly social. You live out here because you need to align your soul with the deeper rhythms of seasons in forest and swamp. The neighbors are bonuses.

The run this morning was a study in who celebrated Memorial Day weekend with a bash and who celebrated with just his cats.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New place to run

Memorial Day provided a day and a half at our beloved Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico just west of Gainesville. Thought it was a good idea to touch base with Cedar Key and see it one last time before the oil spill reaches its pristine wetlands, clam farms, and abundant, secret fishing spots.

Don't rush, BP. Wouldn't want you to strain yourselves before AUGUST, when you think you might cap the gusher.

Sorry for the rant. I'm in love with the Gulf. It's where I go when my heart is unhappy or when my drained batteries need to be recharged. And I'm majorly confused and increasingly enraged by the Oil Spew without End. Today is the first day of Hurricane Season 2010 ... and I know things that inlanders don't know about disasters on top of disasters, so I'm thinking they should probably cap the well before the next time we see Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel -- sideways rain pelting his face and shredding his slicker as he struggles to remain upright and screams into his microphone from the howling beach at Cedar Key, warning us to vacate Florida immediately. Which could be TOMORROW. Oh, yah. This could get a LOT worse. It will. Mark my words.

But I digress (as I sometimes do).

Because the purpose of this blog is to yak about running, I wanted to let you know that Cedar Key, with soft island breezes and quaint neighborhoods and vast vistas of Gulf, provided a wonderful backdrop for running. A change of scenery can really spice up a workout program. And we have motivation to RUN in Cedar Key. It is populated by teeny winged demons called, "No-See-Ems." These are nearly invisible, entirely weightless insects that plague areas rimmed by marsh. One minute you're an oblivious innocent with a blood supply. And the next minute you're on fire and breaking out in welts. You can't see a No-See-Em, but you can FEEL 'em. Good news. You can also outrun 'em.