Time Passages was stuck in my head during my run yesterday. I sat around all day feeling crummy then forced myself to go running at 4:00 because I had an hour left before the new early sunset. There's something about fall that brings back memories for me. It could be the chill in the air or the smells drifting in the breeze, but I think it's a combination of feelings. Or maybe it's all because I've been sick and been forced to run really slow and have time to think.
My first real road race by myself was in the fall. I think I ran the Gold Coast 2 miler with a friend in the summer just before - must've been 1981. I ran the Fallfest Classic likely in October of 1981. Somewhere around here in a box I have a medal with an orange ribbon - I think I was first in my age division. I'm guessing it was a 5 miler or a 10k - I'm not sure. But I remember what it felt like to run back then. It was different in so many ways, but still the same somehow.
I grew up in Bellevue, Washington, USA. I started out running on a 2 mile out and back to Yarrow Point. Sometimes I ran a further out and back to Hunts Point - home to the Nordstrom family (my best friend lived next door to them), and Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band. My 4 and 5 mile loops went through Medina where Bill Gates now lives in his compound. The reason I know those distances were that long was because my dad told me and I believed him. I never measured them in the car (I was too young to drive). I didn't have any map software - nobody even had home computers yet. I have no idea how fast I ran - I didn't own a stopwatch - let alone a wristwatch. (In fact, my first watch was won at my first half-marathon in 1985. I had lettered the previous year in both cross-country and track, and I desperately wanted a letter jacket. My dad made a deal with me that he would pay for the jacket if I ran a half-marathon. I received the watch not because I ran fast, but because I was the youngest finisher that day. It was the Latitude 47° Half-Marathon which is still run today, but called the Super Jock n Jill Half-Marathon because of it's sponsor. The race finished at a winery, and they also gave out wine glasses with the race logo on them. One broke, but my other currently sits on our kitchen windowsill with spare change in it for parking.) I used to take my dog running on pretty much all of my runs. There were no leash laws so she roamed free - always had to be ahead of me, and didn't like to be passed. I ran through a park with a pond at a half-way point and she used to love to charge at all the ducks swimming in the water. She loved to chase other dogs and bark lots too - just for sport, she was a really friendly dog named Blue after a famous hunting dog. People yelled at me every now and then when she barked and chased, and they got angry, but I was just a kid - I did't really care all that much. I just called her back and we went on our merry way. I never had any concrete training plans, workouts, build-ups, tapers, race-strategies - I just ran. My older brother took me out on a hill circuit one time before high-school. We both reminisce and laugh about the fact that half-way through it I puked cause I pushed myself so hard - then I finished the rest of the hills. Another time he convinced me to go for a run in the middle of a hot summer day - just a couple of miles. We ended up going out 8 miles (I must've been 13 or 14 yrs old - probably never had run more than 6 miles - and that was only for a race), and we stopped at a friend's house and convinced him to drive us back home. When I started running on teams, I ran what the coach told me to run. I never questioned the training or how it would affect my racing. I don't think I even thought about it.
As I run today, the triggers that bring it all back are things in the air and all around. Things that remain constant year after year - the things of change. Leaves are falling and remain stamped all over the ground with the recent rain. A new squad of football players is out practicing on the field with lots of hollering and whistle-blowing. No matter what time of day you run, you can smell someone cooking and a fireplace warming someone's house. The smells seem to drift out into the cold and mix with the chilly air - teasing you as you run along. The early frost on the ground comes back every year. The sun returns to a slanted angle and filters the sunlight with an almost orange hue.
I think I get so involved with all of the logistics of running, that I forget the real enjoyment of it sometimes. I think my sickness has been a great thing for my running. I just get out and go without thinking about the mileage or the time or any upcoming races. I just run . . . and I love it. Somehow the training happens because you go by feel. You still have those days that you run hard and the ones that you run easy. You still feel sore and you still feel inspired. But you love it all a little bit more and it doesn't seem to feel like homework or a chore.
Funny that our oldest childest is now 10 - almost 11 - the same age I was when I started running. She begs me to take her running. She's done kid distance road races. She's done kid mini-triathlons. Some of her friends run, her sisters run, her cousins run. This year will be the 3rd year that she'll do the Seattle kids marathon. She doesn't own a watch. She doesn't drive a car to check mileage and doesn't use the map software. We live in the city and I don't think I've ever let her run out on the roads by herself. She loves the rain, she loves to stomp in the leaves and throw them in the air. She loves weather and never seems to get cold. She loves to chat about everything on her mind while she's running. She loves to run on trails. She simply loves to run. Maybe I'll take her with me tomorrow.