I.

Taking one day away
Too all the aches and pains down
“Take another, kid”

II.

Getting off my feet
Letting muscules recover
Has been a blessing

III.

A mental struggle
Shutting down effortlessly,
A body needs rest

Time of day really matters
Miss a morning run,
Pay for it in the afternoon sun.

That’s when the feet barely patter
Lungs hurt a ton
Making the time little fun

So at daybreak cut the chatter
You’ll know when you’ve won
Because the exercise will be done.

Thick, the air was thick,
Sweat started to flow
Just about as soon
As I stepped out of my car.

A quick Mr. Rogers moment
Where I changed into some trail shoes
Preceded a Shackleton glimpse of the map,
This being my first time running on this track.

Into the tropics I went,
Hitting a hill within the first hundred yards,
The heavy air was hard to breath.
My heart rate skyrocketed.

All I could do was walk a bit to encourage my lungs
To relax, to work efficiently, to help my heart.
Before long I was running, listening to my easing breath,
A steady pace allowing an inner smile.

Because I don’t really smile on the outside,
But that’s not the point, I was really happy on this path,
The dirt slick from rain and humidity, the trail narrow,
Single track, made more slender by summer’s vegetation.

Light streamed through the trees,
But there wasn’t a hint of a breeze, and
After one lap, I committed to another,
This time turning right at the fallen tree, a different way.

Which was awesome, a new look, a random connection
Taking me on a novel journey through the woods,
Over the slick trail, while the heavy air
Gradually became nothing but an afterthought.

The third lap followed the original route,
Familiarity was coming quickly, that root, that rock,
Each a marker to remember and an alert
That I must not forget about this special place.

After most of an hour, I exited the woods after being alone,
A place I was all too prepared to be as I dried off,
But a guy named Dave came over
Fully intent on having a conversation.

He was restoring the old mill house, along with Jeff and Mike.
The house had been slated for a controlled burn
So the fire company could get some experience,
But conservancy won out and now Dave had some work.

He talked about blending old construction techniques
With modern appearances for his contemporary jobs.
I shared that I used live in colonial homes that were built
Back when his techniques would have been modern.

He was the first stranger conversation I’d had in a long time,
Maybe since March, nearly four months ago.
He went back to work, I squeezed the sweat from my shirt,
Pulled my Mr. Rogers move again, and drove home.

Smiling.

There was a moment today
When what I thought I knew
Proved only to be a memory,
Long held over for at least a decade or so
And erased in the course of a few seconds.

See, a ways back in my life,
The Fairthorn hill was only sort of tough,
That was until you reached the STOP sign.
From there it was a walk to the peak.
All these years later, now it’s a run to the top,
Walking isn’t “allowed” until the downslope.

I was thinking about that little bit of road,
Fairthorn and how much better it is than Sickle
When I got all pandemic courteous
And started weaving around a mother-daughter pair
Before mentally mapping how I would navigate
The lone walker up ahead.

Back when Fairthorn stopped short,
There was a runner who did all the crazy stuff I’ve entertained,
Longer and longer, that’s what I’ve been thinking,
Which is exactly how that dude ran years ago,
Gumpian, out early, out at lunch, out in the evening
He ran so much and was so disciplined
He could tell how fast you were running just by watching.

I checked out from the group for awhile,
He kept traversing the earth,
In ten years, I’ve maybe seen him three or four times.
I assumed he was out there chasing the eagles
While I toyed with the idea of going long,
Of pushing my limits into that thin air.

As I approached, Locust, there he was, the walker.
Once he had been a runner, not twisted into a question mark,
His pace, something he probably never thought he was capapble of,
Was approaching cane or walker slow,
Which was off pace for a guy who used to grind the miles away.

We exchanged runner-social-distancing pleasantries, I turned on
Locust, a longish hill, where there’s normally a walk break
Which I never take when I’m solo and especially today
After seeing my old running partner hobbling down the road.
I thought of him, the uncertainty I felt, and the whispers began,
“That’s not you, mofo, get moving.”

I couldn’t help it, a runner’s mind sometimes runs away.
Controlling those thoughts when the doubt comes or
The negative distractions of excuses and fatigue
Combine to make quitting easier,
Isn’t that really the battle of being a runner?
Half way up Locust and just before Fairthorn
My mind was leaving me with little hope of continuing.

Yet, as I made the turn,
Thinking of my old partner’s chant of “chop, chop, chop,”
As he would baby step his way up any steep hill,
I found a way to pay attention to the whispers
Instead of the grammatical shape of my old friend
And the idea that I could be on his path.

The stop sign passed, barely even on my radar,
The 82-bridge felt new, I hadn’t run across it since March,
The end was nothing but a “walk in the park.”
Still, I’m wondering if the ultra game is for me.
I suppose I’ll let that stay open-ended for awhile.

Imagine my confusion
On this hazy morning at 10:30
When I’ve already taken a nap and
As the music coming from my cheap bluetooth speaker
Was the opening to A Tribe Called Quest song
Deeply buried in a running playlist,
But it was Lou Reed who started singing.

Is that how my parents felt when Little Richard sang?
Were they expecting Pat Boone?
A travesty there, at least “Quest’s” song goes somewhere good,
Not so absurdly vanilla.

The early Sunday haze has been enough,
To keep me hobbling, wobbling, not falling down,
But too non-committal to lace them up
And keep a pandemic inspired streak alive.
Yet, the welcomed mix up did something to my inner being,
So psychological and new age there, eff that,
I’m woke, up from whatever self-inflicted waste I was in.

Somewhere there’s a boat about to be picked up,
Maybe I’ll sing Quest, Lou, or Little Richard
Because there’s no confusion in a day
When music does its thing.

Something is up with my dog,
He’s acting strange lately,
Maybe he’s tired of us being around,
Maybe he’s tired of us sitting around,
He just seems a little different.

I got him a new harness,
He looks ready for a swim in it,
Like he might fly over Niagara Falls,
Like he could take a white water run,
The new harness is boss.

We’ve been going to new places,
Parks with mowed trails in cleared fields
He wants to run, not sprinting, normal, but trot
He wants to keep the pace slow and just go
Because the new place are so different.

He gets going, not normal for my balled up pit bull,
Setting a pace that is just above a walk
Nothing too furious,
Nothing too get crazy about,
Although, when we get home, it’s right back to sleep.

With all his yelps,
With all his hitches,
With the lightness that lets him protect us.
I guess everything is normal with him,
Except this little bit of running.