During my most recent weekend of teacher training, I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had. Not only did we learn the specific names for our forearm muscles (Extensor Mr. Ouchiness, was the scientific name, I believe), we spent hour upon hour in poses feeling, using, and exhausting those muscles. Let’s not even mention the shoulders! Sufficed to say, soaking in Epsom salts has been my saving grace. So what did I do after 16 hours of teacher training over the weekend? Got up at 5 am on Monday to teach Yoga on the Run! Can you say Yoga Overdose?! Maybe a little, but I am having so much fun with this journey!
So there is lots of yoga in my life, but I am still making time for my love of running as well.
Recently my running buddy and I discussed the joys of running outside. I have never done much time on a treadmill. Living in a mild climate in the winter and being willing to run in predawn hours during the summer, I have never had much need. I remember running on the treadmill once in June Lake over Thanksgiving Break at the Double Eagle Spa to get in some miles on a snowy day and it was pure torture. The only distraction was watching Paula Deen stuff a turkey on the screen display. Watching the Food Network while running on the treadmill may be a distraction, but I cannot remember ever feeling hungrier on a run!
One of the things I love about running on the trail near my home is the people watching and yes, I have my favorites. I don’t know these people; they are strangers. Yet I am so fond of seeing them; they seem to be friends in a way. Thus. I consider them strange friends. Part of my running entertainment is giving these folks amusing and endearing names and imagining their life stories.
First and foremost, there is Sarong Sage. This lovely lady is always wrapped in a colorful tapestry, looking very exotic except for her circa 1980s white Reeboks and tube socks. Happy wrinkles are carved on her tan face and I am guessing this grandma is in her 90s. She strolls the stretch slow and steady. I see her almost every time I am on the trail, regardless of day of the week or time but especially early mornings. I like to pretend, she rolls out of bed butt-naked at the crack of dawn, wraps herself in the nearest colorful embroidered sheet from a collection she has amassed through a lifetime of travel, puts on her tennis shoes and walks back and forth on that trail all day as a meditation on life. That is exactly what I hope to do when I’m retired!
Then there is No-sun Nellie, who I totally empathize with because before I hit the trail, I slather on copious amounts of sunblock, shades, and a cap. But Nellie is out there running with a full brimmed sun hat, a kerchief that is pinned to her hat covering all of her face but her eyes (I imagine her breathing must create her own little sauna, hot and steamy), and she wears gloves even when the weather is the 80s. You go Nellie, skin cancer can’t touch your speedy self! You’ll outlive us all!
Finally, a recent favorite is The Birdman Biker. He is not actually a biker but the fact that he ALWAYS wears a black leather vest puts me in mind of a biker. This fellow has a tough look but his gentle character is exposed as he pitches peanuts out of his pockets to Blue Jays in the bushes. I can only imagine the inside pockets of that leather vest, like the floor of the Northwood’s Inn or a BBQ joint with sawdust floors, due to all the crushed up peanut shells he’s toting around. I imagine he hangs the vest on a coat rack when he gets home and meticulous reloads his pockets knowing an exact number of peanuts he will need to feed his regular feathered friends on the trail each day.
One of the joys of running for me is interacting with others. Whether just through a friendly and knowing nod from a fellow jogger or a heartfelt hello with one of my regulars, I love being out in the world, soaking up the beauty of nature and reveling in its peace with like-minded souls.