Saturday, October 24, 2009

Waking-up the Senses with a Good Run

(Today was a crisp, fall day - much like the day our family had pictures taken a few weeks ago, just after the fog lifted. Yes, all four of us were hula hooping for this shot. I love how the photo screams FALL is here!)

This morning two friends met me for a trail run. As it turns out, I met each of the women through my children's schools - and we each have a child in kindergarten and a 2 year-old daughter. Our shared passion for running and sneaking in some "me time" for an early morning run made it easy for us to slip easily into a 9:30 pace for a 4.2 mile run.

As we were running and chatting I was hit by how everything seems to come together on a run. My frustrations with my non-sleeping children melted away as our conversations drifted from home improvement projects to college days to how we met our spouses. On this foggy, fall day, things became clearer in my mind and I became aware of how running wakes my senses:


- Though I never focus visually on anything in particular while running, I can match just about every run with something inspiring or quirky that I passed. Today the fog tickled the upper branches of the trees and blanketed the cows in the valley along side us. It was like being part of the calm part in an old war movie.


- I had to rethink my hill running day choice after a few weeks of dodging garbage cans and their odors on our community's garbage day. I smile when I pass by homes on their laundry days when I can identify the family's fabric softener brand. Today's trail smell confirmed that we are waist-deep in autumn - cool, damp air and a breeze that hinted that the cows really were out there in the fog somewhere.


- My favorite running sound is tied to race days. After the starting horn the pitter-pattering begins. Hundreds or thousands of feet hitting the pavement at once makes for quite a raucous. The sound gets my heart rate going with the excitement of being part of something so much bigger than myself. This morning's run was marked by the crunches and swishes of our six feet navigating the thick carpet of sycamore leaves. While today's weather was calm, the previous three were filled with rain and strong winds, encouraging millions of leaves to release their hold to the trees and rest on the path.


- What runner hasn't been treated to the salty taste of sweat making its way into their mouth during a summer run? That's what usually comes to mind when I think of the taste of running. But my Saturday morning trail runs have changed my thinking. The last few weeks I've been treated to a big breakfast when I returned home: eggs, bacon, toast and even hash browns. Now THAT'S my preferred taste-association with running - post-run goodness!


- With the onset of cooler weather, I've become more aware of hand comfort on my morning runs. I've heard many a runner talk about how they don't like running with hot hands, but I prefer sweaty hands to icy cold hands. This morning the gals found me with my hands happily wrapped in my running gloves - a gift from the principal when I taught 3rd grade 5 years ago. Those gloves have been an essential part of many a run. I did shed them at the end of the fourth mile today, but am glad I grabbed them on my way out the door and went with the running jacket with pockets!

Next Saturday I have to fore go the usual trail run, but I'll have my two kids in tow for a family run (1.7 miles, I think) that supports youth programs at our local YMCA. I'll be signing books during the pre-race excitement to raise funds for their scholarship program. I wonder what my senses will notice at the event . . .

What sense is most heightened for you when you run? Do you have a favorite place to run because of it? Do share!