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The Squite Workout

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The idea of speeding up is less appealing to me than stretching runs into the far distance. Sometimes I look at the gathering of trees in the hills that I run to and recognize where I'd once stored thoughts of what had been ailing me and am reminded of how enormous nature is, capable of absorbing so much thought and still go far beyond it, when those same thoughts, when trapped inside my mind, become unwieldy. Once in the forest, they blend in and gradually disappear: replaced with an almost inert snail on the path, syrupy summer air, the call of fighting jays. They beckon the mind out of itself and into the intricacies of creatures, plants, wind, weather. A unity is achieved, a balance restored.
I occasionally speed up when I feel like it though, like to chase or pass the occasional other runner I encounter.
But this month, I got a new training partner. It was after the rain. I was slogging up the steep, barely-a-trail that cuts straight up through the more tangled trees to the t…

the Barkleys: a ballad (without stanzas)

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cuddlie kittehs @ brushy mount?

to go there expressly past 
ersatz awards for arbitrary stopping points
and Daily Planners forgetting what it means to try
together but to be alone
up there with the gorges, bluffs, and Platonic caves
even a headlamp becomes a shadow
so beyond things as to lose is to find
the self, or the terrain, a breathing underworld
what life is like underwater for years now
all this grey coming down
in strokes for traction, where’s the gravitude on this bed
of ocean, where do I lie, or do I stand among wet sand
a conch, and then the sleet
in lines to fall while yet inclining
to take that leg out of that swamp
to feel the briars scratching
the sound of a mind on doubt
puffs white smoke, an effusion from
the psychosomatic nature of feet for the
underbrush that tears
at this amusement of the motion to persist
too easily slips out from under
even the one who has done it.
what is capable.
no one has ever been here before, ever
in reverse, the bodymind ticks like a
mea…

won't stop

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A great song featured on episode 60 of The Trail Show has a guy singing in falsetto: Back on the trail, back on the trail, we won't stop 'til we get up that hill. It has that same talismanic motivational power for me as the phrase: I eat hills for breakfast. When I think of these phrases on long runs, they make me laugh "which is nice" (link takes you to the almost eponymous Fast Show sketch) except that chortling internally makes me run slower.
I love so much the 'mini training' that distance running gives; I do not know if it is because this was instilled in me through the Outward Bound camps that removed me from my otherwise asthmatic and, also, relatively inert childhood. But even on days when I am less motivated to get out, I know that once I get to the hilly forest, I will not regret the views, and also, that the fitness I build by getting out consistently will reward me on days when I really need to puff my way to an uphill panorama. And then, all of t…

I don't know why she swallowed a fly

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Actually, I do. It's when the little bugs and flies suddenly leap to life on an early spring day and probably inebriated with joy at being out again can suddenly fly directly into an uphill-induced, momentarily open mouth. Then down the gullet out of sheer velocity.
Anyway, after imbibing said drunken fly, I had that "There was an old lady" song stuck in my head for the next 20k, which flew by as I couldn't help chuckling at the impossible song; I am sure I looked really sane powered by a goofy grin as I flew down the hill. Or maybe the fly gave me wings.
So I am going to file this post under "nutrition".

What spring looks like. Besides the flies.

departures, returns

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How is it that we speak of "straying" from ourselves? What can you do to return to to yourself if you have strayed; how might you know if you have; how long does it take to return - and is there a point of no return?
I would love to get answers to these questions from as many people as possible.
Of course, it's possible to think about these things on a more global scale, too - like in the book The Mushroom at the End of the World, an anthropological meditation on the now capitalist implications of the pursuit of the matsutake mushroom (a book I learned only of via a review of its French translation).
It seems like we expect that we are able to fathom the consequences of our pursuits and wanderings, given our "rational minds" - even though even a single jog through the country park may begin out of several reasons, give rise to several more, so have several possibly conflicting consequences to keep track of. A mushroom, the matsutake, that was once used in a sym…

steeper

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Life got steeper in previous months: I no longer had time for blogging, or sleep. But then, I found myself two weeks ago on a literally steep mountain. For the first time in over a decade, I was running on a trail absorbed with boulders, stones, tree roots that wound around a coast, getting higher and higher - until I suddenly happened upon a large Indian family, whose little son blurted: you are going so fast! And I took their photo for them as they laughed on New Year's Eve, and I regret now that I was so deep in thought on that run that I did not ask them if they would mind sending me photos of that view, care of altitude.


It is supposed to be marathon-training season for me, but after those mountains, the very ones from my childhood, I don't see the point. I signed up for the marathon in the past two years to make sure I would train through the winter where I live now, replete as it is with winds that freeze hair. But I have come to love the days of inclement weather just …

slower roads

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It has been a strange summer. For a while, I was doing regular 18 mile runs in 95F+ heat, until I suddenly lost the will to run, totally exhausted. This week, I jumped back into mid-range mileage, and feel less out of shape than encouraged because my running form seemed to come together, which was confirmed by a friend, who called it "finally harmonious" (!) This took two years to accomplish - admittedly, with no coach and along the slow road. The past two years have felt like the trial of investing an immense effort, more than I can fathom, unsure if I will finally arrive "somewhere", with something to show for it, though I have felt moved to "keep on". But like my now-improved running form showed me, a run I took yesterday also illustrated that there is something to be said for perseverance, even sans the coach one wishes for.
At one moment during the run, I thought, how can I possibly go 2/3 further, and the next moment, the distance - seemingly of lif…