The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Heart Overflowing

The alarm sounds.  What day is it?  Oh, yes, Saturday.  The alarm is sounding by my choosing. I roll out of bed careful as to not disturb the flu-ridden little boy laying next to me; who after two sleepless nights managed to sleep through the night.  After slipping on my running gear, I tiptoe to the kitchen in an effort to keep sleeping boys sleeping, just down the hall was a room full of teenage boys who I suspect may have just fallen asleep.

A quick breakfast of hot oatmeal helped prepare me for the winter cold that lay just outside the door.  My shoes, double laced, and I was ready to begin my 18 mile training run.  Stepping into the darkness I was greeted by the brightness of a near full moon.  Stars were hidden behind the moon's brilliance.

The north eastern winds blowing hard ushered in colder feeling temps than the thermometer's 25°.  The bitterness of it stung.  Weaving my way through the neighborhood, I reached the point where I would make my first of 4 loops.  A rather mundane route would make up the mileage today; a necessity warranted as being a mom is my first priority and a household of hungry boys would awaken as my run would end.

Beginning the first loop, the wind was mercifully at my back.  Cold temps have a way of quickening the pace and I was running a good strong pace.  In this direction, the moon stole my attention, with the light of it's fullness cascading down on to the surrounding farmlands.  The land slept peacefully, with only the milking farmer at work in the parlors.

The turnaround part of the loop brought me back into the hardness of the winter wind, slowing my pace and reminding me that a marathon-paced run would only be possible on the first half of each loop.  Mount Baker and the Cascade foothills stood with regal grandeur on the horizon.  The blackness of the night was slightly losing it's hold to the pre-dawn greens and blues that herald the arrival of reds and oranges of a rising sun.  The mountains were perfectly outlined with this hint of morning's dawn. 

At the completion of the first 4 mile loop, I relished in the thought that the completion of the second loop would be a half way point for me.  With the route being extremely tedious, this would be a great mental exercise as well as physical endurance building.  At the start of the third loop, I told myself the next loop would be my last.  This mind game worked and the miles passed quickly.  

By the last loop, the moon was lost in the horizon and the sun's rays peeked over the mountain range.   The bitterness of the 30 mph northeastern wind stole the golden-rayed warmth of the winter sun and wearied me.  At last, the final loop was complete.  

I turned toward the neighborhood to make the final mile and half of my run.  A few homes began to come alive, while others remained dark in slumber.  My thoughts drifted to the meal I would make the boys when I got home.  I realize I am hungry.  

Rounding a corner, I was startled from thought when I heard, "Hey Mom!"  Glancing over my shoulder I was surprised to see my son and his friends out in the neighborhood.  I asked them what they were doing up so early and why they were out in this freezing cold.  A numb smile crept across my frozen face when they boys explained they were looking for me so they could run the final mile with me and keep me company.  Touched beyond measure, I finished my run in the presence of the future's greatest men and with a heart overflowing.    

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Step Backs and Sunrises

There is a gift given each runner during marathon training; it's called a "step-back week".  This is the point in the training where mileage is reduced in an effort to give the body a little extra rest.  Every fourth week most plans call for this reduced mileage and this week was my step-back week.  

Training can take on a life of it's own and often consume one's mind with tempo runs, track workouts and distance runs.  The reduced mileage allows not only the body to rest but also the mind, and I was looking forward to "just running".

After months of double digit long runs, today's long run was to be a whopping 5 miles, and I couldn't wait.  My friends were scheduled to meet me at a trail head at 7:15.  I left the house a little before 7 just as the sun was thinking about peeking over the Cascade mountains.  Grey clouds scattered the sky teasing the threat of rain.

Parking the car, I saw people milling about making their way in and out of the coffee house.  My friends and I rolled in within minutes of each other and left the city behind as we hopped on the Railroad Trail.  The trail seems to transport us into the woods even though the city lay right outside its boundary.

Scattered behind me were strewn the stresses of my week.  Each step delivering me further down the trail and farther away from the anxieties that had been nipping at my heels.  This run was exactly what I needed.

My friends and I talk endlessly trying to get a week's worth of happenings condensed into a 5 mile conversation.  The talk flowed easily and light, mimicking the pace we kept.  We followed the trail leading us across from one of the town's biggest lakes.  Nestled at the bottom of a hillside, the dark waters spoke of the lake's depth and the winter's cold.   Reaching the top of the trail, we were stopped in our tracks at the beauty of the exploding sunrise over the mountainous hills spilling its rays onto the stillness of the waters.  We stood in awe of the beauty we beheld.

Reluctantly we left the lakeside and turned ourselves back to the direction we had come from.  High aloft a winter's tree, a dilapidated hawk's nest stood exposed; spring's green leaves would soon arrive making the nest once again a home.  The trail began to hum with activity as the sunrise brought people out from the warmth of their houses and out into the nature around them.

Our easy run ended almost as quickly as it began affording us the luxury of enjoying a hot coffee at the corner coffee house. I glance around the table and think back to one year ago when I knew none of them.  Now after miles together, I can't imagine my life before them. How blessed am I to have easy miles, breath-taking sunrises and friends at my side to enjoy it all...