Thursday, September 3, 2009

3:30am: Part VIII

Well, not exactly. I checked the moonrise/moonset last night before bed after seeing the moon rise before I went to bed…full and bright. I thought by setting the alarm at 3:15am, I might better my chances of running with Mr. Moon today. So 3:15am it was. I popped out of bed fully anticipating a brilliant run absent of a headlamp but instead guided by Mr. Moon's light. Based on my energy at 3:15am, I believe the triple shot of fresh-brewed espresso from last evening was still flowing in my bloodstream. However, upon checking the moonset chart, I realized my goal of running with Mr. Moon would not be realized on this day as he was scheduled to set just before the 4am hour. Still, I continued on my morning routine of brewing my espresso, unloading the dishwasher, and listening to some radio drama on WCRF. "I really just want to go and not come back today. If only a job weren't waiting and the rest of life beckoned…" Chores complete, e-mails answered, I donned my favorite pair of Brooks Radius with over 420 miles on them and stepped outside my garage door only to find Mr. Moon! He shined as bright as ever right in front of me in the western sky. So much for that moon chart I had referenced from the National Observatory. I considered not even taking my headlamp but left it on just in case a canine or rabid animal wanted to give chase on this God-send of a morning.

"Good Morning, Mr. Moon! I've got the perfect course for us today…yours!" I set out on his course, a rolling, farm-laden, pristine part of southern Portage County that I've deemed to him…and me on these days. It's hard to believe that looking back, I haven't had one of these days since May 13th of this year. It truly has been too long. I left the artificial light of my development and embarked along the country road almost always absent of vehicular traffic this time of day and stared straight ahead at Mr. Moon, the road fully illuminated by his light. As I approached the 1 mile mark, his light illuminated the entire countryside and the blanket of fog sitting atop the ready-to-be-harvested corn. It looked like silk with no sharp edges and soft and gentle. I look above and stars are there, but nowhere as bright as they were a few days ago. They are being dimmed this morning by Mr. Moon. Just ahead, I dip down with the road and enter the other end of this fog and can feel it on my skin. Above, Mr. Moon has gained a few rings of color, mostly orange, some green, and a hint of red created by my vision through the water vapor. Emerging from the other side, the rings disappear and he shines in all his brightness once again.

Turning left onto the rolling road, Mr. Moon is on the right and as of now, I haven't even thought about the fact that I'm running. Effortless, blissful, and in a state of euphoria…yea, that's how I'd describe it. "How can I bottle this up and share it with people…show them what they're missing out here?" This makes me wonder and recall a text my youngest brother sent me a few days ago. It went something like "Do you realize your wife and all of your siblings and spouses are now running?" I hadn't ever really thought about that before, honestly. But yea…he was right. None were before. Now, they all are. I responded with "yea…I'm smiling down deep inside" since credit is not what I seek nor anything like that. If I had anything at all to do with any of it, that is wonderful. But, to take credit? Heck no. It's one thing to inspire others but to motivate them out the door to get moving, they have to do that on their own and they all have…every one of them. In fact, that brother (Jim) was out at this very moment with Mr. Moon himself…I think he's found the magic that I've been loving and craving for so long…and realized this morning.

As I passed down and up the biggest "bowl" of a hill on the course, I approached the one farm house that always concerns me. It has giant trees which cast big shadows in the front of their home created by their buzzing light. It is here where one or two dogs…big dogs…have emerged lately. I slowed my pace and began running as if on clouds, not trying to make a sound but also peering as hard as I could into the pitch black shadows…ready to stand my ground and blind them with the 4 LEDs from my headlamp. Luckily, I pass without incident…surprised, though. At least one of them, the big white one, is normally out at all times…free to roam as he or she pleases. The last time it came right out into the middle of the road.

As I pass through 2 1/2 miles, I give a nod to the horses in the nearby pasture and also notice the moon is taking on an orangey harvest-moon type of look and rapidly descenting down to the horizon. "I sure do hope I can make it home before it disappears," I think to myself. As I turn the corner by the Catholic church, the geese are in the creek-bed nearby and a truck flys by from out of nowhere. I was on his opposite side so he paid me no attention. Good thing, too. I am in such a state of "un-touch" with reality, I could easily see myself getting hit by a car. Just past the church it gets dark due to tall trees and thick woods. The remaining light in the sky gives enough illumination but not too much. As I make another curve in the road, I notice a man on his enclosed front porch, reading his morning paper and having a cup of coffee, and his dog barking outside…tied up, thank goodness. Just past him is the spot where I spotted the mysterious smoking man last year. I remember only seeing the burning butt of his cigarette walking down his winding driveway. I always remember the irony of that moment as he puffs away days of his life and I'm out here ADDING days to mine. Well, he's not out today and I make the turn-around just past his house at the 3.5 mile point and head on home, Mr.Moon now directly behind me.

Entering back into that very dark corridor, overshadowed by trees, I'm immediately drawn overhead to the millions of stars which are now starting to take center stage on this early, crisp, 52F morning. I think to myself: "It's amazing how Mr. Moon, so grand and bright, can overshadow the 'big picture'…that being the landscape in the sky. He, on this morning, is grand and stands afront to all. On the big 'universal' stage, though, he is nothing more than a spec in the galaxy, if that. It's like that in life, isn't it? Things that appear to be the only thing important take center stage in our life and we ignore everything else. In reality, wouldn't it be better to notice it all? I mean…look at this sky!!! It's brilliant! It's beautiful!!" For me, I'm a runner, an ultra-runner in fact, any many believe that defines me. I'd be fooling myself if I said it wasn't a major part of my life…because it is. I'm also a dad, a husband, the guy who heads up the team at church that projects the words to the songs and images behind them on Sunday morning, a Navy officer, a neighbor, a son, a brother, a civilian employee of Uncle Sam (notice where I put that?!), and a friend to over 250 Facebook friends! (how did THAT happen, by the way?!) Geez, to only look at the moon and not the universe would be a sad mistake.

As I near home, I think about running and how I haven't thought about anything regarding it so far…my pace, my gait, my effort, future events, nada! My legs just keep churning away and carrying my body along for the ride…a sweet ride, I must say. I turn over my right shoulder and the moon is a brilliant orange and just barely visible over the tree-tops. The spotlight-white is gone and has been replaced by the fall glow we'll all be adorned here with soon in NE Ohio. In front of me, the horizon is beginning to show signs of the morning sun as the brilliant blue is glowing in the east. Above, the stars are starting to fade and soon will be invisible. They are still there…those stars, you know. They never go away. The universe always remains…begging to be noticed, to be recognized, to be appreciated.

Arriving back home at my garage door, I look to the west and Mr. Moon has gone away but will soon arrive yet again this evening in all his brilliance. A glance at my watch reveals 7.00 miles and shockingly, a pace just over 8min/mile. I always take a guess at my pace before I look and this time, I was guessing somewhere between 8:50/mi and 9:05/mi pace. "Wow!" For some, the 8min/mile is nothing. For me, it's been that way before. However, with months and months of training for the 100 mile ultra-marathon event, I have focused on slow, consistent L O N G miles. It is incredibly refreshing to have a run so nice, so peaceful, so easy…and have it be at a pace where I didn't even try to be at, but just happened. It's reassurance that I still have my "marathon legs"…good thing, too! The Akron Marathon is only 3 weeks away so those guys need to spruce up and put up! I guess those tempo runs mixed throughout the past several months have paid off.

Mr. Moon is awesome…better than awesome. I love my runs with him. I also love looking at those stars…millions of them…and noticing them. I just hope I do the same in life. Here's to a great run and a great opportunity to sit back and just simply…notice.


Mark Carroll said...

Awesome should send that to a magazine. It was great! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Awareness is key, Nick.
You are becoming.