Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Go Slow and Pay Attention

I took Sister Biscuit, ChaHu Extraordinaire for a trail run on her favorite trails yesterday. We call that #TrailRunningTuesday and she is the #TrailRunningChaHu for those wondering. It really does put the fancy in her feet and makes her nearly sparkle. She and I hadn’t been on the trails since maybe April. I kept thinking surely I’d taken her in May, but now I think I probably had not. We were preparing for graduation, doing last minute scout stuff to ready our son for his Eagle and we had a graduation party and company come in (It was the last time I saw my mom too). So, now that I really think, I don’t think I’d taken her to her favorite trails since April. 
See her sparkle?!

The trails are so peaceful, no matter what kind of day, what the temperature is or what pace we do or don’t run. On the way to our run I noticed there were a lot of things that had changed since I checked out in July, with the sudden death of my mom, Susan. For instance, the huge corn fields on the corner down the road are now apparently, “The Future Home of An Additional School” and another farm area is now three houses. Sigh… some call it progress. And when I say, “checked out” it really does feel like from July 9 on, is the “after” and everything before is of course, the normal life I used to have. It’s been the longest two months of my life and it’s been incredibly difficult. 

I needed those running trails as much as the dog did and when we got there, I kept thinking we would just Go Slow and Pay Attention to all of the things the trails had to offer. Seems as though, even the trails changed without us.

Driving up I immediately noticed the huge rocks that lined the parking lot were no longer there (I found where they went after) and this was a good change, as I had crashed into them a few years ago…

We set out on our first run together since April and having not gone on those trails, Sister quickly grew into her old running self when she stepped paw to pavement and dirt. She, I swear, looked back at me and smiled. And that little ‘smile’ made my heart happy. I always let Sister lead the run, because it’s her favorite thing ever. She was cautious at first and stayed behind me for a bit. We always have to Go Slow and Pay Attention for the beginning of the run and she likes to sniff EVERY THING EVER. But once we rounded the first corner, off she went in front of me. The smell in the air had changed and I noticed there were already a bunch of leaves that had fallen and covered some areas of the trail. Change. I’m ready to change seasons. 

We went slow for the first mile and Sister chose her next trail, the next turn. We stayed on the TNT trail that heads out to a huge field that has corn. That too, has changed as it’s now soybeans. We kept on, and knowing what hadn’t changed was that we’ve never encountered anyone on that part of her trail, so I let her off her leash. It’s exciting for her and I like to take that in for myself too. 
To the left, to the left... no more corn to the left, just soybeans.

We kept on at a slow pace and paid attention to our surroundings. I could hear in my head what my mom always told me when she knew I’d be on the trails, “You better watch out for snakes.” After making that statement she’d make a silly shudder of a sound because she HATED snakes. We didn’t see any yesterday and mom would be pleased at that. 

I kept thinking about how things all looked a little different. There were areas of the trail that were overgrown as if they hadn’t been groomed since last we ran there. Because they were overgrown, we had to Go Slow and Pay Attention. 

Most times when running on those trails with Sister, I don’t have in my earphones, because I need to be able to hear when a cyclist might be coming or another dog, or hear the crazy squirrels when they want to chase the dog and she them. It’s nice to hear the foot hit the ground and the crunch of the leaves or limbs and rocks underneath my feet. I like to hear the dog too; her little pant, her little tiny feet and the way her collar sounds when she’s on the leash. I like to soak in the surroundings and Go Slow and Pay Attention. It’s the beauty of the dirt trail run and how it’s completely different from a road run or even a gravel trail run. 

On our turn around, we picked up the pace a bit (actually 2:32 less than on our way out). We knew what was coming, where the dips are made from the bicycles, where the scat is from the animals, we know where the bodies are located (there’s always something dead and fluffy out there). We know our way out but we know our way back even better. There’s always a little sadness in my heart when we round that last corner and see the run coming to an end back at the parking lot. Even when there are changes to the area, we still know where we’re going to end up. And then, we know where we want to go back to the next time. It all comes from appreciating what life is giving you, the bumps, the rough patches, the scary dips and the smooth parts too. It is tough sometimes and requires you to Go Slow and Pay Attention to the good things and the things you may even want to just skip right over.

Go Slow and Pay Attention to not just before and after, but to all the things that change while you’re not there to see and all the things remaining. It’s hard and I’m trying my best.

By the way, the huge rocks are now lining the parking area of another gravel trail that I previously only “illegally” ran. The park rangers have removed the no trespassing signs and the trails are no longer forbidden… at least I think.

Be careful and happy running y’all.