Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dirty Birds • Dirty Moments • Dirty Thoughts

"At the drive-in
in the old man's Ford
behind the bushes
until I'm screamin' for more
Down the basement
lock the cellar door
And baby
talk dirty to me"

PCS has the best t-shirts, but this one is my favorite so far...

In my world, dirty is good.  One of my earliest memories is, as a 3-year-old, playing in a pile of dirt in our new yard, making a new friend who wandered over to see what I was all about.  I am forever grateful that I had parents who encouraged us to run out the door, barefoot, into the yard, woods and ponds, to dig and explore.  I am who I am because of those experiences, and I often tell my own children (who are growing up differently than I did) that coming home dirty is a sign of a good day.  Today was one of them.

In a conversation the other day about racing, I observed that there is a moment in every race that I wonder, "WHY am I doing this?"  Surprising even myself, I paused for a moment and quickly scanned back over as many recent races as I could.  Yup.  It pretty much happens every time, and I can usually remember exactly where I was when the thought popped up.  It only happens for a second or two and the other moments far outlast this tiny one, but it still happens.  

Today, during the Dirty Bird 15K Trail Race, I had the moment after I saw 3 people stumble and fall during the first 1/4 mile of the run (maybe even during the first 1/8).  We were still crowded on the narrow trail and they all fell victim to the rocks that were partially hidden under a blanket of leaves, waiting, like giant nesting turtles, to snap an ankle.  My own trip came much later, it was a soft fall, and it was a root, not a rock, that grabbed me.  After seeing others with bloody knees at the finish, I consider myself lucky!!

Looking back over the run, my report doesn't read like a story that unfolds over the course.  Instead, it is a series of moments that occurred like a connect-the-dots picture...draw the lines in between them, and it all becomes clear:

•road-tripping solo from Long Island to PA just to run in the woods • seeing the sunrise that came up behind me, the huge orange sphere peeking through the New York City skyline as I drove away • hearing the awesome race volunteers, especially the guy who saw the NY plate on my car and asked me with a tilted head, if I just drove this morning to do this?? Oh, and the woman who was cheering us on at the start, yelling, "TRAIL RUNNERS ARE THE COOLEST PEOPLE!" • feeling the hippie trail runner energy that was especially present today • seeing my favorite slogan of the day, on a female runner's hat: "I don't chase after boys, I pass them." • smelling the chimney smoke • hearing the distant, popping gunshots of hunters • running into the short but sweet reprieve from the rocky trail into a grove of pine trees, tall and thin, reaching for the sky, smelling like Christmas, their needles pillowing the earth • being inspired by the speed and agility of the strongest runners • saying a prayer of gratitude to the person who introduced me to this blend of insanity and joy, in a way, bringing me home.  I hope you received it • finishing strong • tasting the salty, creamy, warm soup as my body cooled off, I peeled off the dirty layers and headed home •

Dirty Shoes

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