I only have one week left of summer vacation.  What happened?  Where did it all go?  The kids don’t go back to school for two
more weeks, but the college begins classes next Tuesday, and I haven’t really
prepared a darned thing.  I guess
that means my last week of summer will be spent rewriting syllabi and going
through recommended reading. 

Honestly, I don’t mind as much as I thought I would.  I’d love for summer to last forever,
but I also enjoy teaching, and Harper Lee is more than ready to see her friends
and begin 3rd grade.
Even Isaac seems excited about his brand new preschool.  And I love fall.  Fall has all the best stuff—cooler nights,
Harper Lee’s birthday, Halloween, falling leaves, pumpkins, cross-country,
camping and racing season.

Most falls in the past have been dotted with 5K road races
in between watching the kids at Surry Central run cross-country, but this
year’s race calendar is shaping up to be something a little different.  Right now, Crystal and I are in the
middle of the North Carolina XTerra Trail Series.  We’ve run the first two and have two more races to go.  These were meant to be training runs
for me, but quite unexpectedly, it seems that I am doing well in the points, at
least in my age group.  In fact,
right now, it looks like I might be mathematically hard to beat for the top
points finisher, which means I will get a free entry into the National
Championship in Bend, Oregon at the end of September.  This sounds much more impressive than it probably is.  I’ve done well, but I’ve also shown up
to all of these so far, and it’s conceivable that I go to the last two races
and get pushed so far down in the overall places that I don’t score a darned
thing, but I don’t think that will happen. 

Anyway, the National race will be beyond ridiculous, and I
have no illusions about how that will play out if, by some crazy chance, we end
up going.  I remember all too well
how it felt being the worst team in America at the National Club Cross-Country
Championships seven years ago, and that’s when I was fit AND fast.  Now, I’m just fit and really, really
strong, but it will still be like, as Rex says, “a Volvo station wagon lined up
against Ferraris.”  (This, by the
way, may sound like an insult, but he is telling the truth, I know exactly what
he means, and I’ve always been a fan of Volvos.)  Still, the chance to run a really cool race out West, where
I have never been but have always wanted to go, and the chance to take the kids
somewhere so beautiful would be one of those lifetime experiences you can’t
really pass up.  I will just have
to go into it with the full understanding that I will be getting my clock
cleaned.

Aside from that, it looks like my next big race will be the
New River 50K on Oct. 9.  Deanne
finds it ridiculous that less than a year ago, I was talking about the fact
that I would never run a marathon, but since then have trained, not once but
twice, for Pilot Mountain, run PMPB, which was one of the craziest marathons
you could pick for your first time out, and now, I’m getting ready for my first
ultra.  I guess it is weird, but I
have to admit, it kind of hooked me once I started.  In December, I was feeling pretty high levels of anxiety
about the whole thing, but now that I’ve done it and know that I can do it, I don’t
want to give up the trails.  I’m
not a good trail runner really; the trails break my rhythm, one of the only
things I have going for me, and I dread tight downhill turns, but running in
the woods is one of the best things around.  I’ve always said that I think there is something that
actually happens to me, physically, mentally, spiritually—I’m not sure how to
describe it—when I run in the woods, but it’s like a weight is lifted in some
part of me and I can fully breathe.
If there were a perfume that smelled like wet leaves and pine needles,
I’d buy every bottle I could get my hands on.

The 50K will be tough, and I’m not super jazzed about the
fact that it is relatively flat with no hills.  Flat only sounds good on paper, but after 31 miles of the
same motion, your legs tend to rebel.
At any rate, it will definitely be different from the Pilot Mountain
experience, but both Crystal and I think we will be just as prepared.  Crystal, quite naturally, has already
broken our training plan down into a 12-week program.  It promises to be another epic season.

We’re also psyched about the first session of our new
afterschool program, G-Force, which is a running program for girls, grades 3-6.  We’re hoping to meet for our fist run
the week after school starts so that we can train the girls for a local 5K at
the end of October.  Harper Lee, of
course, is participating and is really excited.  In fact, she’s running her first 5K on Aug. 21.  I told her that would be a good first
experience and would give her something to shoot for in October.  I think she’s pretty excited, and her
“hard” days have made good recovery days for me.  The afterschool program is designed to help girls gain
self-confidence and better fitness through running.  I’m really excited and nervous about our first meeting.  It will be a learning experience for
everyone.

It seems like I was just writing an entry about the
beginning of summer a few days ago, and somehow, I have let time slip away with
shockingly few entries in between.
It’s tempting to think maybe I wasted the summer, but then I look back
over the past two months and realize that we’ve gone to the beach, visited
grandparents, had a great season of swim team, had a great VBS, taken an online
art class, worked in the garden, played in the river, run a lot of miles, gone
camping, taken swim lessons, been to soccer camp, napped in the hammock, read
several good books, and kept a somewhat steady pace on the writing project.  The only effort that I kind of
abandoned was the garage and attic clean out, which was a matter of life and
death with temperatures in the 90’s nearly every single day this summer.  That’s one that will have to move down
to the fall “to do” list when things have gotten a little cooler.

When I think of our summer in these terms, it’s easier to
let it go.  With every season, new
opportunities await.  I think I
took some good ones this summer, and I’m looking forward to all that fall has
to offer.

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