It’s been at least 70 degrees everyday for a week, and by Friday, the high is supposed to be 80. I have been out cleaning flower beds and gardens and planning what I’ll be planting very shortly. I know that by doing this, I’m setting myself up for a deep snowfall around mid-April, but I just can’t seem to help myself. This weather begs for hands digging in dirt and feet running barefoot through clover.
And it’s not just me. The kids have been outside every day from the moment they enter the front door, throw their backpacks onto the floor, and run out the back door. We’ve been getting into bed far too late in the evenings, mostly because I keep losing track of time. By the time the sun begins to dip in the sky and I realize that we are, in fact, really hungry, it’s around 7:00, and I still haven’t made dinner, run baths, or done our nightly reading. We have been quite delinquent this week.
Last night, both kids were running barefoot in the field trying to see a baseball in the dark as Rob pitched it back and forth with them. It was just turning dusk and we could see flashes of lightning off in the distance. These are my favorite days.
One of the new games at our house is Boy Scouts. Isaac is super excited that next year, he will be able to join the Boy Scouts, and I think Rob, an Eagle Scout, is just about as excited as he is. I overheard Harper Lee telling Isaac, “I have to inform you, Isaac, that I am better than most boys at everything” when he questioned her membership in his newly formed “Boy Scout Club.” After careful consideration, he decided that she would probably be a valuable asset and lifted his ruling that “only boys and Mom are allowed.” They spent the next two and half hours making cloth sashes and badges and building a secret hideout in the woods. They both earned their Fort Building badges and are currently working on Karate badges although the karate looks more like Ninjago spinjitsu than actual karate, but hey, whatever.
I’ve also found that Isaac is regularly enjoying his photography hobby. It used to be that I had to turn the camera on for him and let him take a few photos here and there. Now I plug the camera in to download pictures, and I find all manner of strange images that include everything from close up shots of his new tooth to videos of Lego men battling in square Lego lava. It’s sort of interesting actually, like a voyeuristic little glimpse into the mind of my six year old. I love how creative they both are. This week, I discovered that Isaac was the subject of the photo shoot and that Harper Lee had taken these mug shot-like pictures of him. It reminds me of that scene in Raising Arizona when Holly Hunter first meets Nicholas Cage when he’s arrested, and she shouts, “Turn to the right. Turn to the left” as she photographs and fingerprints him.
There’s no doubt about it—we’ve been living the barefoot life around here. This week, that was partly due to my swollen sprained ankle that I sustained during the Hanging Rock 12K on Saturday. It was one of the most technical courses I’ve ever run. I was pretty freaked out, to be honest, because I haven’t been feeling it during my training lately. I’ve hit one of those spots when every run feels like a battle against my body. I’ve had these before, so I know it will pass, but I was not hopeful about my performance on Saturday. I decided to change my mind set a little, and just go with the expectation that I would run and have a good time. I started off WAY under control. I thought it was a little slow, actually, but I decided to try it that way instead of going out aggressively and not having a very good time. (There is a time for that way of racing, by the way, but I didn’t feel prepared for that.) It turns out, I had a great run despite the fact that this course was not a course that plays to my strengths.
The race director, at the start line, actually told people that if this was their first trail race, they had “picked the wrong one” and then she urged folks to just take their t-shirt and go home, that there was no shame in it. What? It was the weirdest pre-race pep talk I’d ever heard, but OK. Fortunately, everyone who signed up did not listen and ran it anyway, and I think it was a good day for everyone, even Barefoot Josh whose sandal strap broke early on and whose toes were pretty gnarly after kicking a root.
I felt on top of the world by the time we made the steep descent through rocks and roots and general terrible footing. In fact, I was running faster than I had imagined I would, and I still felt decent. In the last 2K, the trail started to open up into smoother, flatter footing, so I picked it up and, finally, for the first time in a long time, I felt strong and like my body remembered what it was doing. Then I rolled my ankle.
I mean, I rolled it—sickening crunch and everything. I fell into a rhododendron and hung there for a few minutes as the guy behind me stopped to help. It hurt like no ankle roll I’d ever had before. This one seemed like it might take more than a few seconds to shake off before running again. I sent the guy on and said I’d be all right. I limped along, unable to step down over rocks with my left foot. Hmmmm… 2K to go.
Then a clump of runners came by. Everyone expressed concern and offered to send help. I smiled and said I’d be fine but they could mention it to a race official if they happened to see one. I kept limping. I think there were some thirty-something women in that group. Dang.
Another group came by. Same thing. Eventually, I was not limping as much, and I realized that nobody was probably coming, I was only less than 2K away now, I had never had a DNF, I had to get back to the car somehow, and there was at least one more 30-something woman behind me. I ran the rest of the way. It was sort of lop-sided and ugly, but then, most of my race finishes are, so what the heck.
I finished and placed third in my age group despite rolling around in the rhododendrons like a wounded animal for Lord only knows how long. Once I stopped and the swelling began, Crystal found an ice pack and wrapped me up in one of her running shirts (one of the many reasons I
would choose Crystal as a wilderness survival partner), and we headed home. The irony of this is that I ran a hard as crap course and didn’t get hurt until it got easy, but the great thing is that I still felt really good about my run. It was fun for the first time in a while, and isn’t that the whole point?
I may have to try some barefoot running to coincide with my barefoot living in order to strengthen my obviously weak ankles.