Cliff Walk

Today I had a flashback.

Back in high school, Junior and Senior years, I had math classes for fifth period. Fifth period was always a dangerous time for me – long enough after lunch that food coma was starting to kick in, not close enough to the end of the day to have the bus as incentive to stay awake. Plus, I was good at math, and generally would work through the book in the first couple of months of class.

So, come springtime, I was bored out of my tree during fifth period.

The math classroom I’m thinking of was in a late 60’s vintage public school – low cinderblock buildings with lots of windows, and radiators along the wall. In early spring, the heat would still be running through the radiators to knock the chill off in the morning, but by afternoon, the windows would all be open to let in the breeze. With the windows came the sounds of birds playing, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass, and the coolness of the breeze.

Even better, I sat in the back row, right along the radiator. By fifth period, the sun was just beginning to come in through the window, at a shallow enough angle that I could lean back and have my whole desk in the clean light, leaving the rest of the room a dark nothing, the teacher drowned out by the hum of the radiator, and the distant rumble of the lawnmower trying to keep the honeysuckle from overrunning the schoolyard.

In other words, it was hardly my fault I’d spend most of the class dozing off, waking up only when called on, and irking the teacher to no end by being able to solve the problems on the board even when roused from REM sleep.

Today was one of those days at work. By about 3, there was no way I wasn’t going to leave early and get in a run. So, I did.

Waffled for a bit over where to go, and finally settled on the Cliff Walk. Parked at First Beach. Excellent choice – the student body of Salve Regina was out in force, with finals behind them or in progress. THe breeze was blowing, the birds were singing, and the sun beat down on my ears. Like yesterday, I set out sans anything battery powered, and ran.

Ran down to the ABC. Ran up to the Cliff Walk. Ran the cliff walk. Past Ruggles. Past the section where they’ve newly installed handrails, narrowing the path and taking away the tantalizing threat of being dashed on the rocks below (stupid lawyers). Ran the big rocks. Ran past the furthest I’d been before, and decided to run to the end.

Great choice. The miles just passed beneath my legs, and the parts where I had to scramble on glacier scoured rocks … well, they rocked.

Finally made it to the southernmost point of Acquidneck Island (Sorry – not quite the southernmost, but the farthest south on the peninsula with the spectacular mansions). The last mile before I headed back, there were college guys on rented bikes – looked like they were having a blast trying to go all singletrack on the hybrids. Proving again that the bike is an amazing machine, dependent largely on the rider.

The run back was interesting – Spent a decent time wondering if I were completely lost. Luckily, I wasn’t, and I rolled back to the car after about 7.5 miles.

Which is good – even with missing Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I’m within spitting distance of 20 for the week. Didn’t swim or bike, but hey? Who needs the QuickieMart?
Continue reading Cliff Walk

Long Run Thursday

Man – Last night was one of those nights where everything’s about as close to perfect as it could possibly be. I got out of the office at a decent hour, had a great chat with a friend, and made it home in time to get the yard mowed.

For the record, that’s twice for the year. I know someone is going to give me grief. But, if 30 minutes pushing the mower gets me a week’s worth of happy wife, it’s a burden I’m willing to share.

After I finished the yard, there was still a decent amount of twilight left, and Hey! I was all dressed to run, and sweaty to boot. So I headed upstairs, told the boys G’night, told the wife I’d be back in time for “My Name is Earl”, and headed out to do my bit to try to be a better person.

Dunno what it was about last night – maybe it was just the results of my unintentional “taper” (I hadn’t run/biked/swam since Sunday), maybe it was just residual stress from work (he he!), maybe it was just the full onslaught of a 70 degree sunny day after two days of rain (Check out Seth Dillingham’s post. Or, maybe it’s just that I’m a runner…

In any case, I headed down towards Old Mystic, and, given the choice between River Road and a 5 miler, and Main Street on the Stonington side of the river and a longer-than-five-miler … well, Ladies and Gents, I took the long road.

No iPod. No Forerunner. No HRM. Just shoes, shorts, socks, shirt, and the music of Spring Peepers filling my ears.

Ran through Old Mystic. Ran past the hotels and resturants right off the interstate, hoping to snag folks tired of sitting in traffic on their way to Cape Cod.

Ran past the Cemetary, and wondered if it would be respectful or not to go wander about on a warm spring day, thinking about the people planted there and their roles in building my community.

Ran past the fried seafood shacks working the bugs out of the fryers for the summer.

Ran past the tumbledown wharves and piers where the people in the cemetary built the ships that carried American commerce around the world.

Ran past the Seaport where they’re trying to keep those skills alive. Saw the guy who runs the planetarium getting out of work for the evening. Wondered briefly if he marks the end of generations of navigating with the stars in an era of satellite navigation and GPS watches. I tried the celestial thing, and other than being able to find Polaris at night, and tell east from west during the day, I’m lost.

Looked across the river on a still night at slack tide and wondered if the people living in the town reflected on the water wondered about those of us living in the air.

Ran across the drawbridge and thought happy thoughts of hearing the whistle at 40 minutes past the hour from now until the end of October.

Passed the ice cream shop. Thought about stopping.

Passed the coffee shop. Thought about stopping.

Passed the pub. Was pleasantly surprised I didn’t think about stopping.

Ran up River Road. Had the debate with myself over how to go home. Passed another runner, and decided to take the long way home.

In Old Mystic, about mile 7.5, I broke down and walked a bit. Not due to being in pain, or really being out of breath. In hindsight, I don’t know quite why I walked. But I did.

Ran the last half mile, including the awful hill. Walked in with the smug sense of satisfaction that a good, long run brings.

Showered, shaved, sat on the couch with the wife.

All is well with the world.