Saying thank you for dawn shared with strangers

My nephew Ben in a bike race that, like the one I saw today, inspired those who slowed their run to take it all in.

My nephew Ben in a bike race that, like the one I saw today, no doubt inspired those who slowed their run to take it all in.

I knew the Corporate Challenge in Richardson had started. How could I not? The signs for various events hang from light posts all over my neighborhood. Apparently though, I’d subliminally skipped those announcing the Sunday morning bike race.

So when I left my house this early this morning, turning west on Campbell Road (which tends to be eerily quiet at that hour), I was jolted out of my running zone by a parked police car in the middle of the street. Then I noticed dozens (hundreds?) of orange cones. Then headlights after headlights of cars.

And finally, ah, yes, the cyclists. Initially, there were one or two lone riders, their upper bodies bent parallel to the ground, their numbers attached to their handlebars. Then I saw more of them, some still alone or with a partner; others in groups of three, still others in a pack.

I turned north and began a kind of zigzag; Sundays are my days to run long, and every extra step, every changed direction, get me closer to my goal. By the time I reached Renner Road — the opposite side of the bike-route rectangle — there was an all but solid stream of cyclists. Some were riding professional looking road bikes; others, mountain bikes. I saw one woman on what looked like a Schwinn from my childhood.

In the last year, I’ve run all but maybe five miles by myself. That’s AOK, most truly. Still, seeing the cyclists and hearing bits of their conversations made me feel just the teeniest bit of wistful. Mostly though, I couldn’t help but smile at them, waving and periodically shouting good-luck encouragement.

When I reached my house, I realized my run today had been longer and slower than I’d planned, which caught me a bit by surprise. Now, as I look back almost a half-day later, I think there was quite possibly a reason for that.

So for the whooshing of bike tires…for silence-breaking sentence snippets…for dawn shared with strangers…The Grateful Runner says thank you.


Saying thank you for starry September mornings

As I gazed at the Colorado sky, the morning stars were staying put in my Texas one.

As I gazed at the Colorado sky, the morning stars were staying put in my Texas one.

While I was in Colorado for my niece Julie’s wedding, the sky at home seems to have shifted. Not in the planet realigning sort of way that’s inherent with life-changing events, but more in an axle-spinning reminder of the earth’s rotation and the changing of the seasons.

Up until the week I left, I could see the first indications, however vague, of a sun preparing to rise when I’d start my morning runs. I propped sunglasses on my head; by the time I reached the front porch, I was as likely as not to need them to block those first sleepy rays.

But when I set out September 2, the morning after returning home, the sky was still starry. I saw no pink swaths, no semblance of shadows — only a ceiling of white pinpricks. When I finished running, the sun still wasn’t visible. I’d been in the house for 10 minutes before I remembered to take the sunglasses on my head.

Autumn isn’t here, not by a long shot. Temperatures are in the 80s when I wake up; the heat index surpasses100 during the day. The State Fair of Texas hasn’t even started, and I’ve long held that fall won’t arrive till after the last teddy bear has been won and the midway closes.

Yet yet yet…there is something in the air that reminds us, however subtly, of the inevitable passage of time.

So for starry mornings that seem somehow to hold the heat at bay, all the while still making me sweat…as well as for life’s sky-shifting, planet-realigning milestones…The Grateful Runner says thank you.