I had every intention of doing the Tri Club (http://www.triclubsandiego.org/) track workout. But I've been feeling stressed out and worn-down. Don't know why. Guess work, an Ironman, divorce, and robbery can do that to you. By 5 pm, I had absolutely no desire to run circles until I puked. Even more, I had no desire to be around other people. I don't really like people, in general. People say mean things. People do mean things. People exhaust me. I just wanted to be alone.
However, I still wanted to run. Torrey Pines State Park is about a mile north of where I work. Rated as a "Rave Run" in Runner's World, I feel quite spoiled. Any time I want, I can run out the door and experience spectacular views of the ocean. It seemed stupid not to. Addicted to music, I was a bit hesitant since the robbers stole my iShuffle. But the Torrey Pines trails called me.
I pulled on my running shoes and headed down the street at an easy pace. It was such a relief to slowly warm up and not worry about my speed, not feel ashamed at how slow I am, not worry about how I measure up to everyone else. No competition. To just be. I was in total control. If I wanted to run slowly, I could. If I wanted to run fast, that was okay too.
About a mile down the road, I headed down the South Broken Hill Trail. It wound around and around and down and down towards the beach below. The path was narrow and thickly lined with shrubs and bushes. Yellow and purple wispy flowers lined the path. Cottontail rabbits darted out of my way. Little birds zipped through the air in front of me from bush to bush. The trail turned so sharply this way and that, I couldn't see where it was going to take me next. Tree roots and rocks perilously jutted out of the ground. The trail descended steeply and was periodically lined with series of stairs that had to be bounded down.
I probably should have slowed down. Afterall, I could barely see where the path was leading to next, much less what was threatening to reach up out of the dirt and trip me. But I was running downhill. Steeply. And I love downhill. I decided to run faster. My feet floated, barely touching the ground. My brain was firing rapidly as I concentrated on my footwork, dancing in zig zags to find the best spot for each footstep to land. Certain portions of the trail were thick with deep sand. I bounded onto the banks of the trail, searching for the hard-packed terrain.
I reached the bottom of the trail and slowed to a walk, captivated by the spectacular view of the brilliant turquoise surf, breaking in a gentle frothy foam over hidden rocks. I breathed deeply, inhaling the thick, wet salty air. Feeling my heart rate plummet, I began jogging again.
The trail wound up steeply, snaking towards the top of the cliffs. I bounded up stairs, urging each foot higher to ensure that it would clear the step. My face was red and hot, and I gasped for breath sharply. I was redlining. All I could think about was running. Just keep running. No matter how steep. And air. I wanted air. More oxygen please. My thoughts were so totally consumed by the physical exertion of climbing the cliffs...nothing else mattered. Such total blissful suffering.
When I reached the car, I felt completely purged. At ease and at peace. I slept well last night. Until my alarm went off. Time to get up for masters swimming. Bring on the suffering.