Light from the fading sun scatters through the trees, shimmering on the surface of the small lake near our parking lot. There is a certain glow, an added texture to all that the light bathes; the last rays stretch themselves thin as they try to prolong their time in the sky before they have to give up their place to the cool December night. Standing up from the curb, shoes tied, I look towards Max, and ask “The horse trails?”. A simple nod of his head sends us off, traveling quietly around the park lake, to the large dirt hill that awaits on the other side. It is a Sunday evening, and seeing that most weeks I take Sunday off to rest, it’s understood by both of us that today’s run was only a recovery run: 6 miles at an easy effort, no faster than 7 minute miles. And because we live in gorgeous Huntington Beach, California, we have the option of choosing a route from Central Park to the beach and back. It’s even three miles out and back: perfect. Cresting large hill, however, Max is breathing harder than he normally would for an easy run, and I am feeling the effects of a hard speed session the day prior. A realization, although we don’t say anything about it, crosses our minds: we feel like utter crap. This is going to be a long, slow run.
The first mile split comes up quick on us and I glance down at my watch to see how slowly we took it out. The screen reads: 6:46. What?! No! – This is a recovery run, and our first mile just had a large hill! Taking a look to my right, I see Max grin, and I return his smile; maybe we’re feeling better than we thought. Turning onto Seapoint Street, we get our first view of the ocean, beginning our first conversation of that run as well. And, almost magically, as we grow increasingly relaxed, our legs follow suit, whirling like the pistons of a well-oiled machine beneath us. We are flying now. Racing down the long street that stretches out before us, the ocean comes up to meet us quickly. We’ve reached halfway through our run. Stopping, I turn for a minute and look out towards the horizon, taking a last look at the explosion of color the sunset has created over the ocean. Then, as the sun disappears and the light fades away, we resume running, going back the way we came. Eventually we came back to that same dirt hill, the one that caused both Max and me to struggle a little bit earlier. Soaring down its face, the wind rushing by me, I can’t help but feel a sense of liberation and pure enjoyment. Is there a morale to this little experience of mine? Well, to quote one of my favorite books, “The world’s a puzzle; no need to make sense out of it”… I think I’ll leave it at that.