I typically sit at the nature park during my lunch hour. I have pleasant memories at this park as I ran here often.
The park is owned by the university and was once a rock quarry. It’s very beautiful.
Inside the park is a small lake and surrounded by tall, rocky walls. Trails run throughout the park. Near the water the terrain is hot and barren like a desert. I remember I came down from the rim of the canyon and continued my run through the “desert”. It was stifling hot that day. Shortly after I got down there I noticed a buzzard flying overhead. Then another joined him. And yet another. I kept on running and they kept on gathering. Were they waiting for me to drop? Did I look wounded? Did I smell that bad? I certainly didn’t want to slow my pace to find out. By the time I got all the way around to the other side I counted about 17 buzzards above me. Yes, they circled above me the whole distance and kept adding in number.
When I got to the other side I remember saying out loud, “Not today! Not today!” (This wasn’t my first encounter with buzzards. But that’s another story for another time.)
I once ran a race here. It was to raise money for mental health awareness. A worthy cause. We ran around the rim of the quarry, and through the woods, along the creek, down through the desert, and through the parking area to a another trail that split. We ran to the right and up a hill, around and back down through the woods, then through the parking lot again, up and around another section of woods to the finish line at a building that resembles a castle. Waiting at the finish line were some of my kids and my grand-puppy, Sam.
It was a fun race. Well, except for the college girl who kept puking along the trail in woods. Early Saturday mornings are probably not ideal for race running when you are a party hearty college student. She’d pass me and then I’d pass her when she was puking. Then she’d pass me until she started puking again. I passed her two or three times. She didn’t pass me after that. I’m not sure she finished the race.
Trail running was my favorite type of running…and uphill was heaven to me. I absolutely loved running uphill. Once as I was running through the woods, my toe snagged a root that was in the dirt path. Down I went…and up I came just as quickly. I hurriedly looked around to see if anyone saw me. I’m in the middle of the woods. Duh…no one saw me. But that’s what you do when you fall, right? I did a quick check for injuries and saw a couple of bleeding wounds. I could have walked back to the car but I told myself I’m no sissy, and finished running the rest of the way.
Then one day I was running through the desert and headed up toward the top of the canyon when I slid on the gravel incline. My hands touched the ground to catch myself. I continued running pain-free but I suffered an injury that took me out of running. I tore my calf. And it was extensive enough to where I would need the muscle stripped to break up the scar tissue once it healed in order to prevent tearing again. But I couldn’t handle the pain of stripping. I was a sissy, I guess. That injury broke my heart. I think even my spirit. I never bounced back from that.
My years of running were the best. I could be having a horrible day, go for a run, and come back a new and better person. Running was like a drug to me. And I miss it a great deal. I need to find a new “drug”. I think I’d like to take up hiking. Uphill, preferably.
Nothing, I expect, will ever replace my running days though. Running was a high like no other. I still feel the excitement when I play my running playlist. Hopefully, one day I will find something to do that gives me at least a little pleasure.
Summer is quickly coming to a close, and as much as I love fall, I’m a wee bit sad to see summer leave. I so enjoy the sun. Oh, and driving with the windows down. I just can’t drive with the windows down and sunroof open. Otherwise my hair blows straight up and out of the sunroof. Not a good look for me.
Thanks for being here. I hope you have something in your life that gives enjoyment like my running days did for me. ♥️
Photos: the park in the winter, and Amber smiling beautifully in the lake; Sam congratulating me on finishing the race