Things in the Way

I did my long run this morning and 20 miles of thinking, pondering, and meditating ahead of me. As I ran, I found a bike path I hadn’t seen before and took it. I could tell it probably hadn’t been used since before the 2008 flood. The pavement was broken or buckled and weeds grew in the cracks. Still, it was beautiful. In the middle of town, I was surrounded by nature, hardly hearing the cars. I turned a corner and almost ran into a large tree, probably 3 feet across, which had fallen over the path. I climbed over it and, much to my dismay, there was not more trail. Only mud. I tried to find some dry ground, hoping I’d be able to pick up a trail further down, but it was clear after a few feet that wasn’t going to happen, so I had to turn tail and find my way back. I eventually saw this sight, which I would have missed probably if I’d have followed that trail, so I guess it was worth it.photo

Flashback to a summers between college classes. I was trying my hand as staying fit, but only really ran and then used it as an excuse to eat more, essentially cancelling out whatever I had burned off. One summer, I had a great 6 mile course I’d run occasionally. The next summer, the following event occurred on my first time through that course again. On about a mile straight stretch, I heard what I vividly recall as the sound of my own mortality. It sounded like a mix of police whistles, sirens, and fluttering wings and I was chased and dive bombed by a red-winged blackbird. Then two. Then three. For a full half mile. Let’s say I wasn’t in good enough shape to do mile repeats. I must have reached the edge of their turf and I could barely get the last part done. Then I realized…this was a lollipop course, where I ran to a trail head, did a loop, and ran back. And those three birds were waiting for me. Another mile of me in an ungraceful sprint, waving my hands in the air when the shadows on the road in front of me betrayed their descent, and being genuinely mad a nature in general. I would have laughed if I had seen it, but I didn’t see it. I was it. And I think I ran maybe 4 more times all summer.

What do these have in common? An obstacle, my reaction, and an outcome. Let 3 birds keep me from running all summer. I wouldn’t pick up the serious habit again for another 5 years or so. I saw that the path I wanted to follow didn’t exist anymore, so I decided to brush it off, and I ended up seeing some beautiful Iowa landscape and really enjoyed my run. Obstacles will always come. Regardless of how well we plan, we cannot plan for everything. We need to be present, in the moment, and trust that we can make decisions when the times comes to make them. I couldn’t have foreseen kamikaze birds. Nor could I have known of a fallen oak. When something gets in the way, it’s okay. It will happen again. And the only factor you can control is how you react to it. Because, you never know when you’ll be victims of those birds again, even in downtown Des Moines.

I’ve shared a few funny/odd stories in this post. Anybody else have a similar story? 

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