Friday, October 21, 2005

Tastes Like Burning

Sulophur Springs of Darkness 8mi
This week’s long run came a little late because of last Saturday’s race. The distance for the week is eight miles, and I’ve decided to repeat the Sulphur Springs of Darkness route because it is one of my favorites, and I am too lazy to map out a new run for this distance. I still haven’t been able to shake the soreness out of my legs from the trail run though, and I’m not sure how I’m going to feel after eight miles of mostly pavement.
I start out following the river to the north along its eastern bank, and the tightness in my calves begins to ease a little more with each mile.
On the path down to the troll bridge I catch a brief flash of color in my peripheral vision, and I look to see a familiar red-blossomed vine entwined in the chain-link fence to my left. I know next to nothing about Florida’s wildflowers, but I have a distinct memory of these particular flowers being introduced to me as a child. On what must have been a school field trip, someone pointed out the vine growing along a similar stretch of fence. The bud-like blossoms pulled easily away from their sepals, and they were full of a sweet nectar that attracted both children and ants. I remember standing there sucking on flowers, amazed that something so beautiful and sweet could be found growing along a stretch of rusty old fence.
About forty-five minutes in, I start to get my legs under me. This seems to be my standard pattern. Whatever the length of the day’s run, I start to feel good about halfway through. I’ve heard over and over about how much of running is a mental exercise, but I’m just starting to realize this for myself. My perception of each run is shaped largely by the approach that I’ve taken before I’ve even laced up my shoes.
As I turn back to the south, my stride has become more compact, efficient. I’m several minutes ahead of my pace from previous runs on this route. I round the corner from Mulberry onto River Cove, keeping pace with a Rasta on a bicycle pedaling along lazily and talking on a cell phone. Ahead I can see the flowering vine again, and I remember now where I was on that field trip twenty-five years ago. It was right here at what is now a small park along the river. My memory is partially obscured by the vines, but I can see a zoo with a bear in a cage and river otters playing in a concrete pond. I pull a blossom off of the vine, suck out the nectar, and run off towards home.


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