Posts Tagged sunrise

The Art of Running in the Rain

I woke up today at the usual ungodly hour. After silencing one of my many alarms, I heard the hushed sound of falling rain outside. It was a scheduled day for a run. As I began going through the daily morning routine, I weighed my options. Yes, I have run in everything from blizzards to hurricanes, but with the current pandemic of flu circulating, I preferred to reduce my risk of lowering my immune system and tempting fate. After further consideration, I decided to go out for the run.

For the twenty plus years I have been actively running, some of my best runs have been in the rain. I really cannot point to one reason why, it is just the way it usually works out. People who are not avid (read fanatic) runners often ask why anyone would go for a run in the rain during near freezing temperatures, while the runners just smile and nod. Perhaps it is my knowing that during those days I will only see the most diehard runners out there and we will nod and wave in a mutual understanding; or maybe it is more that I know that I will rediscover the reason or reasons I run.

Over the past few years I have been dealing with a few nagging injuries, the latest one sidelined my running for several months. Recently, I have begun slowly working back up to the speed and mileage that I had prior to the injury. It has literally been a process of re-education on the basics of running; mentally and physically. Running in the rain presents additional challenges like avoiding puddles, potholes, and drive-by tsunamis. Throw in the fact that at this time of year I run before daylight and the logistics can be more than a little disconcerting while recovering from an injury.

Still, I embraced the challenge. As I set out on the run, the rain fell lightly, without any discernable breeze to complement it. The temperature was well above freezing, so ice was not an issue. Out on the road, I had to plan my steps well ahead of time, avoiding all that I could without the benefit of ambient light. Only two cars passed me around West Chop, normal for this season. I began to get a feel for where to step and where to avoid, even while correcting my stride and pace for my still recovering injury. While the run was challenging, I felt more confident with every passing mile.

I continued to run past my initial turn that would have ended my usual loop. With my confidence bolstered and my stride having become quite comfortable, I decided to extend the distance just a bit. When I did turn to begin the final leg of the run, I had the energy and rhythm to increase my pace ever so slightly; something that had not been the case for quite some time while recuperating. At the end, I felt tired, but not spent. The rain continued to fall as I went inside the house to stretch and cool down.

Once again, one of my best runs happened as rain fell consistently, challenging conventional thoughts otherwise. As I reflect on that run, I find the parallels to my life of the past several years, persevering through conditions that many others might falter or concede. The fact that I (or anyone) simply continues on and deals with whatever life doles out is a testament of the human spirit. Sometimes we can sidestep the puddles, other times we just need to splash right through them in order to reach the other side. Whatever it takes, just keep running.

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Once Upon An Island

It has been a short fourteen years of living on Martha’s Vineyard. What amounts to more than a third of my life has flown by at a speed that I can scarcely imagine that it actually happened. During my time living here I have been witness to so many changes; people, stores, laws, economies, fortunes. I have grown older, hopefully wiser, definitely maturing as a result. As I traverse the island on occasion, my memory recounts the changes, obvious and sublime.

I celebrated a rather subdued New Year’s Eve, swapping memories and anecdotes with a few friends. I recalled the “Get A Life Café”, Louis added that he owned what is now “Zephrus” on Main Street in Vineyard Haven before opening “Louis’”. We all commented on the bed & breakfast “Martha’s Place” just up the street, now a private residence. Yes, many of the businesses had changed hands or disappeared over the years; the Red Cat Café, The Feast of Chilmark, Bowl & Board, The Ice House, etc.

Most of the businesses changed hands, others just closed. Still others suffered from the financial downturn that currently afflicts the nation, even though we felt the pinch a bit sooner than the rest of the nation, as our economy is based on a resort economy, for better or worse. I noticed the difference back in the 2005 season. All of the numbers were down, not just with my business, but with the majority of shopkeepers I spoke with concurred. The previous five or six seasons had been so strong, there was really nowhere to go but down. The vibe of the island changed back after the 2001 season, after the September 11th attacks. The Clintons were not the summer regulars they had been, a new sobriety set a pall over extravagant vacationing, and once the financial collapse happened, the season shortened significantly.

My first season on Martha’s Vineyard, I paid $22 one way to get my car to the island. There was “guaranteed stand-by”, meaning if you were in line to get your car on the ferry, they would run ferries until the line was empty, weather permitting. Even though gasoline was not cheap on island, it was less than $3/gallon. I used less than a tank of fuel the entire season, riding my bike everywhere. I didn’t own anything on island other than my car, I was free of debt, and I was free to travel; a twenty-something with endless opportunities. The island was an idyllic paradise, an endless summer. Reality was a swift and cruel harbinger of the future; the end of summer.

They say that all good things must end. On Martha’s Vineyard many feel that happens at the end of every season. Others feel that the end of the season is just the beginning of another season. The only real constant, in my opinion, is change. Time waits for no one, but in our memories we cherish all that we hold dear. Living on this island I have gathered memories of people, places, and things that I will never forget, both happy and sad. To be a part of a place where so many others travel to just to be a part of for even a short period of time is very unique.

What are your memories? What was something that you remember so well that no longer exists? Whether it involves the original Humphrey’s location up island or a romantic weekend at an inn that is no more, the memories are yours to recall and share.

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On Island, On Hold

It is one week before November on Martha’s Vineyard and aside from Irene’s sea-sprayed induced damage; the leaves on the trees remain green. The temperatures remain warmer than average. The tourists still roam the streets (literally) in shorts and t-shirts munching ice cream. My morning run around East Chop can still be done in just running shorts. The entire island seems to be stuck in September mode, which is fine by me.

September on island is quite possibly the best time to experience all there is to offer. This “hold mode” might feel like September in many ways, but there are definite differences; many businesses have closed, for the season or for good. Then again, that might be apropos, as the businesses are frozen in time, for better or worse.

The sunshine is a cruel illusion for those headed to the beach; the sun’s angle is low in the sky, the ocean water has grown colder, and the wind cuts coldly. Still, the brilliance of the light on the water and in the sky has made for some fabulous views at sunrise and sunset, even outside of Menemsha. Increasing the value of such gorgeous days is the fact that they have become so much shorter in the past few weeks, and that will be the case with each passing day, no matter how much longer these gems last.

Personally, I have found that I have more things “on hold” than I would prefer; the business, my finances, career opportunities, and projects around the house. Most of those things will remain status quo for the time being, as my time is not yet my own; I have had only two days off since May at the writing of this blog. I just scheduled a few appointments for medical check-ups, which I have not had for several years. The appointments are for late December, ironically; the end of the year.

Still, I welcome the lingering late summer/ early fall that has captured the Vineyard for the past few weeks. The High School Cross Country Team that I help coach has had a better than expected season; the weather has helped them both mentally and physically. The attitudes of the people on island have seemed to be mellow, as well; more smiles, longer visits, fewer curmudgeons. A few extra days of better weather makes everyone more appreciative of the good fortune of being here.

However, there is that nagging feeling that we will have to pay for this time sooner or later. I’m not alone in feeling this way, I’m sure. Maybe it will mean a colder January or February, perhaps another frigid spring. Everything seems to go in cycles and this is just one of many; weather, economy, and health.

What I do know is that everyone I mention this to agrees that we will take whatever we can get, for as long as it lasts, knowing that it could end at any time, whether we are discussing the weather, our fortunes, or our health. We all should take stock in what we have, for as long as we have it.

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Rising Sun, Falling Snow

There are moments in life that you just never expect. The moments that hold you, embrace you and keep you still while they remind you that there are things beyond all that you take for granted. I find those moments more often when I need them most; times of stress, times of sorrow, times of need.

Some people would find religion in these moments, crediting whatever faith they follow with showing them the way and giving them guidance. Others would find these moments to be inspirational, using them as a catalyst for an idea of the academic or artistic persuasion. I tend to use these moments to find myself, taking note as to how far off from center I have strayed while living my life.

We all need a bit of “pause” to offset the kinetic, frenetic lives we tend to lead these days. So, while you continue checking off your “things to do” in your everyday, never fail to notice the things you seldom do. Stop. Breathe. Look. See.

I get into a seasonal groove that turns into a grind. I work, eat and sleep, barely doing much more than that. It is as if I can never truly get beyond those basic movements until the busy season ends. I get run down and exhausted, clinging to the knowledge that it will all be over in a few short weeks, only then I can breathe again. This past season had a few more challenges in store for me, what with the recession, mounting debt, and an uncertain future. I lost my center sooner, and drifted further from it, than I ever had.

It was only when I was able to resume the activities that I enjoy so much that I realized I had gone so far, so fast. The other morning I watched the sunrise over the harbor. I had timed it so I could be there at that moment to witness the birth of a new day. Two people I had not seen all summer were also there, on the side of the road, waiting for that that same moment.

None of us had planned to be there at that time together, but still, there we were. We were all there for that same reason, hoping to catch the first rays breaking the horizon of the water. Yet, while we knew the sun would most assuredly rise, it was only a hope that we could be there to witness it. So, at that moment, it was not the sunrise that was the moment for pause, but rather the meeting of three individuals, gathering to partake of one moment, only to find another… and we all knew it.

While there are other numerous times that people gather to celebrate a moment; a sunrise, the first snowfall of the season. Most of those moments are planned, with refreshments, music, and guests. There are other moments that just seem to happen, like when you bump into an old friend while shopping at the grocery store. The unexpected moments are the ones that tend to have more of an impact, usually because they happen without the burden of expectation or pretense. It is also in these moments that I understand this is how I should live my life, moment by moment, without the burden of expectation or pretense.

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