Family · New Mexico · Running · Travel

Dog Days

I got back from Jacksonville late Sunday afternoon. That morning was a blur of alarm clocks and the quiet packing of last-minute toiletries. I ate one last breakfast beside my nephew in his high chair and watched one last episode of “My Little Pony” with my niece, and left quickly after all the hugs to avoid getting too teary-eyed.


Flying into Albuquerque, I reminded myself of its positive points, like my friends here, the phenomenal running, endless skies, and unbeatable margaritas. It helped…a little. I don’t know if it was a re-manifestation of the earlier departure-from-family sadness, or exhaustion from a day of travel, or both, but by the time the satellite parking shuttle at the airport delivered me to my car, I was in a full-fledged cranky snit.


I knew what I needed: a reset run. Brushing aside travel fatigue, when I got home I dropped my bags, threw on running clothes, and headed out. The run didn’t perform any miracles – it was actually quite unremarkable, although I did sweat considerably less than during my Florida runs – but it helped my mindset start moving towards the right track. Okay, I’m back in Albuquerque now, running one of my usual routes with the usual cars passing by. The usual breeze puffs along. The ever-reliable prairie dogs and cotton-tail bunnies sprint around doing their afternoon workouts. Looks like it might rain later. We need it. Slowly but surely re-establishing my New Mexico stride.


I’m still working on it (I’m writing this with a not-fully-unpacked bag in the living room and a pile of dishes in the sink) but that seems to be going around, the re-establishment of stride. Here in Albuquerque, schools started up this week. Kids and parents are gradually settling back into academic routines, and commuters are settling back into dealing with more traffic. I live right next to a high school whose marching band starts practice right as I’m leaving for work. I don’t envy my neighbors trying to sleep at 6:40 a.m., but I kind of love hearing the rousing tunes as I walk out to my car.


Between vacations and transitions and re-adjustments, all this…activity makes me wonder about the expression “the dog days of August.” Do they exist anymore? Those days that render you a hot, tired, unmotivated lump for days on end?


My body is chirping “Yes!” to that right now, because I just finished an interval workout during which my legs felt like absolute lead. Yuck. My mind, resentful that it has to be productive at work again, frankly doesn’t feel too differently.


I want to jump back into things. Really, I do. I want to finish unpacking, wash dishes, do laundry, and plan my next hot yoga visit. I’m just not in any hurry. After all, that stuff isn’t going anywhere…and when I’m not at work or running, none of that holds the appeal of watching a Netflix movie or reading the Michener novel I just started. Not even close.


So maybe the dog days of August do still exist. Maybe it’s just a matter of moderation. Like any dog, they can get out of control if we let them. But sometimes, pausing to just pet them for a little while is exactly what we need.


3 thoughts on “Dog Days

  1. Running in Jacksonville in August had to be tough. It must be good to be back in that dry New Mexico air. I remember when I was training in the summer at Bruce Denton’s cabin in the wilderness outside of Kernsville, Florida for the big mile race against Walton. The heat and humidity were brutal. But it makes you tough.

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