Running in short sleeves and shorts in mid-February has a slightly bizarre, dream-like quality to it.
Apologies to everyone living in a colder place, but Albuquerque has been idling in a warm spell, with afternoon temperatures reaching the upper 60s. And the wind has been downright subdued. [Now I have to apologize to everyone in Albuquerque in case I just jinxed us.] This weather is unnatural, doesn’t help the drought, and probably means something ominous in terms of global warming.
Probably. But I like it.
Almost as foreign to me as the weather is my recent return to the Bosque. I know the word “bosque” isn’t Albuquerque-centric, but here in the Duke City it refers to the land/trees alongside the Rio Grande. It boasts woodland trails and some neat scenery, but one of its most prominent features is a paved path that extends for miles. The path is used by cyclists, runners, walkers, roller bladers, and the occasional coyote. It’s long, straight, and flat, with equal power to soothe a runner and make her question her sanity.
Between the risk of the latter and the fact that running on that path requires me to drive to it (I admit I’m spoiled by where I live), I’ve avoided it for the last couple of years. But my legs have been asking, politely and not-so-politely, for a break from the rolling hills of my neighborhood, so I’m giving them one.
I’ve done two long runs on the Bosque path now. It’s a change from my usual route, no doubt about that — not just the terrain, but the people. The Bosque’s central location attracts more of a mix. There are Official Training Groups. There are shiny new runners, some who brave it solo and some with friends encouraging them. There are Ethiopians and Kenyans. There are folks on long runs, and folks taking advantage of the path’s quarter-mile markers to do some quality speed training. There are professional race-walkers. There are gobs of cyclists.
That’s just the people. There’s also a field where two alpacas live. And last week, towards the end of my run, I passed a field full of resting Sandhill cranes. Shortly after finishing the run, I saw another flock of cranes (maybe the same ones?) gracefully descend onto a pond while others wheeled above, eventually flying off to who knows where.
Why do some of our most poetic experiences happen when we’re at our most tired and sweaty?
Somewhere on that run, between seeing a runner-mom stop to point out ducks to her child and seeing those cranes flying above me, I let go. I let go of my prejudice against the Bosque path; I let go of my stubborn loyalty to my usual routes. I realized, Hey, if the cranes are comfortable here, why shouldn’t I be? I began to entertain a new attitude:
The Bosque state of mind.
It goes like this: Flat and straight is okay. A change of scenery is okay, especially when it means dealing with much fewer intersections and stoplights than I normally have to. A busy path dotted by people of all athletic abilities is better than okay — it’s something to marvel at, and savor.
Kind of like wearing shorts in the middle of February.