I just checked: My first run with Val and Rick was just about one year ago today. It was at a Cathance and Pancakes event. I was there with Navigator. Twelve miles was long back then, my longest. I didn't know anything about fueling or hydration and so was clinging to abstinence, more distracted by the sloshing of my first handheld h20 than I was hydrated by it.
Check this out:
"We arrived to a flock of Trail Monsters...looking very tough and athletic. I was immediately overwhelmed... I began plotting an escape. But immediately we began to run. I hung back as far as possible, not wishing to be remotely nearby to those I had just driven almost an hour to run with."
Why so much intimidation? How boring it now seems.
When, after 7 miles, we stumbled into Val and Rick, I prepared to not be able to keep up. But we all ran together for several more miles and all, much to my surprise, was well.
Will the present-day runnage seem as silly, as fraught with insecurity (or _____?) in another year? (Hypothesis: Yes.)
Yesterday's run was joyful. When I arrived at Brad, Scout, Rick, Squirrel, and Four were all there, already having done an hour. Wicked cool of them to come back and meet me at my musician-friendly hour. (I had a gig and a late drive that night - More on that in a bit!)
"You ready?" said Scout.
"Buckle up." she said, pointing to my Nathan pack.
I want there to be a Nathan pack commercial with Scout looking the camera in the eye and saying, "buckle up." Yes.
Our big group of five headed to the Connector via the Reverse Mindy and such. There was much good-natured talkage and amusement, even though there were tiny murmurs from many tired, high-mileage legs among us.
The power lines were beginning to get the wintry, Martian look already. We sought passages, bushwhacked a wee bit, explored, and wondered. We discussed who had a hot teacher in school, unicorns, hawks with pants, D.H.Lawrence, Quammen, and other critically important things. Also, certain people among us may or may not believe that centaurs are hot.
Four and then Rick eventually had to head back, but our trio continued on to The Bench (of pinwheel/Nathan/bad run/PFLAGTBQ thermometer fame). I'd only ever read folklore about said Bench. Would such a humble bench (or its associates) ever believe it could become so legendary?
We did a lot of pausing there and elsewhere. Many hills were walked. The mystery LRL (lower right leg) thing was 100% fine for about the first 5 miles. Thereafter, it was very encouraging to feel the discomfort of "mostly healed" instead of "still falling apart". Walking up some of the hills due to LRL preservation, rather than feeling unfit, was also encouraging. Rawr.
When an unforeseen time constraint was recognized, Scout had to book it back to the lot. I bade farewell to my plucky fellow Monsters. Surely I'd never keep up.
Notes: A headache was happening and it felt like electrolyte confusion. I'd been sipping water. I asked S & S. Yep, both were using Nuun. Note to self: Just use the damn Nuun.
More notes: Aside from these two small issues, the whole run felt great. Physical form steeped in joy. Mentality relaxed and softened at the edges. A-okay.
We arrived back at the lot all together, somehow, but I had 9.7 on the GPS. It doesn't matter, right right of course....but I still did some galloping about in the field to make it 10. I probably should have kept going since I felt so energetic. Or, maybe it was right to choose to end on a good note. Either way.
~Hilly. Brad and Connector. Mild, 50ish I think.
~Hoka, Smartwool, pants, grid fleece, Nathan pack.
In the evening was an extraordinary experience at Mayo Street Arts with some of the world's greatest traditional Bulgarian musicians, Kabile. Cinder Conk, trio with Sarah, opened. Matt set up the whole shebang, bless his badass accordionistic soul. It was just an amazing night with a full room and much love. And! Squirrel even came to the show.
And thus was born one of Portland's first (in recent history, that we know of) authentic Balkan dance parties. There was a lot dancing; though only a few folks were experienced enough to lead. Many inexperienced ones were clearly just jumping in and giving it a go. Dear Portland-area, Maine, I am truly proud of you.
A funny/memorable highlight for me was when many folks, including Cinder Conk, danced to Македонско девойче (Makedonsko Devoche), the lyrics to which are basically, "Macedonian girls are the hottest girls EVER." which is just so corny it's awesome. Very Balkan. And I say that with utmost respect and love.
The link above is a good version, but it was different and a million times wilder with Kabile. Kabile belted it out in the most asskicking four-way serious Bulgarian style that you can imagine, except, unless you've crashed a Balkan dance party, maybe you have no reference point with which to imagine it. I never could have. It was beyond. Matt sang along. We giggled as we horo-ed.
After the show, there was love in all directions. I don't speak Bulgarian, though, to my delight I could pick out a few words. Pesne. Dobro. Vino. We all smiled and nodded and hugged, and amazingly that summed up what we each needed to communicate. Two of Kabile spoke no English at all.
When we all went to Matt's house, I learned perhaps the most important bit of Bulgarian I'll ever need: Nazdrave. This was toasted over and over, especially when something good happened, accompanied by a smile.
After some noshes, they asked Kate to do a few tunes, and then asked Matt to play. Jutros Mia Rujos. They were very into it, excited that he knew the tune. Then he and I sang Ispod Palme Ne Obali Mora. Pretty awesome when you open your eyes between choruses and your heroes are smiling, listening, watching, and raising their glasses once again.