Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wye Island; Forget It All

Looking toward Wye Island across the cows.

It was one of those days where the weather just fed me energy.  I had an hour to spend at Wye Island before heading over to Centerville for my daughters' basketball game.  Being a little rushed I did not have a good game plan for what or where on the island I was going to venture.  I drove past the usual places we start off from and settled on School House Woods.  After futzing for a couple of minutes, I said, "fz#ck it all" and started running down the trail into the historic woods.  I don't know if historic is the right name, but I do know some of the trees in that small section of woods are some of the oldest largest trees on the Eastern Shore; somebody had a hand at preserving that piece of nature.

So, why the big deal to take off running?  I have run a few times for short distances since my latest ailment with my right shoulder.  But, this time I didn't stop.  I ran and ran.  The more I ran the better I felt.  Though I ran only 4ish miles, it was a big step; that being my longest run since April.  What's better is that I took my shirt off and ran through the fields like a deer.  The only other time I ran on those fields was with Michael Valliant when we first started running together.  At that time I was very new to trail running (in fact that was my very first off road run) and my ankles would twist very easily (twice on that first run with MV).  So, I was not keen on running off road on that first trail run.  This time, however, I relished every moment.

I spent a couple of moments with the 275 year old holly that stands proudly in a field next to the river.  My time with the tree was spent in deep thought and contemplation; absorbing the energy,  realizing the age, honoring the caregivers of the tree, and coming to grips with my own and the tree's mortality.  Hmm.
The bridge to Wye Island

For what ever reason that this island is preserved is a true blessing.  It is a beautiful place to be oneself and to re-energize.  I did not have chance to barefoot any of the island this trip, though I do plan to do so in the future, or at least with my fivefingers.  Our homeopath has recommended for me to go barefoot.  It may seem basic or too simplistic, but going barefoot on the ground and on wood and tile floors can actually help "ground" you in the truest sense of the word.  It really works.  Feelings of being present or in the moment are present when I go barefoot.

Me running along the Wye Island trail road soaking up the sun on a warm November afternoon.

I absorb things around me.  I also look for escapes.  Running is the freest form of escape for me, yet it allows me to absorb good energy around me.  I come from a run refreshed and able to live life more full.  Running on Wye Island this week reminded me of why running is still my favorite discipline.  Live, love, and serve...
“Our love is all of God’s money” Jeff Tweedy, Wilco

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Washing Machine

Tuckahoe Creek in the fading sunlight.

How many times have we sprinted up the hill on Tuckahoe Valley Trail where the bricks are loose? It is the only hill with bricks. Valliant and I used to simultaneously break into a sprint as we’d race each other up that hill. Then, along the next ridge we pass an old red combine in the trees on the left and various abandoned appliances on the right; one of which is a white washing machine with bullet holes in it.

I took sharp notice of this appliance today, as I did many things during a second expedition to the trails in as many days. Oddly, I was inspired to park at Adkins Arboretum and pay $3 just to start my hike/run there. It was nice to use the restroom and to talk to the nice ladies there. It really is a wonderful place. As I wove through the Arboretum’s trails I connected to the regular trail route and soon found myself at the big bridge crossing the Tuckahoe. Continuing on the regular route, and after sprinting up the “brick hill” laughing at past times with Valliant there, I began walking the ridge and came upon the washing machine. That thing hasn’t moved in all the time I’ve been there. I saw so many things along the trail today that I never noticed while running: a monument, fairy houses, and signage.

I continued on, down and up the ravines, and a sharp right at the junction of Turkey Hill and Creekside Cliff Trails. It took me 40 minutes of walking and running to reach the same intersection after completing Creekside. Trail conditions have never been more perfect: dry, soft dirt and sand, colors galore, perfect temperature, and zero bugs. It was 4pm and I was due at home soon. I started down Turkey Hill toward the creek crossing, but decided better, knowing how much time I could waste with a river crossing and the following trail. As I turned around to head back to Tuckahoe Valley Trail a biker whirled by my sights.

Seth, the Tuckahoe Ninja Roller, creating a new jump from the Tuckahoe Valley washing machine.

I backtracked along the trail and I, eventually, came upon Seth who had gotten off his bike to create a deathtrap-stunt sculpture with none other than our bullet-hole-ridden, white washing machine. He said Thursday he would complete the project and risk life and limb on the washing machine and wooden branch jump. If you look at Tuckahoe Ninja Roll, you’ll see another sculpture jump he created in the gulley preceding the Turkey Hill junction. Seth seemed determined and focused, though personable. After looking at his video, however, I question his engineering techniques.

My Fivefingers and Rocky Racoon's five fingers in the sand on the banks of Tuckahoe Creek.

So, what are the chances that I was on the trail, passing by the washing machine twice in one day, on the day that it is morphed into a new life? Go figure. Not much has made sense to me lately, including my shoulder. Dr. Murthi thinks I have multiple nerves disturbed in my shoulder with multiple muscles compromised. He wants me to immediately start Physical Therapy, get more tests, taper off the medications, get the inflammation down, and see him in 4 weeks. He said I was an “odd bird” but assured me he would not let this get out of hand. Luckily, from the time I left Tuckahoe last night through now, I have felt the first minute increment of improvement. Let’s hope it keeps going in that direction. I plan on hitting more trails in the near future. Work for me is limited to when I have help at this point. It is amazing how much we rely on our dominant hand. I missed all my buddies today on the trail and hope I can swindle some of you to join me in the near future for a walk/run. live, love, and serve ~ Michael

Phin at Tuckahoe

Tuckahoe refreshed our legs as Phin and I had a go of it for an hour this afternoon. We clamored out of Julius and set off down Tuckahoe Valley Trail at a brisk walk. The colors are fabulous with lots of green left, meaning there are more colors to come. The surface was crunchy which made every sound in the forest amplified. This drove Phin crazy; not a squirrel in the forest could move without Phin noticing. It was beautiful. Walking, rather than running, the trail is a whole different experience. I look forward to walking (and running) more of it in the future.

We made it almost to the bridge when I realized that we did not have time to make the full loop of Pee Wee’s trail and make it to Oaklands for dinner with my sister, mother, and daughters. So, we did a 180 and ran most of the way back to the car. Those who know me know we are a drug/medication free family at least that is what we strive for. However, with this latest injury I have been on Prednisone for 2 weeks plus a few pain killers, mostly Aleve and Ibuprofen. As I was running up the trail the drugs in my body came to mind and I backed off the intensity. Complicating things with a heart attack would not be cool.

Tomorrow I see a surgeon concerning my latest ailment which is the pain and major weakness in my right shoulder. The latest diagnosis is that the suprascapular nerve is entrapped in the suprascapular notch by a ligament(s). Tomorrow will mark three weeks that I have been in pain and not able to use my arm fully. We are hoping for the best news we can from Dr. Anand Murthi, chief of Sports Medicine at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Dr. Murthi is the surgeon who performed the successful surgery on my left shoulder 14 months ago.

It seems I am a rare bird for having this type of problem in the first place. I am exceptionally rare to have this occur in both shoulders. Not sure I’m excited about that claim to fame. I hope to have a good report for you soon. Remember to live, love, and serve ~ Michael