Oh Canada!April 9, 2016
Magrath Alberta Canada – April 9th
This morning I am in the northern country – Magrath, Alberta Canada. It is colder than Utah but beautiful. We are staying at a ranch in preparation for my father-in-law, Rick’s burial. The owners of this ranch are friends of the family and are truly wonderful people. They are hosting two full families in their home out of the goodness of their hearts.
This part of the world is slower and more peaceful. A car may drive by every couple of hours… or maybe not. There is no hustle and bustle of deadlines and frenetic beeping of alerts and notifications from social media and electronics. The beeps and dings are replaced by birds singing and horses neighing. I wake before everyone. My brother and sister in-law said they might come with me so I wait for them. They sleep in but, the little kids start to rise.
Instead of heading up the gravel road for another run I follow the boys and my little baby bear out through the horse pastures to the hay bales. Under a barbed wire fence a playground of rolled hay bales open up to us. The kids scamper on top and run along the rows of hay and quickly start jumping from one row to the next. Even the littlest ones are jumping the gaps between the rows and having the time of their life. They find a way onto the roof of the small barn next to the hay bales. A short speedy run and they launch themselves from the roof onto the closest rolls. More fun and frolicking and I realize that 7:30 has now turned into 9:30. I’ve taken so many pictures and video that my phone is dead.
I run back to the house and plug my phone. I start down the road with only my Samsung Gear S2 and no phone. I don’t really mind not starting all the apps, music, and not carrying my phone. Because of thay I won’t be posting any images in this post. I guess I will just have to paint pictures in your mind with my words.
My legs are still crazy tight and sore. The first mile is like trying to warmup an old Ford truck. My legs just hurt and are so stiff I have to concentrate on actually stretching my legs as I run. I feel like I am turning the key in the ignition and the engine turns over and over but won’t start. The warmup mile passes and I see no other humans just cattle, horses and fields.
We are staying near Old Chief Mountain which has a famous Indian legend that the great white God will come and stand on top of it when He comes again and when he leaves, the mountain will be split in two. I see this mountain in the distance as my feet push me toward it. My legs get a little looser as I progress past fields and farms. A car comes blazing down the dirt and gravel road toward me as I approach my second mile. The teenage driver is surprised to see another person on this road. I’m sure she wasn’t expecting to see a guy out in the middle of nowhere dressed in running clothes with running gloves on. I wonder if she has ever seen a guy decked out in Nike on this road before. She drags a rising plume of dust behind her as she passes. I hold my breathe as I strategically try to cross the road at just the right place to get the least amount of dust in my face. A little farther and I hit the two mile mark. I have been in two countries, three different states, and four cities in my Altra’s this week and my soleus’ are feeling it. Once I hit the two mile mark I decide to stretch my lower legs. I start stretching and then quickly stop. I get caught up in my surroundings. Twelve white cottony puffs of clouds form a perfect upside down pyramid that gently float above a red barn set on a hill full of rich green grass. This is perfect. It is truly one of the most perfectly peaceful scenes I can remember. A bird with a huge wingspan flies hundreds of feet above me. It is only because I stopped for a stretch-break that I hear the unique call of this large bird of prey and look up. With wings outstretched the bird floats on the wind without effort as if a boat on the ocean with a large open sail. Such grace and peace. I watch it shrink the farther away it gets until it disappears into the sky. The moment is interrupted by another sound. It takes me a minute to recognize that the sound I’m hearing is the flapping of wings. I look behind me and see a crow circling above my head. It see me too and gives a “Caw, caw”. My surrounding is so quiet and peaceful I can actually hear the fluttering of the feathers of the crows wings as it flaps them up and down. It continues to circle and flap as it rises on the wind. I wish I could bottle this moment and carry it with me. Running truly is the best therapy.
I finally wake from this moment of introspection and look at my watch. I’ve been running for about the 19 minutes and absorbing my surroundings for another 20. In order to make it to the burial on time I need to get moving. I really wish I could bottle the peacefulness I feel right now so I can share it with everyone.
Most of the run has been rolling hills with a continual uphill grade. Another half mile out and then I will head back. I’m in the tree line now of Old Chief and the songs of the birds are becoming more prominent. I hit 2.5 miles but haven’t made it to the top of this hill yet so I keep going. I remember to stand up straighter as I run uphill and keep my cadence up. I crest over the hill and am so glad I decided to keep running up this final hill. The road terminates into a blue crystalline lake. Two serene canadian geese are the only residents of this glassy blue lake. They glide slowly across the water. I walk to the water’s edge. Peacefulness washes down my body again like a warm sunrise. I spot a flat rock and can’t resist the urge to skip it across the surface of the water. My first attempt only results in three skips. I grab another rock in the shape of a small pancake and with a mighty hurl and a flip of the wrist I’m able to produce nine ripples across the smooth surface. I stand at the water’s edge and just watch and listen. Again, I have to pull myself away from this little glimpse of a much simpler life.
2.66 miles from the ranch house and now it is time to head back. I get back into the run and realize that the run has been more uphill than I realized. Going back down from the foothills of this gorgeous mountain is much easier than the way up. I pick up the pace and race back home.
Oh Canada I’ll miss you.
Pace was 9:45 up and 7:30 back down.