Just Being

I studied abroad in Townsville, QLD, Australia from February to June 2014 (our spring, their fall). I ran a lot while I was there, mostly at night, and managed my highest-mileage week ever (somewhere above 45 miles, a massive amount for someone who still thinks of himself as middle-distance). There were a ton of trails down by the river that ran by the edge of campus and down to the sea, and I would run in the darkness in order to avoid the blistering heat and sun of the day. At the time I was also leaving myself a good three hours after eating before running--something I no longer do (last night I ate dinner and took off 20 minutes later).

The dorm I lived in at James Cook University (West Hall represent) wasn't air conditioned. I'm not sure if it was heated, but I survived into late fall. There was a screened-in porch, some venetian windows, and that was it--so if it was hot outside, you were pretty hot inside. I'd come back from running seven or eight miles, dripping sweat. I think I sweat more during that semester than any time I have before or since. What the dorm did have was a separate common building (meeting space, pool table, TV), and that did have AC. I'd go in there at 11 o'clock at night, crank the AC, and stretch (I used to stretch back then, too.) Once the heat faded and that sore muscle feeling crept in, I could relax and head back to shower.

The memory of running that semester came back to me last night as I ran along the banks of the Red River of the North in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Running at night has almost been a rule rather than an exception for me. Beyond that semester in Oz, winter practices in college were generally cold, dark, and windy. The darkness can eliminate distractions, and the effort can calm my mind.

I ran up to my back gate, looked at my watch, and realized progress had been made. I sat on the steps and took off my shoes. It's warm enough to do that now, and I think I'm okay with that.

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