Look Homeward, Angel

by Lisa Rosen on June 21, 2010

We’re still in the mountains.  So far, I’m still running (and writing, so that’s the whole agenda, really).  The running has been . . . interesting.  At home, I have a system.  Every time I run, I have a plan–a goal pace, a route, a specific number of miles I want to cover.  I rarely deviate from the plan, and if I do (like when I sprained my ankle in October) I’m probably not happy about it.

On vacation, though, things are a bit less predictable.  I have less control.  I have to run when it’s convenient for everyone, not just me.  I have to run when there’s a car available to take me down off the mountain (because, you know, up here on the ridge, there are DOGS).  I have to work my runs in between meals and adventures and expeditions (I know–woe is me).

And I’m on unfamiliar roads and trails.  If I want to go run 8 miles, I have to plan out a route, write it down, figure out how to carry the piece of paper, and hope the road signs actually match up correctly with what the map said (and invariably it doesn’t).  One day last week I set out on what I thought would be a nice 8-mile tempo* run, through a quiet, shady residential area.

Let me describe that run for you:

HOT
Steep
Narrow roads with no shoulder and lots of blind curves
Elderly drivers in gigantic cars
Road construction
Still hot
Freshly poured cement
More steep
A dead end where I thought there should be a left turn
Barking (but mercifully not chasing) dogs
Lost, lost, and lost again

But the crowning glory of that run, the piece de resistance, if you will, was the moment when I realized I was lost in a cemetery.  Not just any cemetery, either.  The home of the angel of Thomas Wolfe’s 1929 masterpiece, Look Homeward, Angel.  One of my favorite novels.  The angel–a touchstone in Wolfe’s life–was carved by his father.  The heat, the traffic, the anxiety, even the wet cement on my brand-new running shoes–they all ceased to matter in that magical moment when I realized where I was.

Lessons in going with the flow:  you never know when you’re going to run (literally) across something that speaks to your soul.  Be sure to listen.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Toni June 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

It is interesting how when we do something that seems like it might have been a mistake, it turns out to be a special surprise.

Your post made me think about an app I have on my phone that you can use when you run, it shows the map and how far you’ve gone, even plays the music off my phone. You’re making me want to try that out. Although I may just take it for a cool early morning walk. 😉

Reply

Lisa Rosen June 23, 2010 at 9:05 am

Hi Toni–
You said it so perfectly: something that seems like a mistake turns out to be a special surprise. I LOVE when that happens, but it only works if I’m open to the surprise.
And there’s definitely something to be said for that cool early morning walk!
Thanks for commenting . . .
Lisa

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