Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Entertaining Myself While I Run

My Ipod is out of battery, which bodes poorly for me to keep my motivation going during the long run I have planned. That music really helps me to keep my knees pumping, my breathing steady, and my mind off the fact that running is UNCOMFORTABLE in 102 degree heat.

I decide to entertain myself the old fashioned way- with my mind and imagination. I enjoy running through our back pastures (I May Not Dance With Wolves, But I Run With Cows) where there is plenty of room and exquisite peace and quiet.

I love to imagine what things were like in the past, so I start with the very land I am running on. If I move back more than 15,000 years, I am in the ancient sea that was here then. I am running underwater where giant, toothy sea creatures abound. They are too toothy for me, so I quickly jump forward to the next epoch.

Now, there are woolly mammoths, mastodons, and saber- toothed tigers roaming this land. Some of them have even chosen convenient places to die, ensuring their bones are captured and turned into fossils for us to find. I imagine the cows that chase me as I run are actually these behemoths. If I squint just right, they turn into a herd of those hairy creatures pursuing me instead of just confused cows.

Nearing the fourth mile, I am lonely for people. I think of the first humans to occupy this space, a fierce band of indigenous people called the Karankawa. At a time when most Native Americans in this area were under 5 1/2 feet tall, the Karankawa towered over others at an average height of 6 feet. They also coated their bodies from head to toe with mud, so the whites of their eyes were often the only things visible. If this isn't enough to strike a note of fear, the early Spanish explorers soon found out the Karankawa were not just passionate fighters, they were also....CANNIBALS. They've left a few of their arrowheads for me to find.

The whites of their eyes are getting too close, so I move ahead to the white man settling this land. I see the wagons getting stuck in quicksand like mud when they move through after a rain. I see cowboys rounding up vast herds of longhorn cattle for the journey to river boats on the Rio Grande.

I move ahead some more in time and see a young man doing the backbreaking labor of clearing this very brushland to be a farm. I see him, often working with his schoolteacher wife, milking cows, hunting down predatory animals, and building their very own house. They are my grandparents. I pass by that house they built as I as run and smile, as it is now the house I live in with my family.

I near a creek and see three little boys with fishing poles, each trying to be the first with his line in the water. It is my dad and his brothers, enjoying their time together after the chores are done.

Moving on, I can almost feel the rumble in the ground as tractors plow the earth to plant hundreds of acres of cotton and grain. I see a little nine year old girl driving one of those tractors. It's me, proud that I can now plow a furrow as straight as anyone (almost).

I see by my watch my run is almost over. I haven't missed my Ipod at all; not one bit.


  1. This is a fantastic journey through time, Shelly! I hadn't heard of the Karankawa tribe, but I have read some tribes in the past were cannibals. Whoa. You wouldn't want to meet up with them. I like the history of your family too. Wonderful.

  2. Belle: Thank you! I think it is so neat to imagine the spot you are on right now as it was at different times in the past. Kind of weird, but that's how my mind rolls-

  3. I love your mind meander! As a writer, I've found busy body, relaxed mind to be absolutely the most fertile idea ground. (without music... which I don't do often) But it is my way I problem solve.

    I am terribly impressed, both with how much weight you've lost, and with running when it is 102. I only power walk at this point, but anything over 90 drives me inside to my eliptical. (as does under 20) very well done!

  4. Hart: Thanks for stopping by! I feel better all over when my mind is free. It makes even running palatable. I couldn't exercise at all under 20 degrees- in fact, I don't think I could even get out of bed!

    BTW- your pup is absolutely charming. He even has a hint of accomplishment in his expression in the after picture-

  5. I often think about how our land has changed. There is a fertilizer plant near the coast of NC that has piles of rejects that you can pick through and find shark teeth telling me that the ocean was there at a time in the past. Our area has really changed.

  6. Shelly, I love your wild imagination. I often operate in similar fashion. Keeps life interesting! i'm glad you had a good run! Feels like a million bucks, don't it? :)

  7. Odie: It does make me really sad that we haven't been good caretakers of the land. Shark teeth- wow- haven't found any of those here, but that would be neat!

    Crystal: There's nothing, NOTHING that replicates what it feels like after a good run. Love those endorphins!

  8. Ohh i love your writing!!! I love history, and live in a fairly historic town.I'm always imagining the bushrangers and the horse and drays etc Not a fan of running though....

  9. IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY: Thank you so much! I, too, love history, and am insatiably curious (or nosy) to find out as many facts as I can about where I am. The running was an acquired taste, but now I'm pretty well hooked on it.


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