Running, Clear Night Skies, and Good Teachers

“Are you a runner? Because you look like a runner.”

I’ve had strange comments from patients at work before… The last time I had one about athletics was a few years ago when Silken Laumann asked me if I was a national rower.

For some reason, I answered the running query with “Yes, but not lately.”  The last race I ran was in 2002. The last time I did any serious running training was probably closer to 1999.

But it got me thinking, why not run again? I’ve been sitting on that thought (quite literally, actually. My rear has now melded to the couch) for the last couple of weeks. Every day, I have had a great excuse for not running until today when I finally told myself to stop being stupid and get out there. Did I mention that I pulled some muscles in my back yesterday and it has been sore all day?

I’m glad I went. The overcast sky of today has cleared up and the clear night sky is beautiful. The moon is nearly full and it casts a glow over everything. I head down the street and through the park before turning up the hill towards the university. The park is in a little dip and it always seems cooler in there than at our house half a block away. As a result, there is slippery frost on the path. As I run through the dark park and up the hill, I look up and see that the sky was clear and all the constellations can be seen. There is majestic Orion standing straight up below the moon. Beside him, Taurus, the zodiac sign I was for one day. Then the Pleiades, Casseopia, the Dippers, Gemini…

I began to think back to my love of staring at the night sky. Where did it come from? I remember being drawn into stargazing on Offshore when we could sit for hours at a time under a huge black umbrella of the sky – an umbrella with millions of pinpricks of light all over it. It got to the point where I could tell if the helmsman was off course just by looking at the sky.

I loved the sky before that. I may have not known and been able to identify all of the constellations, but the interest was there.

Keep running… cross Gordon Head Road, good thing I have a light because there are actually cars on this road… Through the university. I love the pathways with arches of trees overhanging. I’m surprised I haven’t run into any deer yet. Through residences… I’m surprised how few people there are out tonight, though it is 10:30pm and a little chilly. I’ve got two thermal running shirts on, plus an old soccer jersey. I’m through the university now, to Sinclair Road. I came the better way: this hill is much nicer to go down than up.

I had the same teacher for both grade 5 and grade 6. Mr Shurrock was one of the best teachers I ever had. After a fairly disastrous Math experience in grade 1, he was the first teacher that actually believed I could do Math and, unsurprisingly, I excelled in his class. I may not have ever become a Math-wiz (as my college transcript can attest to), I did well at Math for the rest of my elementary and high school career. With Mr Shurrock, we studied all sorts of interesting things, including astronomy. I remember researching constellations and drawing them out in our notebooks. I think this was one of the first places where I encountered these stories in the night sky.

Down the hill, loop south along Cadboro Bay Road. Still running. The initial cramp has long-gone and I’m actually enjoying this. Who knew? It is colder beside the ocean, but the air is lovely and fresh. Annie Lennox, Ella Fitzgerald, and Moxy Fruvous are shuffling on my iPod. I have no idea how this combination made it together on the player.

Up the long, slow incline to Cedar Hill X Road. This is my road, but it is a fair ways to go yet. The last part is downhill and I turn in to head back through the park. I slow to walk through the park and take a few minutes to look up and enjoy the sky once again.

Thirty minutes. Seven and a half kilometres. I guess that isn’t half bad for not having run in a long time.

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