The new normal

Yesterday was a Wow! of a day, a short-sleeve day in November. The grass in our front yard is still green; if I squinted, I could pretend that the stub-ends of fallen leaves are new spring buds.

Jumping out of my skin for such a gorgeous day, I took my friend Amy (of the entertaining She Eats! blog) to the SMP trails in the morning, then in the afternoon took the Trek FX 7.5 for a fast, windy spin.

Amy is one of my favorite people in the world to hang out with. She laughs a lot, cracks good jokes, recommends books that make my brain flip over sideways, sings a delighted karaoke, and doesn't parcel out her excitement about things as though life were a pie chart. She's a good egg.

When Amy asks me a question, she wants a real answer. But because I am fairly slow-witted, I don't come up with anything good until after she goes home. About ten minutes into our loop around Orange, Amy asked: "What's changed for you after becoming so active? What's that experience like in your body?"

I feel connected to my body, I told her. And I have some proprioception now.

Explain it to me, she said. We talked about it for a couple of minutes. But because of (a) the slow-wittedness and (b) the extreme distraction of feet and legs that wanted to pick me up and fly away with me, I gave her an uncooked pudding of an answer.

This week I'm going to try to cook that pudding. The question on the table is: "You were once physically inactive and now are very active. What's changed as a result?"

But before that:

Six Notes from a Short-Sleeved November Day

1) Amy wore her Vibram Five-Fingers. Her assessment: They are great for the rest of your body but can make life painful for the soles of your feet. Especially if you are going over rocks. I believe the word was "OWWWWWW."

2) We covered both Orange and Violent in a bungee-cord run. That is, we ran together through the first bit of elevation change on Orange. Then Amy alternated walking and running, and I felt like an idiot for not knowing how to just walk with her and enjoy myself, and with great maternal instinct Amy told me not to actually BE an idiot and to go rip it up. So I'd run off like a fiend and when I got about a quarter mile away would turn and run pellmell back to her, then repeat. Bungee cord. We'd walk and chat for a bit, then I'd say "OK! Gotta go!" and she'd say, "Go!"

3) Bungee cord runs are for people who aren't going the same pace but want to touch base and finish together. The person at the faster pace has to discard all importance placed on times and distances, and the person at the slower pace has to absolutely not care about watching her friend run away from her. If both people enjoy their own experience covering the ground, and enjoy each other's company when they meet on the run, what else matters?

4) What a fantastic run. There's a twisty bit on the north side of Violent and I'd never run it downhill. I was going so fast that it felt like flying! I couldn't slow down and couldn't stop laughing! I laughed like a hyena all the way down and when I cannonballed past the resting mountain biker at the bottom of that bit he was cracking up and yelled at me, "Don't have too much fun!" It was the kind of run where everything felt spring-loaded and feather-light. I believe there was actual yelling in pure pleasure. (Amy confirms.)

5) Loved being on the bike again. Loved seeing that the trainer time and lighter payload are paying off — strong cadence, a lot faster on flat stretches (18-20mph neighborhood vs. the earlier 15, headwind incl., yes I'm proud), and rollers are easier to roll over. I looped up and down Mission a couple of extra times just to have fun going that fast. Oh, and I'd cleaned the chain but the bike needs some TLC. It was making a pedal noise like "ha! ha! ha!" at me — but only when I slowed down. Great. Now even my bike knows how to goad me.

6) Amy said, "I wish I would see a snake." Why? "Because I like snakes." Yep, a good egg. I hope she comes back on the trail with me this summer. The snakes are all hers.