it rains a lot this time of year.

Ain't November no more and that's alright by me.  I've got nothing against the month itself.  Giving thanks happens far too infrequently so the last thing I want to do is wipe away the one month that demands we all at least go through the motions of recognizing whatever it is we cherish the most.

As the years go by and I watch my children already being better versions of me, as I continue to add names  to the list of people I wish lived closer, led lives that managed to overlap now and again with my own or, worse yet, were simply still living, I get better and better at being mindful of all there is to appreciate.  Focus drifts for periods of time, moods darken and the weight of day-to-day existence shrouds the holding up of all the good things now and again, but few days pass without my remembering my blessings.

This month my health failed me and only slowly and very recently did it begin to return.  Running didn't happen and, insignificant as that seems in the grand scheme (is there such a thing?), my spirits reeled in its absence.  I despise being ill--who doesn't--and struggle mightily when the rest of my household is sick at that same time because I feel that much more defeated and incapable.  It's made the recent weeks difficult and, illogically I suppose, the whole mess ends up unfairly and arbitrarely associated with the current month. The turning of the calendar page feels like starting over.

And today, or the day that ended just minutes ago, November 30, felt like a headstart.

Minor miracles happen daily, I'm convinced of it, but on the best of days, on hyper-receptive, eyes-wide-open days, those miracles are unmistakeable and nearly constant.  Don't even get me started listing all that I think is taken for granted every second of every day, especially in a country as privileged as our's.  Next time you're grumbling your way to work think about the fact that you just climbed into a wheeled metal enclosure that is safely and speedily whisking you from where you were to where you're going in a manner absolutely inconceivable only a handful of generations ago.  Call it what you will but I put it in or very close to the miracle category.

Back from the tangent.

I woke up today and I felt fantastic.  Without the sickness of the last few weeks, I likely wouldn't have noticed, but I sure did this morning.  Nothing ached.  This didn't hurt and neither did that.  I actually wanted to drink my coffee and when I did it tasted, damned if it didn't, just like coffee.  Beautiful.

I'd learned yesterday that I was going to need to duck out of work early today because our babysitter needed to attend to family matters and Lindsay had clinicals.  Some people love getting out of work and seemingly spend a good bit of their time devising (perhaps that's the grand scheme) ways to do so.  Not me.  I love my job and even if I didn't, I'd still feel compelled, having agreed to employment in the first place, to show up and put forth my best effort.  Knowing I have to bail early on my co-workers doesn't sit well and when it has to be the case it often casts a shadow on my entire day.  But today was a day where I managed to accomplish all that I intended during my short stay and actually knocked out a couple of to do's I didn't expect to get to which certainly qualifies as miraculous.

As far as the girls were concerned, I'd played hookie expressly to come home and play with them.  It wasn't exactly true but who was I to strip them of that interpretation?  Instead, I embraced the concept and we spent every last second of autumn daylight playing outside, rolling in the leaves, chasing each other to there to here and back to there, clambering around a local playground, reenacting and reinventing parties and picnics of seasons past.

The girls laughed, smiled and forgot that getting in spats with each other is part of their normal schedule.  They posed, without prompting, for photographs, something they, and especially Piper Bea, rarely agree to do.

There were countless little nudges to remind me that these moments really are fleeting and that my task (and privilege), beyond nurturing, teaching and protecting my daughters is to BE with them.  I don't mean physically having them near to me, though I suppose that's part of it, but being there, right there, while they do what they do without steering, directing or advising from me.  They are children and it's nearly impossible for them NOT to find adventure and unearth new wonders unless I get in their way or allow someone or something else to be the obstacle.  Obstacles like too many hours in a work week, chores, bill paying/fretting, railing against mankind instead of turning down the volume and listening.

I need to let my children be children, comfortable and sure in my presence.  Today was one of my better days at BEING with them and it was lovely.

After the fading light and falling temperatures drove us indoors, we ate together and then read books until both Lil's and Pipe's eyelids began to resign themselves to sleep.

Soon after tuck-ins, Lindsay returned home and urged me out the door to run and run I did.  It was the first time back on a trail and beneath a headlamp for several weeks and the return was pure joy.  I truly am without words to properly express how right the world was for those few miles alone in the woods after a fulfilling day and so I will leave it at that.

Tomorrow I'll get the girls up and we'll see what new adventures await.  Later in the morning, I'll be helping to moderate iRunFar's coverage of the always competitive The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships being held near San Francisco in what looks to be incredibly wet, nasty conditions.

And if you can't see the miracle in my being able to fully immerse myself in a rain-soaked race taking place on the other side of the country (from the comfort of my own home) and converse in real time with folks from all over the planet doing the very same thing, well, then I think it's fortunate that Thanksgiving is behind you and you can spend almost an entire year without having to begrudgingly conjure up something for which to feign appreciation.

As for me, I'll be sitting right here on my couch, thankful as can be for all that life is.  Until that race is over and then you can bet your ass I won't spend another second sitting inside.

For now, it's time for bed and even for that I'm thankful.  I'd nearly forgotten that sleep doesn't have to be simply an escape from sinus pressure and the fatigue of illness.  Sometimes it can just be refueling for whatever tomorrow is about to bring.


And to all my dear scattered, detached and/or departed friends and everyone headed out into the wind and weather of Marin County tomorrow morning, dogspeed and a nickel in the jukebox.


  1. Leon...I'm glad that you are back to good health. Just wanted to drop you this note and tell you that I truly enjoy reading your blog. As a parent and newbie runner, I too find myself struggling to balance the many facets of life.Most of my running is done in the dark after my kids are long asleep and the various household chores are complete for the day. Sunday mornings are often my only daylight runs of the week and are often a predawn to the Laurel Highlands trail.

    Keep up the great writing!

    --Mike Crowe

  2. Very nice read, my friend. I miss you and your beautiful family more than I can describe, and you will be missed in the mountains of Tennessee in a couple of weeks while I plow my way through 50 miles of fallen leaves. I hope to see you soon and share some trail with you.

  3. Mike & Kelly, thanks for the kind words! We gonna see you out on the LHT in June, Mike? Hope so. Kelly, missing out on Lookout Mountain is a total bummer, but, after the damage of the past few weeks, you might have needed to carry out or at least alert someone else to retrieve my carcass. Gonna be looking for some company on early morning runs in Salt Lake on January 23 and 24...any ideas?

  4. Yes, Leon, as long as the running gods are willing, I will be on the LHT in June. Looking forward to seeing the whole crew again. Looks like we will be putting in two relay teams, a couple 50Kers and at least one 70 miler. Should be a great time.