Monday, November 22, 2010

Sound effects

I didn’t think there was much more I could write about running. I’ve been running for 26 years now and writing about it nearly that long. Having just finished writing a memoir about running, I felt a little bit as if the well had run dry. I honestly thought I was done with the topic, from a literary perspective, at least temporarily.

Then yesterday while I was out running, I noticed the sounds. And I recognized right away that I’d never written about the sounds, because I’d never before given any thought to the sounds.

Midafternoon on a chilly mid-autumn day in Carlisle, as I ran four miles along the back roads, through the center, and home via the Bedford Road footpath, I heard all of this:

My feet thunking on the asphalt of the roadways
The scritch-scritch of a rake against pavement as I passed a neighbor raking her driveway
Gravel crunching under my shoes on the footpaths
Cars whooshing up behind me
The scuff-scuff of my feet against the packed dirt of our long driveway
The wind schussing through the dry brown leaves left on the trees
The tump-tump-tump of another pair of shoes as a runner passed me
Multiple geese honking in a high-pitched clamor from their pasture at Kimball Farm
The mid-pitched conversation between two bicyclists and their whirring tires as they sped by me
The church bell striking three o’clock

This was a quiet afternoon. Weekday mornings, when I usually run, are louder, with the roar of school buses, the steady thrum of continuous traffic, the heavy engine sounds of trucks; but the automotive sounds are so loud at that time that I miss out on everything else. Yesterday afternoon, the sounds were in balance: cars, wind, running shoes, geese. All the elements of a quiet Sunday afternoon worked in harmony to make up my soundtrack – and for what seemed to be the first time in 26 years, I noticed the sounds of my daily run.

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