Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Of Wisconsin

Here's the thing about Wisconsin, or at least this little corner 15 miles out of Madison that I'm familiar with: it's so beautiful. Impossibly beautiful. Storybook beautiful. There are so many colors, everything is so lush. Farms are everwhere, growing corn or beans or tending cattle. Every road seems like a little country road, rarely traveled. Not a mile from the busy highway that blurs past my family's lakehouse where I'm staying and it feels like I'm in the middle of nowhere. It lends to a feeling of simplicity. It relaxes. It's good.

Running here is useful in almost everyway - this particular area is really hilly, which is great for strength. It's so freakshow pretty that miles tick by without my being aware. And there's so much to amuse me on the run - cows chilling out literally on the side of the road. A chicken coop with, like, 10 chickens or something just clucking away. Every hillcrest is a get-out-the-camera kind of event, because there's some new meadow or creek or field that, inevitably, cannot be captured in the stillness of a photographic instant. I get back from my workouts feeling energized, rather than tired. And the cool-downs on the dock with two good friends at my side can't be beat.

I know I've been intimating about this sort of thing for the past few weeks, and I'm aware I sound increasingly corny, but: last night after sleeping hard for four hours I suddenly bolted wide awake, for no reason. So I rolled around a bit trying to fall back asleep before finally getting up to get a drink. On the way I looked out the window, so I went out on the end of the dock and just sat there. The moon was a shard, hanging low and bright. It reflected amber of a perfectly still, oily canvas underneath it. The sky was littered with stars, like God had just thrown glitter into the air and froze it in time. The trees that surround the lake stood out only as starless blackness against the dotted frame. I sat there for a long time and just looked into the sky, and I wondered - when was the last time I did this? When was the last time I stared into a starswept sky and just let the curious night exist around me, for no reason at all? At least 10 years, I think. I used to do it a lot, back then. But you get older, and something seems to be more important, and you start taking it all for granted a little bit, I think. And it becomes not unimportant, but unappreciated. Remembered, instead of revelled. It felt good to lay there like that and just be. And I got to thinking how reacquainted I'm feeling with the world. With the natural world in particular. You can't spend 8 or 10 hours on a bike every week, or run these many hours outside without having more than a passing awareness of the country around you. And it's more than an appreciation for its obvious beauty - it's simple things like the sounds of a bog when you ride by, the smell of lawn clippings, the sounds of hawks and thunder. I don't mean to get all "one with nature", but seriously - people don't live there anymore. I didn't, anyway. And I think we're missing out. I think if you haven't been saturated with rain lately, you should try it. If you haven't felt like your breathing and footfalls were a bit intrusive to the otherwise pure symphony around you, you should go do that. I think there's a world around us that we don't live in anymore, and it's better than the one we've chosen.

End philosophical waxing.

A busy day of work today, then some open water swimming and an hour on the bike. Looking forward especially to the bike! Chance of thunderstorms rolling in later today, so we'll see what's in store.


Pharmie said...

Wow. Makes me wish that I was out there instead of heading to work tomorrow. I just got back from camping in WI this past weekend, and it was tons of fun. Hope you get a little time to enjoy it between your training and working :)

xt4 said...

Me too SLS. Hey I've been meaning to say: SWEET that you won the QR bike at the Duathlon!!!! I did that race last year - the trail run did me in, man. Nasty stuff. When will you begin training on the bike? Very cool.

Pharmie said...

The bike is currently WAY on backorder. Right now, they're saying that QR will have more made by sometime in August. I don't know where that will leave me with training or if I'll even have it by IM. Even if I get it late August, it makes me a little nervous to think of having very few miles on it before riding 112 miles in IM. I started my training thinking that I would just do the IM with my road bike and aero bars (funds are starting to run a little low after a year of no pay on rotations). I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can't hold my breath and just need to train like I'll be riding my current bike in Sept. If the new bike shows up in the meantime, though, I'll be ecstatic.

xt4 said...

Ack, yeah that is a bit unnerving. Make sure with the new bike that you get a great professional fitting - and for what it's worth (In My Humble Opinion) Erik's can't fit a bike to save their asses, and Gearwest didn't blow me away with my fitting there last year, either. There's a shop in Madison called Cronometro that's really amazing, so maybe look into that if you want to; I attribute a chunk of my improvements this year to just having a really greate bike fit at last. Are you fit well now? If you're fit well now, a good shop can take those measurements and translate them over to the new bike. But I think you mentioned you're on a road bike now, and riding a Tri bike is, for me anyway, a whole other thing - the geometry is dramatically different. Anyway. Not that you asked for my advice. :) Good luck and be sure to post some picks of the Kilo on your blog when it gets in!