It’s Global Running Day!

I was supposed to go for a run yesterday but decided to go straight home instead. Two seconds after sitting down on the back patio I knew there was no hope of lacing up my running shoes. Some days it just isn’t going to happen. This morning was a different story. It’s Global Running Day! I set my alarm so I could wake up in enough time to go for an easy, rush-free run. Turns out the alarm wasn’t needed. My eyes popped open right on time. My clothes were all laid out in the guest bedroom so I didn’t wake up my wife digging around for a headband or a missing sock. Five minutes after waking up I was lacing up and out the door.

I did a brisk walk uphill to get warmed up, with the full intention of heading back downhill toward the park to finish my run. There’s a perfect 1-mile out and back from my doorstep that is a great “warm-up” since the park has maybe two miles of trail. Maybe. Turning right on my usual route, I jogged past a young man on his way to the park. He carries what I assume to be a large camera bag. I’ve seen him some mornings heading out of the “secret” back entrance with the same bag slung over his shoulder. This morning, as usual, I waved to him. He wished me a good morning and we continued on our separate ways.

A little while later, I headed into the back entrance of the park. The street dead-ends at the woods where a narrow trail continues on past a small county substation before dipping down into the cool shade of the oaks and pines. The first step onto the lightly graveled trail puts a smile on my face every time. This is where people were meant to exercise. Outside, in nature, with the earth beneath their feet. It’s been too long since running has been a regular habit for me. Today, here, is the perfect way to kick-start my habit.

I duck onto another path, this one even narrower, my arms and legs brushing the leaves as they close in around me. Happiness spreads across my face. I can already tell this is going to be the best part of my day. A foreign sound reaches my ears, soft at first, in the distance. Then, louder, I can make out the sounds of a woodwind instrument as the earthy tones cut through the morning silence. The make-shift trail opens up onto the main path around one of the park’s lakes. Through an opening in the trees I can see the young camera man setting up his equipment at the tip of a tiny strip of land jutting out into the middle of the lake.

A few more steps and I realize he hasn’t been carrying a camera bag to the park every morning. The unmistakable song of a bagpipe floats across the misty water as I run around the first curve of the trail. Is this really happening? It’s Global Running Day, and I get to run on a magical dirt path around my lake while listening to bagpipes. A chill spreads through my body as the song continues. The water easily carries the haunting sound to me as I follow the path around the lake, around the bagpiper. This is the best, most bizarre morning ever. I pass by the trail leading back home and decide to make one more lap around the lake, my runner’s high kicking into full gear. One more lap around the lake and this bagpipers music.  This is definitely a feeling I will never forget.

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