At some point during each run this past week, I've had to stop and pinch myself to make sure I'm really running along the Pacific Ocean; that the colorful tangle and variety of flowers are real; that those are seals and pelicans I'm seeing in and on the gray and foaming water. The only rule I have is that some portion of the morning run must be along the beach. Otherwise I take whatever turn looks interesting - skinny stairways, thin alleys, wet sea rocks.
This is not a revelation to runners: running is a great way to
explore a new place. I'm finding this out all over again on my
trip to La Jolla. Each morning I get up before the traffic and the
crowds on the sidewalk and hoof it all over town - down sand-covered stairs
that lead to the water and back up through the quiet streets - admiring
waves and sand; flowers and trees; homes and shops. What is drudgery at
home (the daily workout) becomes something to anticipate in the
mornings. The air is cool and smells of salt and seaweed and blossoms.
Running is active meditation. I think about everything and nothing at all. Problems get probed and solved. Ideas bloom or get rejected. The day gets fleshed out and breakfast becomes the most tempting and earned meal of the day.
Despite the exotic surroundings, I will be glad to get back home. The press of people and traffic and the constant noise of a populous place are wearing. I'm looking forward to quiet and space. But still, running here has been a joy. I've got four more days of it here in Southern California. Tomorrow I'm planning on heading in a different direction, to an area called Windansea and then maybe into the Bird Rock neighborhood. I can't wait to see what's there.