Sycamore Canyon

The first day of autumn, although it didn’t really feel like it.

I headed out to Sycamore Canyon because I wanted to run some of the trails, or at least territory, run in races like the Ray Miller 50/50, or the Lasse Virren 20K, both of which are completely different races from one another. I also had a hankering for the stretch of coast north of Zuma and Malibu. It’s a much more rugged stretch, and much less crowded. The mountains drop down into the ocean here.

The ocean is my go-to place whenever I am feeling a sense of loss. The mountains, on the other hand, are a place that gives me a great sense of freedom. Running from a rugged coast up into the mountains and then back down again, ending my day with my feet in cool Pacific, watching the sun set, allowed me to feel both: freedom and loss. Right now is a time when change, which is inevitable, seems to be a lot bigger than usual, and a lot bigger than I would prefer.

Fall is a slightly melancholic time anyway. A chunk of my growing up was done in Canada, and by the 1st of September we’d likely have been hit with the first frost. By the end of September the days were noticeably shorter and the cold was setlling in. Years later, in Norway, I lived far enough north that you could notice shortening of the day on a day-by-day basis. It was as though death was settling in. I had big problems with mortality and loss when I was 20 years old.

The change from summer to fall always seems to catch me off-guard. One day the ocean gets colder, seemingly overnight. There will be a briskness to the air, even if the temperatures are in the 80s. The light is different – better, actually. I’ll feel tired, and older than I felt just a few weeks before. Hell, I feel that way already, even if the change in seasons is for some reason delayed this year. Soon enough the holidays will be upon us, and the holidays were always a time of great conflict when I was kid.

For now, at least, I’ll just put on my shoes and run through the mountains. That’ll get me through. Today, it’s still hotter than hell.

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