Sometimes the right bird brings a good word on the run

Maybe I needed an extra boost, right about then.

A wonderfully warm stretch of days has settled into the Upper Midwest. This phenomena is odd and utterly welcome in mid-February, especially for runners. Sure, most of us are grateful to exercise sheltered options for running, such as gym treadmills and elliptical machines and indoor tracks. But give us a couple of unseasonably beautiful days, and we’ll likely find a way to block out some time for longer runs under the sky.

Count me in.

I mapped out a 10-mile route on Saturday. I filled my Camelbak and tucked a pack of fruity gummies in my phone belt. I set my Charity Miles and tracker app. And off I went, trudging happily along the side of the road to pick up my path.

As I passed the seven-mile point (with Runkeeper chirping its distance update in my headphones), I think I sort of sighed. The biggest and longest hill of the route waited just around the next corner.

“One-two-three-four. One-two-three-four.”

Just then, I looked up and saw a bald eagle flying directly over my head in the picture-perfect blue sky. No, it wasn’t a vulture!

This majestic creature swept effortlessly out over a farm field to my left and then doubled back across the sky above me before soaring off over the woods to the right.

Collage created by this user with Team RWB logo, public domain eagle, and LAN/Runkeeper photos.

What a glorious sight.

I pondered the many ways this was a cool thing to see, as well as the perfect timing of it.

  • The eagle reminded me of one of my favorite Bible promises: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)
  • I run with a group called Team RWB (Red, White, and Blue). This organization, which supports and provides programs for US Armed Forces veterans, has an eagle as its emblem. Seeing the eagle reminded me of these courageous and bold friends, many of whom run a lot longer distances than I do (often carrying weighted packs).
  • Bald eagles are pretty rare, and this one was a beauty to see.

Just as my own fatigue threatened to become a proverbial albatross around my neck, perhaps preventing me from finishing my first 10-mile run in months, the eagle appeared and raised my spirit. Instead of focusing on all of the body parts that throbbed and ached and burned at that point, I reconsidered the scenic views all around.

And, although I may not have been as graceful as a swan, especially for those last three miles, I completed the course in a reasonably acceptable training time. (Perhaps the only drawbacks were a couple of blackening toenails, as shown in the photo. Those kind of go with the territory for runners.)

Within another day or two, the temperature will likely drop like a rock around here. The winter winds will probably pick up. Sloppy white stuff will fall from the sky. And we’ll all go back to the gym. In the meantime, however, it’s nice to know the eagle flies.

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