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Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago, I said this:
Not since high school have I run side by side with someone. I have wanted to. I invited someone who was supposedly training for the Leukemia Society’s half marathon and he turned me down. I challenged someone who wants to WALK a 13.1 miler, she chickened out. I’ve strode next to lots of someones at the Gerbil Cage, but side by side on treadmills are nowhere near the real thing of running side by side outside.
Thursday my sister and I ran. She’s trying to lose pregnancy belly fat and I’m trying to lose my fear of everything that strangles my psyche. Despite the fact I barely got any sleep the night before I got up at 5:30am to chase the early morning light around my sister’s island. If there was an emotion that permeated my brain that a.m. it was envy. She runs in the most beautiful place. How do I explain this? She runs on a dirt road that turns paved. She runs in the woods, through a still-sleepy town, along the shore line, past beautiful, sea-weathered cottages. She smells pines, fresh bread baking, island roses and the sharp ocean. She sees gulls and finches, butterflies and curled up cats, tiger lilies and seaweed covered shorelines. She hears fog horns, waves lapping and whispering trees. In the distance a horse calls and a dog answers. Birds sing continuously. She stops for water, plucks blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and even late blooming strawberries before moving on.
We promised no chatting but I couldn’t help commenting on cottages for sale, sleeping dogs on porches and classic lobster boats offshore. A bell buoy clanged in the distance and I could almost picture myself living here. I got so caught up in the fantasy that I forgot I was running.
4.5 miles later my sister announced, “I walk at the bricks” and true to her word she slowed to a walk where the sidewalk ended. As the sweat cooled on my back I marveled at how easy it had been to run on her island. How easy it had been to run with her. In high school she ran cross country. I ran away from physical activity. She has always been Miss Athlete, despite having two kids. I have always been Miss Bookwormslug. I never in a million years thought I would run with her…much less actually keep up.

Knee conversation – not a peep. Must be the huge shoes!

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Categories: Confessional, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sisters

This was then – November 23, 2005 –
This started out as the run from hell. It all started with my sister telling me she only runs for 30 minutes. (At the time she told me this I remember thinking, “oh good. I’m way past running for just 30 minutes and felt relieved.) If I remember correctly she said she’s up to 3.5 – 4miles at a time. The last time I ran I covered four miles in 50 minutes. That means she is definitely going to smoke my azz when we run together this weekend. Not good. Not good at all. So, I decided to step it up, just to see if I could even do it.
I started this run at dusk. Great for losing the Everybody Is Looking At Me attitude. Not so great for maneuvering around pushed up sidewalks and overzealous roots. I also started this run with a new-fangled toy my husband bought me – one of those fancy armband music things. (Don’t I sound 80 years old? I don’t know what an mp3 player is!) It’s this armband thingy that has me thinking this was going to be the worst run of my life. First, my arm is too skinny. The Velcro strap wouldn’t cinch tight enough to keep it high up on my arm. (Looking back I remember how silly Kisa and I got trying to make the strap tight enough to fit my arm. We were reduced to giggles by the time I hit the road.) Five minutes into my run and the whole thing had slid down to the crook of my elbow. If I didn’t keep my arm bent the entire time the whole thing would have gone flying off, for sure. Second, if you aren’t fast enough with the buttons (say, starting the stopwatch thingy) you have to start all over again. Then, I couldn’t figure out how to play the next song. I ran through three Sparks before I realized the song was looping. Because I couldn’t stop in mid-run to figure it out I blindly pushed buttons until I got the song to advance. It reminded me of when my sister and I were kids and we had to hurry to get our chores done. We would pretend we had a “faster” program built into our arms and by pushing these “buttons” we could work faster (A la bionic man?) Silly. Third complaint. These earbud things! I couldn’t get them to stay in my ears to save my life! Ugh! It was the most distracted run ever!
So. I had all these complaints about my new toy. I was convinced I would throw the thing at my husband’s head when I got home. I was absolutely convinced I would go back to the days of holding a giant disc-man in my hand as I ran. But, along the way something amazing happened. As long as I remember to advance to the next song I didn’t have to worry about a cd ending. I could just run and run and run. I flew along the darkening streets. I concentrated on the smells in the air – someone drying laundry, someone grilling hamburgers, someone else’s wood stove, a car in need of an oil change, stupid stuff (?!). My legs were tireless and my heart soared. THIS was the way to run. It felt so good to just go! Who cares that I couldn’t keep my new toy on my arm? Who cares that my earbuds wouldn’t stay tight? Who cares that I had to reach over to push next every time a song ended? I was running life the wind. It was the best run of my life.

Here and now – I love this post because it is a litany of firsts – first time wearing an mp3 player. Yes, I really did hold a Sony discman in my left hand when I first started running. It was my first time wearing earbuds as apposed to honking huge headphones. But, even that has magic to it. There I was, holding a discman, wearing 70s style headphones, running like a hippo and I did not care. I’ll say it again. I. Did. Not. Care. This was also the first time I went running at dusk and discovered I really love the gloaming. The one thing that makes me sad about this post is that I never fess up to exactly how long I ran.

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Laugh or Cry…It’s all the Same

November 21st, 2005

This is my run today. Can you tell who I ran with?
“Life is like a mean machine -> Just another heartache on my list ->Someone broken -> Where you gonna run to now? -> Cuz it’s gonna be aright -> I don’t wanna get walked on -> I would give my life to save you – >you heard of this emotional trickery -> pray just a little when every little thing starts fallin’ to pieces -> light your bright light shine – >try to live a better life ->you will not be forgotten, I will not let you down.” Yes. I ran through the entire Something To Be album. Mr. Thomas with me the whole way. The whole way. 50 minutes straight without one walking step. A father is buried today. My heart breaks today. I think I broke four miles today. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Here and now – a life in parallel: Last night I ran for 45 minutes and managed to squeeze out 4.28 miles. It’s been awhile since I ran over four miles *truly* pain free so this was a huge milestone. But, I celebrated quietly with doing four loads of laundry, grocery shopping and scrubbing the bathroom. Life goes on and if I want this 4.28 miles to be the norm I must treat it as such. Mentally and physically.

Categories: Confessional, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

This Old Glove

Ever since I moved away from my favorite run route I have been a practicing gerbil. The TreadWheel to nowhere. Round and round I go without going anywhere. Outside my window there are no sidewalks; none in my immediate vicinity. I need to flirt with automobile traffic to even get to one and once I’ve done that it’s noisy and dirty and uncomfortable. Needless to say I am not an outdoor runner these days (and before you say it, no I will not drive to a place to run. It just goes against my sensibilities. I just can’t do it.)
It was this post that made me miss my old haunt:

November 19th, 2005
Angst. I felt like lead today. Never again am I submitting my body to bad food, not am I skipping a workout. I’m angry at myself for letting a good time get in the way of such an important goal (I’m assuming I meant the half marathon because I have never been a weight watcher.) Running felt like hell. I was dragging a sack of potatoes behind my azz and sucking wind the entire way. I never got into that groove I so love to find. It’s colder now and I can’t seem to figure out hot to “blow snot,” either. I’m paranoid I’m going to end up wearing the slime on my face and it’ll freeze there like some green gross glob. Someone will mistake me for a snot-wearing, sweaty, heavy breathing, lumbering lunatic. Look out! A mental patient on the loose! As it is, men yell ever-so-flattering comments like “yeah, baby!” and “jiggle your jugs!” out their truck windows as they fly past me at 50 miles per hour (in a 25, I might add!). Are they blind? These A cups are not going anywhere -up or down. Seriously.
Euphoria is fleeting – The good news is that I ran my last route (the no-hill route) again…and thensome. According to iShape I finally broke three miles. Won’t know for sure until I can get kisa to drive it in his truck. I do know that I ran through Ruby – the entire album (39 minute/40 seconds) and I added another 1 min/40s in order to go home. I’m going to beg (please, please, please) J for some drums when he gets back from the hockey game. I need something more pounding, move driving, something that matches my heartbeat. No offense to Ruby. I’m just angrier than that.
I’m glad I retraced my last run’s footsteps because I was able to reclaim a glove I didn’t know I had lost. Before the run I conducted a lame search for it. Lame being “I bet it’s in this pocket. Nope. Huh. I guess it’s around here somewhere.” And out the door I went. It’s a little worse for wear (looks like a few people stepped on it) but I’m glad I found it just the same. (I still have the gloves and to this day I won’t wear them for anything else but running) Goals: By NEXT Monday I want to run four miles. Promises: Eating better & not skipping the routine. Ever.

It’s funny but I don’t remember what I did that caused me to miss a run date or eat so poorly. Hell, I don’t even remember what crap I ate. Guilt has this funny way of hanging around for no apparent reason. My latest guilt is all about the gloves. I think I need to take this run outside. No. I know I need to.

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Watching Myself

I graduated from PT last night. It was a very exciting moment when the strength training therapist told me I had “killer quads and hips to match.” It was even more invigorating to learn that my leg length discrepancy has been partially resolved. I’m on my way to becoming beaucoup balanced. Thank you very much.

The other thing that is beyond inspiring is rereading this silly 2005 journal. I love revisiting myself and moi if only to witness the birth of a runner. I had to laugh about my on-going obsession with hills:

“From November 16, 2005 –
Today is an amazing day. Not only did I find a way to cheat at running hills, but I ran through almost all of Away From Here. I found a way to run without meeting a single intimidating, hellish hill. My solution? Just don’t ever leave the hill! Ha! For some reason if you run towards Look PArk and along Bridge Road you never encounter an energy sapping incline.(Don’t let me fool moi. There ARE inclines, just not the ones that make you feel noodle-ish and stupid afterward.) Miss S., you will know the route: behind my house, through town (watch for idiots running the red light), up to Look Park (avoid the mean dog at #32), down Bridge Street (stay off the bike path – too many teenagers smoking and skipping school this time of say), to Chestnut Street and voila! Home! Back where I started. Again, I have no idea what the actual distance is, but I managed to push through “Whenever You’re Around” and “Anyway” and 30 seconds of “Kiss Me Here (reprise)”…so close to finishing the entire album. So friggin’ close. I should have kept going. I realize now I only had a mere 90 seconds left. Lame. I could have done it. I ran out of sidewalk and it started to pour. Pathetic tail-between-my-legs excuses, but true. Next time! But! Still. I ran 36 minutes straight.

Here and now – I had a work-ethic breakdown with a few staff members last night (What part of This Isn’t DisneyLand don’t you understand?) and was a little on the seething side by the time I got home. As soon as I got in the front door, had disarmed Hilltop, and fed the beasts I was reaching for my running shoes. 3.95 in 40 min. Slower today, but still moving away from that 30 minute rut I was in.Best ipod moment: Always On the Run ~ Lenny Kravitz

Here’s what I wish. I wish I could have that wide-eyed excitement over 36 minutes again. I hate how impatient I am – how I can remember running for two hours straight. Every minute under my milestone makes me feel slacker and stupid. I’m constantly comparing my run of today with moi’s run of yesteryear. Why can’t I remember that I’m coming off a huge hurt? I should be celebrating the small stuff. 3.95 miles and no pain. Whatsoever.

Categories: Confessional, life, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ugly Truth

I’m still rereading my old run journal from the half marathon. What surprises me the most is how obsessed I was with the damned hill we used to live on:

November 14, 2005 –
I have faced the ugly truth. We live on a hill. No matter where you go all roads that lead home are UP. I have tried to run my route backwards and guess what? It’s even more of an uphill battle. Literally. I do have good news, though (and it’s not my car insurance). I ran through ‘Whenever You’re Around’ (the happiest song ever written)! According to iShape I ran 2.77 miles today (33 minutes straight). I didn’t think I could run through ‘Paper Moon’ never mind six (yes, six) songs later. I’m still in love with the drum/bass cooperation in ‘Uncomfortable’ and how the guitar bounces from ear to ear in my headphones. I am blessed with warm weather, a friendly neighborhood and decent running shoes. Tonight (tonight!) is the Team Leukemia information session.

Here and now – I had a lot of pent up anger last night. I took it out on kisa when he failed to read a text about an avocado. Clearly, I had lost my mind. The solution? The gerbil cage. 3.5 miles/35 min. Nothing more. nothing less. I still had dinner to make, PT exercises to do, letters to write, a life to live. During the last six minutes kisa came to talk about cable. He knew that I had calmed down enough to converse so I apologized for my crankiness. We talked murder. For once I was glad I didn’t take to the hills for this run. By the time I stepped off the tread my world was back in place. Mental alignment was a success.
Best run song of the night: Viva la Vida by Coldplay

Categories: Confessional, life, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Answer to Hills

When I was training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society half marathon I worried a lot about hills when I should have been worried about something else. Here’s what I said on November 13th, 2005:

No running today. I had enough time for CBS Sunday Morning, coffee and off to work. Since I don’t run after dark I won’t be hitting the pavement at all. So, why the blog? Two things: a new strategy for facing the inclines and advice on running longer. The good news is I now have a route I like to run. The bad news is that it ends with a slow, steady incline that I don’t have the gumption or energy to face. My solution, thanks to Mr. Practical? Run the route backwards! Genius! I’m cheating. I know it. But, at least I’ll avoid the psychological ball-buster until I’m ready – mentally and physically. Strategy Number two: running longer. I met a drummer today. Or rather, a drummer’s mother. Son is 17 and in a band (aren’t they all?). I’m hoping she can get him to lay down some heavy, pulse pounding, spur-me-on beats. I should also mention I am getting great advice from honest-to-goodness real runners. “Run on soft surfaces as much as you can to save your knees (note that didn’t work) and shins. Keep your eyes down when you run uphill. Looking up a huge hill can psyche you out (aha!). Thin running gloves help a lot in the winter. Don’t believe the sports drink hype- nothing’s better than water.” I’m putting all that to the test tomorrow. Goal: hit the three mile mark.

So. Here I am six years later. I honestly believe I never really trained for the half, let alone trained properly. I was alone with me, myself and moi for company. We read a lot of decent books, talked to a lot of good people, surfed a lot of interesting websites, but in the end, ran completely and utterly alone. It made me gun shy of groups. It made me insecure about my abilities. I see that now. And yet, nothing has changed. I have reclused myself even further. Instead of running outside where the potential for human contact is present (other runners, dog walkers, baby strollers, cars backing out of driveways, kids walking home from school, dads taking the trash out) I run on a treadmill, staring at a big red wall. It’s the color of cayenne pepper but who am I kidding? I found the answer to hills on a treadmill I control.

Categories: Confessional, life, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Detailed Little Devil

In the midst of all my mindless cleaning I came across a jacket I never wear anymore. I’ve never really liked the way it looked on me and was so ready to recycle. Ready until I read Run #2’s blog from the LLS training. Damn me for being so detailed:

Ups and Downs. First the downs (because that’s the way I am), because I want to vent, get it out and move on. I didn’t attend the Team Leukemia/Lymphoma meeting an Agawam. Grrr. My teaching schedule got the better of me when TLL changed to the location and time of the information meeting. Bummer.
The good news is that I can attend a meeting in Northampton later this month. It will require me taking some time off, but I can afford to do that, mentally and physically. Onto the good stuff: the run! I was really happy with Day 1’s run so I asked Kisa (I didn’t call him that back then, though) to drive it, just to measure the distance…drumroll please…2.2 miles! Yay! I never expected it to be a mile, let alone plural! I have no sense of distance so I’m really proud of myself. I let the accomplishment sink in all day while we ran other errands (no pun intended). But, wait! It gets better! Kisa bought me an Adidas running jacket (pink, white and black) and I had the itch to test it out. Armed with ‘Away From Here’ and my new jacket I set out again. It started with a little competitiveness (which I won’t get into) but soon I was alone, running with my thoughts. I’ve discovered I hate the sound of my feet, slapping the pavement. I sound lumbering, ungraceful and heaving (some things never change). I’d rather listen to my life source blood pulsing and ever stronger heartbeat…if anything at all. I’ve taken to running in the leaves to muffle the sound. Dead animals and doo doo be damned! Determined to run longer, I had sirsy to keep me going. I never thought I would say this but Uncomfortable really has become my theme song. Aside from the anger-inducing lyrics I have been fixated on the drums and bass, working together in ominous tandem. I hone into the power of the pulsing and push on. Past the high school and up the hill, I made it through You…and beyond.
2.6 miles. I made it 2.6 miles straight. I made kisa drive me around my route again to determine the totals: 2.6 run/.4 walk/.6 run to equal 3.6 miles covered for tonight. I am proud of myself. For sure.
The next challenge: 3 miles straight. I’m going to ask kisa to loop Bonzo’s Montreaux (I want to call it Gonzo’s Revenge for some reason).

Damn it. Now I can’t get rid of the jacket. Now I’ll never forget where it came from either.

Angry from sitting and seething in a ridiculous meeting I went home and ran 3.74. More on that debacle later.

Categories: Confessional, running | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

When In Doubt

Last weekend I had another one of my classic “fits.” Randomly and completely without warning I will think of  my life as too cluttered, too hoardish. I get a strong desire to rent a dumpster and purge material waste. I go through these phases when I’m emotionally bogged down and all I want is sparse and room to spare in every aspect of my life. In this mindset I attacked a storage space I refer to as the “workout” closet. Out came ten years of Real Simple magazines, ankle weights (hey, I can use them in therapy), resistance bands from the first PT stint, exercises clipped from magazines, yoga blocks, hair ties with spent elastic, a plethora of water bottles in all shapes and sizes (I think someone is trying to tell me something), and. And! And, my running journal from 2005. More specifically, this was my training log for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s half marathon!

To those of you who don’t know me this is like finding a shoebox of old love letters. I was in love with running and this was the proof. It IS the proof. My hands trembled to realize I held day one in them. Back where it all began, it began with a simple desire to run. All this time I have been telling people I didn’t start running until Team in Training. That’s so not true.

When I told a friend I found the journal her reaction surprised me. She wanted to reread it with me. Sit on the floor and cry with me. Who knew that seven months of my life could move me so much? Impact someone else that much? There is no substitute for sharing in the moment at that moment, but maybe this is the next best thing (Black = original text; Green = my current day comments):

Day 1 (November 10th) Dare I Say?
Today is the first day I feel like a runner. I ran for 23 minutes straight. I have no clue how far that is, but in terms of my neighborhood it’s past Sojourner Truth, down liquor Hill, across from the grandparents, behind the high school and back around again (It’s 2.2 miles, mostly hills). In music terms it’s She Says through most of Please Let Me Be (Sirsy’s album Away From Here was my first choice for training music). By Monday I’ll get to You. I’ll pound it out to the drums, but sometimes the lyrics push me more. Uncomfortable has become my comfortable theme song. Anger to keep the legs moving (Uncomfortable is a song about sexual abuse – been there, dealt with that). I have my first Team Leukemia/Lymphoma meeting tonight. I’m nervous that I can’t stay for the whole thing because I also have to teach a class for English 101. Conflicting schedules. Not a good way to start. Ugh. Why do I feel like I’ve bitten the wrong end of the viper?”

My urge is to go back to the old haunts and run them again. Would I see Sojourner differently? Would liquor hill hurt me? What would I feel running by Grace? Would I run faster or slower? In pain or in love? When in doubt, just do it. Maybe this weekend.

Categories: Confessional, life, Old Blogs, running | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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