Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Run: a story of perspective

The Run version 1.0

Awake at 5:30 am.  Do I toss and turn for another hour or so like I did yesterday?  Nah, The Dr. says I need to exercise more, might as well get up and go for a run.  It's chilly outside, but not so bad that I'll need a jacket.  Throw on a sleeveless shirt under my black running shirt, my shorts, some good socks, shoes, and I'm out the door.  I have a loop around my half of the neighborhood (the hood is like a sort of sick figure eight) which is just over 1 mi.  Once around ought to do it.  

Right away I remember why spring runs are so exhilarating.  The wind.  after the first curve in my somewhat circley square-ish course, the wind hits me.  It's not a cold winter wind, the kind that makes breathing impossible and freezes your snot to your face.  It's cool, but that's it.  By now my breathing has settled into a pattern in sync with every 3rd footfall.  The lines of the sidewalk are disappearing under my feet in regular increments.  I barely notice the other runner coming the other direction, bundled up in layers (while this tough guy writing this is in  shorts).  No hello, no nod, just a vague awareness and on with the run.  

I turn the next sot of square-ish curve, and this is where I'm usually starting to feel the energy drain.  The last 150 feet or so were an ever so slight uphill, just enough to make me more tired than I should be.  I lighten the pace a bit, and by now my breathing is synced with every 2nd footstep.  This is probably the most challenging run I've had this year.  I'm winded, my knee is a little tight, and my breathing isn't as clear as I'd like.  This is the kind of run that my body needs to get strong.

I turn the next sort of curvish angle and begin the longest stretch of my run, which will eventually curve into the home stretch.  My sinuses are clearing up, the sun is rising, and the clouds are pretty cool.  My mind is steadied by the rhythmic breathing in line with my footsteps, which, to this point, haven't faltered yet. 

Down the road I go, around that last sort of curve, and it's an uphill finish.  I maintain the pace all the way to my driveway, walk 1/4 mi, and I'm done.  Time to sit down with a nice warm cup of lemon water to get the digestive juices flowing  before I start Breakfast and coffee for the Mrs.

The run 1.5

Ugh.  5:30 in the morning.  Can't sleep.  Probably something to do with that lunar eclipse the other night, or the full moon.  or both.  F* me sideways.  Well, I'm awake; everyone and their mother has been nagging me about exercise and a healthy lifestyle, so I'll go for a run.  Gonna suck, I know it's windy out there.  

Get dressed.  Stretch.  Think about going back to bed.  What's the point?  My 4 yr old will be crawling in between us any minute now anyway, right?  F* it.  Outside and running is no worse than getting kicked in the gut for 30 min before having to get up, right?  I get outside and start running.  It's not so bad.  I fall into a decent rhythm heading up to the first turn in my run.  Then it hits me: the wind.  This is what I HATE about running in the spring.  The wind is not frigid, but it's still cooler than the bed I was just laying in.  Dammit.  Look at this other runner, all bundled up.  I can't tell if it's a man or a woman from across the street, but they were smart (not too smart, since they're out running too).  I am starting to notice every foot step as I round the next turn.  My lungs are congested.  My throat is beginning to accumulate quite a bit of mucous, so I'm trying to balance breathing with clearing my throat.  Who's brilliant idea was this, anyway?  

The slight uphill has tapered into a less slight down hill.  Finally I can relax.  No, never mind, there's that pain in my knee.  more irritating than anything, but there, nonetheless.  Breath, spit, cringe; breath spit cringe.  I could be eating a sandwich right now.  I'm sweating now, but it's still windy.  so of course I feel colder. 

Last turn.  This pace is stupid fast (for me).  Now I face the unfortunate fast that I HAVE to keep running to keep warm.  The longest stretch of the run.  Boring too.  It just goes on.  And on.  And on.

And on.

Finally the home stretch.  Can't walk now either.  The neighbors might see me.  Gotta look tough.  I don't feel tough.  I feel miserable.  Here we are at the driveway.  Of course, I can't go in now, because if I just simply stop, I'm going to be really stiff for the rest of the day.  Gotta walk a bit.  Here I notice all the garbage in the small retention pond at the beginning of my street.  With a dead tree drowning in sorrow on it's side (blown in during a storm last year).  That's how I feel.  Drowned in discontent.  This running crap blows.

depending on the aspects of my run I focus on, and how I describe them, you could either really envy me, or really agree this was a bad idea, right?  Just as you may see me as that guy who exercises and just gets out and does what he should, with no complaints and no problems, or that guy who can barely roll out of bed and make coffee and breakfast for his kids without being tired and cranky, much less go for a run.  

I did have trouble sleeping this morning.  Per the doctor's orders for more exercise, and not wanting to lay there grumpy all morning, I got out and did it.  It was one of those runs that reminds me how out of shape I am.  When I run, and it sucks like today's did, poor health is no longer just an idea; something the doctor tells me horror stories about to scare me into taking better care of myself.  It's real.  I can feel it burn in my lungs.  It slides down the back of my throat, congesting my breathing.  It beats in my head, pulsing, crying to make it stop and just crawl back into bed.  That Negative feeling is like a demon.  Every time I find an excuse to not do something I should, the demon wins.  I could get into this from a more spiritual perspective, but I'm not one to thump my spiritual thought process in people's faces.  Suffice it to say, there's a deeper meaning to all this for me.

And finally, the point.  What is the point to all this?  Why go out and subject my mind and body to the stresses of an early morning run?  The sun isn't even up yet.  It has the common sense I lack, to not rise until after 6am.  I choose to see my run as I first described it.  It is a chance to get strong.  I want to be healthy, and I want my kids to be healthy.  How can I expect them to pursue a healthy lifestyle if they see me just sitting around eating bad food and playing video games?  How can I expect to see 60? 70?  by getting out and doing what has to be done.  Complaint-free or not, it still has to be done.

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