I haven’t gone for a run in months, mostly due to the unhealthy air quality from our wildfire-filled summer and autumn. But we got snow on Sunday and Monday, and the air is better than it’s been in a loooong time, so I got Zippy to join me on a run.
We look nothing like this couple. And our workout was nothing these two incredibly fit individuals would do, but that’s okay. We drove to another neighborhood that’s flat (ours is a constant up and down) and ran for 5 minutes then walked for 1 minute. Repeat. Our pace was slow, our muscles felt tight and heavy, but we were out on a beautiful blue-sky day. Moving. Breathing hard. Feeling (mostly) alive for a grand total of 3.45 miles. Woot!
Today I’m grateful for clean air and running once again!
Presenting . . . A Brief Exchange Between a Mother and Son
Me: Hey, if right now you said, ‘Mom, let’s go run,’ I would run.
Son: Really? You’d run?
Me: Yep. (Immediately feels a weakening of resolve ). Or, I could have an edible and a beer, and get in the tub.
Son: Oh, do that. That sounds way better!
Narrator: This concludes our straight-forward story. No twist, no surprise ending.
I use this blog to maintain a record of my day-to-day and appreciate the documentation it provides me. This site means more to me than anyone else who might happen upon it, and I acknowledge this truth.
So why is it still sometimes so hard to give myself permission to post a regular day’s snapshot of me when I feel less-than-great?
For instance: I ran today (after not running much over the past quarantine months), and instead of experiencing typical post-run endorphins, I wanted to punch something. Still do. I’m feeling stabby. I’m feeling old and slow and tired and fucking over it all.
There, I said it. Welcome to my head.
This week brought ice, snow, and frigid temperatures. But in classic Colorado style, today was blue skies, sunshine, and a balmy 55 degrees. My sons and a friend joined Emma and me on a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon, and the weather was so delicious I wanted more. When we got home, I put on my running togs and ran around the neighborhood streets.
And even though the sun has disappeared behind the hills, I’m still feeling good. Thank you, sunshine and endorphins!
Happy first day of spring! It’s a beautiful day in the Denver metro area, but I was inside for most of it as I struggled with my work-for-hire project. Late this afternoon I stepped away from my computer and went outside to run around the neighborhood multiple times. First loop was with my short-legged doggo who is sometimes more an anchor than a running partner. So I dropped her off at the house and went out again.
I’m feeling so much better now. Running for the win!
Zippy and I ran around the neighborhood with Emma this morning. Lots of sunshine. The rest of the day was filled with NBA basketball viewing plus a last-minute decision to bake cookies. We had (just barely) the ingredients for oatmeal raisin cookies and I made those while the games played in the background. Wildebeest and Emma napped together partway through the afternoon. Zebu went downstairs to shower in preparation for a family photo, but that was a couple hours ago and we haven’t seen him since. My best guess is he’s now napping, too.
Pretty much an ideal day.
This morning started with a run followed by delicious coffee and rice cakes smeared with peanut butter as I began working on revisions. Everything was clicking and life was good.
Looking back on it, I wish I’d bottled how I felt then because the day quickly took a number of turns for the worse and now I’m kinda worn out from it all. I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t conjure up those good feelings. Damn you, life’s curves and slick surfaces!
Ah well, tomorrow means a fresh start.
I ran cross country in high school. In addition to the regular conference meets, our coach entered us in quite a few invitationals around the state. We ran on many different courses. Before every race, our coach had us jog the two-mile course. One of my teammates always paid very close attention to the flags and turns, noting each. It was vital she knew where she was going because she was a front-runner and frequently won the races. From my perspective, the pre-race course jog was a warm-up and nothing more. There were always plenty of runners ahead of me in races and I’d just follow them.
Yesterday I decided to run the race route of a local 5k organized by the high school cross country coach. I’ve run the race several times and thought it would be a nice change to do a workout outside my immediate neighborhood. I assumed I’d remember the course route.
Turns out it would’ve been a good idea to go online and refresh my memory before taking off. Without runners ahead of me to lead the way, I got lost out there in the hot afternoon sun and with all the backtracking, ended up running considerably more than 3.1 miles.
Old habits die hard.
It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.
Joy comes in sips, not gulps.
~ Sharon Draper
Yesterday I went for a run on the trails. While stopping to stretch at the top of what Zippy and I refer to as “the slog,” I spotted a splash of bright pink off to the side of the trail. At first I thought it was a candy wrapper and as I moved closer, decided it was a painted rock. It was neither. Sitting there all by itself was a perfectly round, perfectly lovely little cactus. **
Later, as I continued running, I noticed something sticking out of my shoe. I figured it was grass that’d gotten stuck in some mud in my tread, and promptly forgot about it. However, when I was home and taking off my shoes, I nearly impaled myself. Not on a wad of grass, but on the spiny cactus that had hitched a ride on my shoe.
Now I remember why it’s much more fun to run on the trails than the streets.
(** I didn’t have a camera with me, but when Zippy went out to do an errand, he drove to the nearest trailhead and photographed the beauteous cactus for me.)
I just got home from a run in which my right hip got SO tight, I was forced to stop running. The pain was close to excruciating. It was definitely in the oh-my-effing-goddess category, and if I hadn’t known about the mind-body connection, I might’ve panicked and thought I’d suffered some horrible injury.
But I knew better.
So I stood there in the street and talked out loud to my brain. I said, “Brain, I get it. You know that I’m under a great deal of stress lately. You know I was just now thinking about how slow I’m running, how tired I’m feeling, how hard life seems to be these days. I was feeling sad-angry-depressed. And then BOOM, my hip locked up. But guess what? This bogus pain, that is NOT rooted in any kind of physical reality, will only get in the way of me being active and coping with those emotions. Running is what I need to do to live my life. Your job is to make sure I don’t trip on anything. Your job is to process info from my eyes so that I can enjoy the signs of spring and process the bird songs I hear, so I can identify those feathered friends. Your job is to work with my body that absolutely requires movement in order to handle stress. I must be active. Let’s work as a team.”
And then I started running again. I’ll be honest, it didn’t feel great. My hip was still tight, still painful, still annoying as hell. But as I ran, I talked some more. I pointed out to my brain that I was running, that the bogus pain hadn’t achieved the desired effect of making me focus on the pain so that I’d “forget” about the hard stuff in my life. Instead, I was going to continue running so that I could cope with the many challenges that wouldn’t just magically disappear because my hip was locked in muscle-spasm-hell. By the time I finished my run, my hip had loosened. It’s sore after spasming, but there’s no lasting damage.
My brain is being very tricky lately. Last week, I suffered tightness and pain in my neck unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (Zippy could hear the vertebrae click when I tilted my head forward). I have to admit, I got caught up in that one and didn’t immediately recognize it as mind-body stuff for a couple days. But as soon as I started talking to my brain, it loosened up. It’s still not 100% better, but I am being active and living my life. I have not given in to a bogus “injury” that isn’t rooted in any kind of reality.
If anyone’s still reading and is interested, there are forums in which people discuss all sorts of physical conditions that they’ve been able to treat as mind-body conditions. Our brains are very crafty and will go to great lengths to manufacture pain to distract us from life’s stresses, difficulties, and anger-inducing situations. Sometimes we gotta be smarter than our brains.
Yesterday was cold, gray, and icy here in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Today was sunny and warm enough to run in shorts. The last few days have been emotionally draining for a variety of reasons, and I felt that fatigue and heaviness as I ran.
However, each step felt like a gift, my cadence matching my internal chant:
I am strong and getting stronger. I am strong and getting stronger. I AM STRONG AND GETTING STRONGER.
Sing it, believe it. Live it.
I just got back from a 4-mile run around the neighborhood. Emma started with me and then bailed at about 3/4 of a mile, possibly due to it being only 27 degrees. But it all worked out because as I dropped her off at home, I had the sense to put on my mask. Suddenly, it felt quite pleasant out there.
And when a bunny ran in front of me, I grinned and remembered that it’s Bunny Monday!
I’m sorry I don’t have a bunny photo to share, but here I am at home again, reenacting my Bunny Monday grin.
Emma and I walk the neighborhood every day. Some of those days, Zippy joins us. Other days, it’s just Emma and me. Today it was just the two of us and I optimistically dressed for a run in case Emma was feeling energetic.
Emma was not feeling energetic. Emma was too busy missing Zippy. She kept turning to see if he was behind us. About three minutes into the walk, she dug in and refused to budge. I said, “Fine,” and headed for home. Emma RAN the whole way there. I put her inside and went out for my own run.
Today wasn’t an isolated incident. However, in the past I’ve coaxed her along. Not anymore. From now on, if Emma is too busy missing Zippy to keep moving forward, I’ll immediately take her back home and then go for a run by myself. That short-legged dog cramps my style, anyway.
Every creature is better alive than dead,
men and moose and pine trees,
and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Over the past weekend, we were in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. My two sons, Wildebeest and Zebu, got into a lively debate over running ability and were finally coerced by those sick of listening to that debate into running a short race. While their uncle got ready at the finish line with his camera to capture their final steps, their father (Zippy) lined them up at the starting line. But just before Zippy shot the proverbial starter’s pistol, he saw a tiny creature on the race course:
After moving the Horned Lizard to safety, the race commenced.
(NOTE: Wildebeest won by a slim margin, pulling a quad muscle in the process. The two agreed to switch “lanes” and run it again, and that time Zebu won by a whole bunch. I’m guessing the Horned Lizard is as happy as the rest of us that the two of them have, at least temporarily, moved beyond that whole running debate.)
I’m also thankful I had the trails 100% to myself as I ran, never seeing another human during those 35 minutes, not once, not even off in the distance.
I am thankful for the company of the 80 million grasshoppers, the occasional butterfly, the what-I-hope-was-a-hummingbird-and-not-an-enormous-insect buzzing in my ear, the one bunny that allowed me a glimpse before disappearing into the rabbit brush, the sunshine, and the unidentified bird with the black tail.
I’m thankful for the strength in my legs, the power in my lungs, and the lack of ego that allowed me to walk when I felt like it.
Finally, I’m thankful that the rain didn’t fall until I was already home.
I’m working on a synopsis for my work-in-progress and, as anyone who has ever written one can attest, it’s not a pretty process. This time around I’m writing a synopsis before writing the novel which means I’m not locked into anything.
NOT LOCKED INTO ANYTHING = EVERYTHING IS A POSSIBILITY
Or another way to describe it: SQUIRREL BRAIN FREE-FOR-ALL
My ADD tendencies are having a blast-y as I try to reconcile my rough outline with all the brand new shiny ideas firing in my brain.
ZIP ZAP ZOOP.
However, I did make progress today. And when I’d had enough of ye olde synopsis, I put Emma on her leash and we went for a run on the trails.
Nothing clears the squirrel from one’s brain like a run over uneven terrain.
I went out on the trails with Emma today. It was sunny and warm (probably about 80 degrees), there was substantial elevation gain, and we ran when we could.
Another pertinent fact? I didn’t bring water.
When we got off the trail and back on the street, we’d gone about 2.75 miles and Emma’s tongue was hanging out. We walked about 150 yards and then hit a patch of shade. She flopped onto her belly, legs splayed behind her, and panted. I let her stay down there while I stretched, and then got her going again. Several patches of shade later, she did the same thing. Belly flopped.
So I picked her up and carried her.
We passed some guy who asked, “Isn’t she supposed to be walking?” Nope. It was totally my bad. I overexerted my short-legged dog in the heat AND neglected to bring water. Two belly flops from her meant the rest of the way home was on me.
She’s still a bit tuckered, though. While she rested, I dug my water pack out of the closet to use on our next outing.
This is Zippy’s indoor weather station. As you can see, it’s sunny and 65 degrees outside. Granted, the outdoor thermometer is in direct sunlight right now so it’s really only 65 degrees against the bricks on the south side of the house. But still. Sixty-five degrees in January!
I’m going out for a run around the neighborhood and am looking forward to cruising past the snow piles lingering from last weekend’s storm.
Gotta love Colorado and its split-weather-personality.
Last week I was in Florida and while there, I went running for the first time in a month. As a result of all those weeks off, I ran slower than usual.
When I hit the 3-mile mark, I stopped running and began my cool-down walk. Almost immediately my brain started beating me up: you’re used to running at elevation and this was running at sea level! You’re used to running up and down hills, and this was running on mostly flat! You’re slow, slow slow. Old, old, old. Sad, sad, sad.
As I walked on the path through the woods, I regretted the health issues that had prevented me running. I regretted losing the fitness level I’d worked hard to achieve. I regretted my loss of muscle, stamina, and lung power.
I admit to feeling a wee bit defeated.
Then there was a WHOOSH and SQUAWK as something dropped from the tree above and landed next to my feet: Two woodpeckers, one on the back of the other, briefly wrestled on the path before separating and flying off to different trees.
And just like that, my mood lifted. I realized I was going to be all right. I knew I’d regain my strength, just as I knew that it was a gift to be able to up and run three miles after time off. How could I not know?! I’d just witnessed the miracle of wrestling woodpeckers!!!
I’m grateful I could see past the pity party to read it.