Archive for the ‘places’ Category

the best kind of runner’s high

In places, run reports, running, storytelling on February 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm

As single working mothers go, I am not exactly one of those light-the-world-on-fire, never-fazed superwomen.


today’s view

I feel like an overwhelmed, not-so-coordinated juggler a fair amount of the time. But the joy of my daughter and my side pursuits (writing for myself and not my clients) usually balance out the daily frenzy.

But in the past few weeks, I’ve been overstretched, overstressed and confidence-shaken by many disparate Big Life things banging into each other all at once. Tapped out.

This weekend, I had my first down time and solo time in a few weeks, and no matter how many angles I played in giving myself pep talks, I couldn’t shake that ‘glass half empty’ state where every small disappointment or glitch in the day starts to feel like a personal dig from no less than the universe.

Even on my most overwhelmed days, I’m usually pretty good at finding an upbeat spot to land on. I learned resilience from watching my unfailingly positive and patient mom deal gracefully with one hard time after another while I was growing up, and it always rattles me when my resilience doesn’t rescue me from myself.

The clouds and cold rolled away midday today, and though my gray mood hadn’t lifted, I was determined to take advantage of the warmth and sun and go to my favorite running spot in the woods. My sad-sack conversation with myself went something like this:

“You know you don’t really feel like going. What you really need to do is stay home and work. … BUT if you don’t go and exercise your underused, over-sugared, cholesterol-collecting 49-year-old body, then you’ll really hate yourself.”

So I drove the 20 minutes to the state park, listening to Tina Fey reading ‘BossyPants;’ even Tina’s hilarious, self-deprecating stories of youthful screw-ups and disappointments hadn’t entertained me out of my funk.

After sitting in the car and stalling for a few minutes, I reluctantly turned Tina off and headed up my trail, more dogged than inspired.

I haven’t run very  much in recent months, and have been easing back in, doing run-walk intervals and going no more than 2.5 miles. Today, the idea of distance appealed to me and I decided I would take my time and run out to a tiny cemetery plot a couple of miles farther than I’d been going lately.

So I ran hard, then walked, and did that over and over again, soaking up, as I always do, the woods and the play of the sunlight and blue sky in the narrow spaces between the trees.

I made it to the cemetery and turned around to head back. On the final stretch, which can sometimes seem to have tripled in distance, I never once thought, ‘I’m  done … where’s the END?’

You have had to slog through a lot of backstory, and I appreciate that, so I’ll keep the punch line quick:

When I landed back at my “Blue Streak,” the name my daughter and I gave our car one summer, I felt like a different person.

150 percent lighter.

The glass was  half full again…. just like that.

My running intervals are not very speedy, so I doubt what I was feeling was a true, chemical-blow out runner’s high.

But whatever it was that my run delivered today was powerful tonic — and unlike anything I’ve experienced before. All these hours later, the lightness is still with me;  I have a newfound respect for what putting the heart and body through its paces can do to recalibrate the brain.

And so I’m here tonight to put my thanks on ‘paper’ — thanks to the woods and the sunlight … the legs and lungs … for restoring me to more than half-full.


My finish line

In places, run reports, running on June 27, 2012 at 1:25 am

A few weeks back, one of the running gear companies invited runners to post photos of their ‘finish lines’ – this could mean literal race finish lines or the finish lines you come back to time and again in day-to-day running.

This is mine – the final stretch just beyond the gate at my state park trailhead … the last bit of ground I cover before reaching my ‘Blue Streak’ (the name my child and I gave our car two summers ago).

I feel an over-the-top sense of accomplishment when I approach that finish line; I’m not a person who lives to run, so it’s an effort to keep going out there and huffing through that heat and humidity.

It feels like a small miracle every time I do it.

And by the time I cross that line, layers of stress have peeled away, evaporating in those beautiful woods.

All in all, it’s hard to imagine a race finish line ever bringing me greater satisfaction than this one.

When the weakest link becomes the strongest.

In places, running on May 7, 2012 at 1:50 am

I write about my threesome of favorite solo pursuits here, but in reality, Read/Write/Run  is an uneven triangle. Of the three, I’ve always known that running would be the weakest part; after all, I’ve been reading and writing as long as I can remember.

Running is still new and slow and hard.

But this afternoon, as I slogged away on a humid run, it occurred to me out of the blue that in some very important ways, running is now propping up the other two parts of the troika, especially the writing.


As it got later and later this afternoon, and I continued to put off my run, I began my litany of usual rationalizations for blowing it off. First and foremost, I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open; a run seemed impossible.

But I was already dressed to run, and my new, surprisingly powerful runner voice jumped into the procrastination/rationalization conversation going on in my head.

First, the voice reminded me that I would feel terrible if I ditched my plans, and how that disappointment in myself would cloud the rest of the day, not to mention tomorrow (I won’t have any time for running tomorrow, so today was the only shot before Tuesday).

Then it pointed out that I needed the run to clear my head and shake off a bad mood.

Finally, it insisted that the pleasure I would get from being in the woods would overcome the fatigue I was feeling. I think it also called me a wuss before all was said and done.

It worked. Even in my nearly narcoleptic state, when I wanted very badly to stay in the air-conditioning and take a nap, I made myself climb in the car and drive the 15-20 minutes out of town, onto the interstate and eventually down a dusty gravel road to the trailhead.


In the year and a half since I began running, I’ve made a lot of reluctant decisions to go and run when I really didn’t feel like it.  This afternoon’s call to go running anyway seems small in the grand scheme of things, but today, that small decision was a sign of a sea change in me. A huge shift in my non-athletic, I’m-not-one-of-those-people way of thinking about myself in relation to running – or any other physical challenge.

Going to all of that trouble and drive time to go sweat and huff and puff is something I never thought I would be capable of when a nap was the alternative.

What that brings to the rest of my life – especially to the writing projects that are taking me into new territory – is the knowledge that I am capable of big change, even at 47, when habits and sense of self are so ingrained. That knowledge, I realized today, creates confidence that regularly spills over into other parts of my life.

So even though I run slowly, and I stop to catch my breath (and I question my sanity on 95-degree days), the running leg of the triangle is now powering the rest of it in ways I had never considered until today’s calming trek through the woods. (The runner voice was right about that and all the rest … except for the ‘wuss’ part.)

Spring has sprung on my running trail

In #races, places, run reports, running on April 14, 2012 at 12:32 am

Spring is springing along my running trail

After barely running in two weeks, it felt good to get back out on the trail on such a beautiful day.

I’ve been lax about updates to my reading/writing/running story of late, but not for lack of running milestones. In preparing for the 10K Cooper River Bridge Run (March 31st), twice, I ran my longest distance ever (7 miles), and my knees survived that distance (I only limped for an hour or two). For me, covering 7 miles may as well have been a marathon. I had to slow down for a few walking breaks along the way (especially on the hills), but I’ll take it.

I was gratified to find that I can notch up my distance (as long as I do it slowly) without paying the price with knee pain or injury. Beyond that, going 7 miles took me to an entirely new area of the trail where I run, and it was beautiful.

I made it through the Bridge Run, too (6.2 miles). It started an hour late, I had no time for caffeine (this is a problem for an addict like me), and thanks to the delay, the sun was higher and the temperature much warmer. In the end, I was slow and my race was not too pretty (walked more than I’d hoped), but it was a beautiful morning, and I had the company of an upbeat, supportive friend (a “real” runner who is usually very fast and competitive, but hung back with me due to an injury); he was kind enough not to poke fun at my turtle-like pace.

And best of all, my 10-year-old was waiting at the finish line, as proud of me as if I had just run the New York City Marathon.

seen on the run: big, beautiful mule + big, beautiful sky.

In places, running on December 11, 2011 at 12:57 am


In places, running on November 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Went on my second run in three days just now; both were slow and included many walking intervals while I try to get back in the groove after giving my knee a break for several weeks.

Friday’s run was especially perfect — in that the day was beautiful, temperatures were cold/cool, my knees hung in there, and cerebrally/psyche-wise, it was glorious.

In my life in general at the moment, there is a vat of stress at hand that is big enough to drown in, so running through those beautiful woods is a respite I’m more grateful for than ever.

Even without outside stress, I feel intensely grateful to have reached this point in my life with good health and the ability to go out and feel my heart pumping and my legs and lungs getting stronger.

the beauty of running in the fall.

In places, running on November 7, 2011 at 6:36 am


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