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Archive for the ‘run reports’ 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.

photo

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.

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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.

#running report (a Disney moment on the trail)

In run reports, running on May 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I’ve been lax about running this week. Again.

But today I knew I had to get back to it and that my psyche desperately needed time in the woods, so I made the 20-minute trip to my  favorite trail.

As is usual lately, I was slooooow and tired, and it was HOT (that’s what I get for going at noon), but butterflies ran with me part of the way, so that was encouraging. (Really. Sounds like a Disney movie, doesn’t it? They did *not* sing, however.)

And I saw the most beautiful technicolor-green, brand-new grass that looked like the fuzz on a baby’s head…and this grass was courtesy of *nature* not the TruGreen lawn service.

So all was well in the (steamy) woods.

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.

A big day on the trail… 5.5, baby!

In run reports, running on March 5, 2012 at 1:38 am

Miles, that is.

I crossed the 5-mile barrier for the first time today and lived to tell the tale. The execution wasn’t pretty or fast – there were walking breaks aplenty – but I covered the distance, and MY KNEES HELD UP.

This is big. Even if I never ever make it 5 or 6 miles (six is my target for a race later this month) running the entire way, the fact that my knees and lungs hold up for that distance under any circumstance feels like:

a) A huge milestone after my fits-and-starts, ailing-knee-plagued training over the past year and a half.

b) A good sign for the future … maybe my knees can handle running, after all.

A few years back, my girl got a lead role in a school musical based on the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’; when she found out that the speedy Hare actually loses the race, she was TICKED. Her logical first-grade brain assumed that as the Hare, she would win, and I think first-graders like to win even more than your usual human being. But she sucked up her indignation and did a beautiful job.

The competitive side of me really, really wants to be a graceful, speedy Hare; I see them all around me, and I want to finish half marathons and marathons at impressive speeds like they do. But all indicators point to me being a perpetual Tortoise, and as in the story, my wish is for this Tortoise to win the prize that matters – being able to get outdoors and blow off 3-6 miles’ worth of steam three or four times a week, for years to come, at whatever pace keeps my knees functioning.

Cracking the 5-mile mark — and actually enjoying it – feels GOOD.

Huffing and puffing with purpose. Sort of like the Big Bad Wolf in the ‘Three Little Pigs’ … but probably more like Deepak Chopra.

In run reports, running on December 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Went out on this beautiful day to run at my favorite spot, a bridle trail in a nearby state park.

Would have done this regardless, because (thankfully) running is now part of life, and though I am tempted more and more lately to skip it, I know how unforgiving I will be if I ever let all this hard work fall by the wayside.

But today I needed to run. Without it, I was likely to melt down or implode.

I’ve been hauling around a top-heavy load of stress over run-of-the-mill life things (making a living, etc.), an unusual load of frustration about several relationships, and a load of sadness about a handful of situations I have no control over involving people I care deeply about.

So I got out on the trail in the sunny cold today, packing all of that unwieldy baggage, and tried my best to huff and puff out all of the toxic (useless) angst.

When I run stressed, I usually do what I imagine is a very Deepak Chopra-ish thing – narrating in my head each breath in and each breath out – i.e., ‘stress…OUT’ …’calm, IN.’  Confidence, IN; fear, OUT.  And so on.

I swore to myself at about mile 2.5 of 3.5 that I would park my frustration and stress at the gate, not haul it back home with me.

For most of that last mile, my brain was still churning with frustrations, anger, self-flagellation … thoughts of all the times lately when I have been a poster child for that saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s embarrassing to realize how often I end up gnashing my teeth after a situation played out EXACTLY THE WAY IT DID LAST TIME. At 47, there’s really no excuse for not getting a clue the first time around – well, except for that dense thing we call human nature.

I saw the gate around the bend in the trail, and I was still replaying every single thought I’d been hauling around for the past month. I stepped up the Deepak huffing and puffing of baggage routine, and it worked – mostly. I walked past the gate and made a deal with myself to – as best as is humanly possible – stop wasting so much time and energy on negativity and try to quit that definition-of-insanity habit.

Onward and upward.

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