There’s just something peaceful about morning running. Maybe it’s the quiet of the day or the darkness that hasn’t quite conceded to the bright glow of the majestic day ahead. There are not many cars around nor other runners where I am or even people walking dogs. It’s just quiet almost to the point that I can hear my thoughts out loud. I love that first breath in of fresh crisp air that purges my lungs of night air and fills my soul with brightness. It calls me to it, envelops me and makes me its own for 30 minutes of bliss. I can see the glow of a dawning day in the windows of my neighbors and see those who have started their day. I can smell those ambitious enough to cook something that appeals to my palette as I run on an empty stomach thinking about the pancakes and eggs I’ll make when I return. As dawn lights my way, revealing my form I realize this is the best run that I’ve had in many days. I enjoyed it a lot and am happy I didn’t wait until tonight to go. When I run in the morning I have no worries, no problems, no distractions. My phone isn’t ringing, I’m not tied to the internet and I’m not trying to organize anything. It’s just me, in the dark blending in with what remains of the night. Free as a bird and not weighted down by life at this very moment.
Today as I make my way through my neighborhood wondering who knows I’m passing by, my mind is on my race on Sunday. I’m running The Falmouth Road Race and thinking about how the race will go and whether it will be my race. It may not be. Because of the time of the month it may have to just be fun. I’m not expecting it to be a stellar race because I just don’t do well a few days before I get my period. 2-4 days prior, my legs are heavy, it’s hard for me to breathe and it’s just a struggle. Even if it’s a struggle, I’d like to beat last years 1:18. I’m much stronger this year in my core than last year which will be helpful. Nonetheless, if I go into it not expecting too much and not trying to be faster than last year I think it will be fine. Slow it down and I’ll have more fun. My friend who runs this race with me might like company for the entire 7 miles rather than being dumped at the starting line like I usually do. I well know how not fun running alone is so that might be the way to go I think. It’s all about the fun and the experience.
I have had a much more aggressive workout routine now for 10 months. Except for this week that seems like a struggle to get any double sessions in but I’ll just roll with it because Sunday is The Falmouth Road Race and I don’t need to have a exercise injury now simply because I am only giving half effort. Anyway, compared to a year ago, I bike, I run, I do strength training too. In my strength training, I have about 15-20 exercises that I rotate between when I work out, not all of which get done every time. It’s good to switch it up so your body doesn’t ever really plateau. I know continuing with the same exercises is still good but for fat burning it is not. I try to switch it up without building so I don’t use heavy weights or too many reps, just heavy enough to be some work without exhausting me. A few days ago I randomly added a few rounds of boxing to the Tabata workout that I was doing and today I can feel it in my back and chest! My abs have that “Please don’t cough” pleading going on which makes me laugh so hard…but not because it hurts, in a good way. It feels great to be sore because I know I am making improvements which get harder and harder to make the older I get. AAhhh the joys of aging! Next up on my radar is trying something from Les Mills called Body Combat which looks like kick boxing which I suck at but really want to try out! Just gotta keep switching it up!
Today’s blog isn’t about running really as much as it is about a runners mentality and how we sort of avoid judging each other or getting wonked out talking with complete strangers. It’s about a double standard whereby runners have a wide berth to just be who we are while the rest of the world stands in our very critical judgement.
Runners are super friendly for the most part I find. They smile, they help you finish races if you are struggling …or LOST like I was one time and they almost always greet you with good morning or a hello or a supportive “you got this”. I myself say hello to nearly every runner, biker, dog walker that I see on the road. Not everyone is responsive but that’s ok. I don’t find anything weird with talking to a running stranger anywhere or any time.
Today I had an experience as I put together my @cumberlandfarms iced coffee, which has stolen my business from the @HoneyDew_Donuts and @DunkinDonuts crooks who think asking $3.68 for a mostly ice, iced coffee is ok. It’s not but I’m no longer your customer so whatever!
Anyway, I was at the counter mixing my flavor into my coffee and went looking for a lid. I didn’t see one in front of me (couldn’t have looked hard!) so I had to encroach upon the space of this nice girl making her own iced coffee to find a lid in front of her. As I leaned back to put the lid on my treat and realized that I had actually had 3 stacks of lids right in front of me. How did I miss that? I don’t know but moving on…. She said something that sort of eluded to the fact that she may have missed the stacks too or maybe something insinuating that CF didn’t put them in plain sight even though they were. Then came the part that made me feel really wonky. This sweet young bleach blond girl with the tiny little nose ring, no make up and a cute outfit randomly says to me “you look pretty today”. I’m now in the Twilight Zone. She looks at my sundress and says “I like flowers”. I say thank you, she tells me to enjoy my day and I return the sentiment to her. I pay for my coffee and gas and head out to my truck. That’s all there was to it. She was sweet and lovely and simply nice and I got all weirded out by it like she was hitting on me or something. I truly felt out of place and in a rare moment, didn’t know what the hell to say to her. WTF! Why is it that I’m totally comfortable talking about nothing to any running stranger yet a very nice person takes a moment out of her day to try and minimalize my irritation at myself for not finding what I wanted and I’m Wonked out? I’m not weirded out often in situations like that but maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting that conversation to go beyond “Excuse me” and “no problem”. “You look pretty” feels like something I’ve stereotyped coming from a close friend, daughter, mother, co-worker or family member. Maybe we just don’t do things like that enough which is probably what is wrong with this stupid world anyway! So, even though I do not know who she was, I want to thank the nice young girl in Cumberland Farms in Bridgewater MA who was simply as nice as nice could be to me. You made my day and made me want to try to be nicer to some stranger some day soon. Maybe my head is too far stuck up my running butt and I’m only super accepting of runners and critical of the rest of the world. I should watch that from now on don’t you think?
I woke up today and wondered where the truck was that ran me over was. The only thing I did yesterday was run. I ran 3 miles after work, nothing new or difficult or unusual for me. It wasn’t fast or slow, just average for me. Today it felt like I did something out of the ordinary, enough so that I laid in bed wondering if I really wanted to go work out. I didn’t just wonder if I should run, I wondered if I should even work out. At first I thought I would go work out but if I do Tabata I like to have at least an hour in which to spend working all my junk out. So I kicked my ass into my running clothes and when I was finished getting my husband ready for work and making his breakfast I headed out. I decided to run a harder route but one that I’ve run before. It started with a big ass hill which always makes you feel awesome once you crest the top of it. As expected, mile 1 was slow with the typical “why are you doing this” and “you’re super slow, just go home” conversations in my head. The Ukrainian pressed on to finish and as it always does my running knocked the shit out of the tired feeling that was taking over just 30 minutes earlier. Now right now I’m suffering from the post lunch food coma married with the sitting in the sun for :45 minutes slump which has nothing to do with my slow starting morning. I always feel better when I go for a run when I’m tired in the morning. Not every run is great or even good for that matter but every run that happens when your just tired always ends up with me being happy that I went and much more awake. I’ve never been sorry that I’ve gone for a run tired because I feel not only stronger but better and healthy and good. The mental happiness from running is ridiculously addictive and makes me want to do more following every time I buckle down and just get it done. If you don’t love it, don’t do it but do find something that you do love and do that. Strive to be as healthy as you can and as strong as you can every day.
On Saturday I did my long run. It was 8 miles for some undetermined reason that popped in my head. I have a 7 mile race in two weeks so if I was truly “in training” mode I would have just run 5 but I wanted to keep my miles up for long runs above 7. Maybe it’s random or maybe I’m stepping into a better, more experienced runner. I’m going with the first answer because well, you’re always hardest on yourself. So I invited my wingman to ride while I ran and he agreed. I like it when he goes because he talks to me, encourages me, holds my water and keys and food should I need any or all of those things. We run 4 and with every mile I feel better.
Mile 1 for me always feels like a challenge as I prime my joints and warm up into the pace I’ll hold onto most of the run. At 4 we decided to hit the local convenience store for more fluids. Wingman can drink all my hydration in an innocent gulp and we were a little low because of it. So at four miles he told me to wait while he biked the less than quarter mile to get our replenishment. I walked that way to keep moving and then we walked back to our stopping point. We fueled and then set off but no sooner had we embarked on our return journey it began raining. At first it was light rain then heavier and by the time we were a mile into the 4 mile return trip, it was down-pouring on us. I am accustomed to running in the rain as I’ve done it many times and in many different types of rain from Forest Gump “big ol’ fat rain” to driving rain to torrential downpours. I in fact like rain running because it makes me feel strong and tough and cool actually…cool like temperature cool but the other kind as well. As we moved along my wingman started off complaining about being wet and his pants and underwear getting wet and water in his eyes. Not long into the rain, which didn’t continue in the downpour way for long, he began to realize that it was kind of fun getting wet. When did kids forget the fun in getting wet? Remember jumping in puddles and standing with your face to the sky and your tongue hanging out catching rain drops? I do. Every time it rains and I get caught in it, it makes me smile. James came round and was laughing and woo-hooing all the way home and it made me laugh inside to see him having a good time with his soggy pants and shoes. He even took off his shirt that was weighing him down and said that we should do this more often…. Yes Buddy we should. We all should! There’s just something peaceful about being in the rain that if you can get your mind there, is calming and happy and joyous especially when shared with someone.
So there are things along this journey to being fitter that are kind of like milestones for me. One is pulling on clothes that I like in a size that makes me smile. Another is when your friends or co-workers tell you that you look good which is always nice. One of my favorite all time motivational smile-infusing happiness-creating things that have happened to me is when my kids tell me nice things without trying to make me feel good. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I know that I look good. Good compared to my old self and the healthiest that I’ve ever been. Good is relative I realize because I understand that I am not shaped like Barbie or the tall and skinnies of the world and that is just fine with me. I am happy with the 161 average weight that I seem to hover over these days because I’m muscular and in fact also shorter at 5′ 4″ tall. This means that I tend to grow out instead of up or evenly distributing my ever fluctuating weight because that’s the law of physics. I will never be Jessica Rabbit or have Heidi Klum’s legs sadly. I’m me and I know my boundaries and I’m fine with them. My job is managing all of that within the confines of the fitness routine I put in and keeping it all in check to stay between 150-165 roughly. I am always striving to get to the bottom of that range but truthfully I don’t care if I never see the big one-five-oh again. I work out and I work out pretty regularly, by choice and sometimes twice a day. It’s a little bit of an addiction and definitely a habit for sure. Something I’m just always working on like Mr. Holland’s Opus, just not ever done. I want to live to the crazy age of 96 so this is a good path to help me get there.
Now nothing and I mean nothing means more to me in this world than my kids. It is super important that they are proud of me and want to be with me and talk to me and hug me and hopefully always like my kisses! I hope they always tell me about their days be it good or crappy. I would die if I couldn’t be with and around them. They are just awesome! So, in the flow of two conversations recently, one with each son (19 and 17 respectively), we were discussing super skinny something or other and I said to one son that if whatever the statement were, was true I’d be super skinny. His answer melted me to pause my thought and compose my fast melting self. He said “You are super skinny Mom.” and he kept moving on with his thoughts about whatever it was that we were talking about. He wasn’t looking for accolades or a hug or even a response. It was his honest opinion. PAUSE: my son thinks I’m super skinny! woo hoo! On another day not long thereafter I was talking to the other son about something weight related (not necessarily mine) and whatever I said it prompted him to say “well it’s harder to get any smaller than you Mom, you work out all the time.” and he too proceeded to add to the conversation as if he had just said “the sky is blue”.
There it was again from a different source. From the one who wouldn’t sugar coat something to make you feel good (that’s his father in him). They both simply had said what they believed to be true which was like getting the best race bling ever! For those of you who do not know I am a medal whore. I Race for the prize because why should I not be rewarded for running for 2+ hours right? As I reflected on these thoughts that my sons had about me, it occurred to me that I have reached a personal milestone in my healthy lifestyle endeavor in this life. I have achieved the admiration of my kids who are proud of me for all this crazy hard work that I do. It’s become so much a part of who I now am that they don’t question it as being Mom’s new workout habit but more like part of what their Mom does. Some mom’s garden (I do that too) and some Moms do crafts and some Moms drive trucks. My kid’s Mom cooks great meals, sings new words to old songs, runs in the rain, would do anything for her kids to be happy and she also does fitness and that’s cool to them. I couldn’t have gotten two better compliments in the world than those two matter of fact statements made in passing by my sons.
Well, that was longer than expected but sometimes they are. Remember that there are those moments that tell you that you’ve arrived that you have to cherish and lock away for the days where you feel like you aren’t doing anything right. They are the moments that motivate us and push us to strive for more every day.
Why would someone throw away a racing finishers medal? I’m really asking a question here because it perplexes me about why someone would run a race and then toss their prize! This one, perhaps just for me, was challenging with what felt like an all ascent first half in the heat and humidity. I felt like it was tough and around mile 8 I felt like quitting. I find around mile 7 or 8 in most half marathons that I start getting tired and somewhere around 10-11 I’m looking forward to the finish. Now, this race was not my best time. I came in at 2:17:43 and my best half was completed in 1:57 and change. Given the weather and the swelling in my legs from the get go, it was a respectable time. I’m not competing against anyone so it’s just a matter of remembering the situation. Anyway, it seemed like the longest race ever and I was happy to finish. Never happier to stop for good and to hold what I feel is an achievement medal. I struggled and feel like I earned it. So on my way home I got behind someone stopped at the exit who was throwing away what I thought was trash. Turns out it was his medal. I saw him pick the bib out of the trash and keep that which is weird. Anyway as they drove off a guy walking next to that full trash with the medal on top picked it up and shrugged as if to say “what the hell are you doing guy!”. This is the same thing I was thinking and if fact I said to that guy who put it back in the trash, you should keep it for yourself! Why do people do these things? I’ll never know but I feel like if they ran out of medals, that guy ought to be held accountable for wasting one. Gheesh! Anyway, I’m very proud of mine and I’m keeping it. It is for this reason that I just don’t understand why someone would throw it away. Even if it’s your worst race you ever ran, you still earned it! It kind of made me mad to see that but Se La Vie guy! This medal was a honking medal not some cheapo flimsy gold painted plastic thing. LOOK AT IT!!! It was heavy and huge! Whatever! I’m keeping mine and I hope you regret throwing yours away dude. I can’t imagine why or what made you do it or what it takes for you to keep one for that matter. Who cares! I have mine and that’s all that matters.