Run, run, run away…

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I’ve finally managed to get a bit of a running practice/groove going on here. It has been 10 years since I ran a marathon—  (it appears that I am still wearing the same running shoes!) and although I have only ever run the one (there were a few half-marathons in the year or two before and after ‘the one’) despite wanting to, because of a myriad of reasons (moving to a city that is a frozen tundra for 6 months of the year, tearing a hamstring in a supermarket fall, starting and trying to finish a PhD etc… etc…)  I have not been able to get back to running regularly, never mind train for a marathon.

Before I go on, let me just make this clear;  ‘running’ for me is a very broad term– I define it here, for the purpose of this blog post as; “sufficiently moving my body in such a way that may resemble shuffling or walking, yet which results in my face turning beet-red and me breaking a sweat.”

I have been using a “>Couch to 5K app – Every morning  a disembodied voice greets me at 5:15 am with a cheerful (no, make that creepy) “Hey awesome runner!” and then, throughout the next 35 minutes instructs me when to walk or run and adds further peppy comments like “Great! You’re doing it!” (No sh*t-Sherlock – you think I’d be listening to you if I wasn’t out here plodding along the deserted streets at dawn?!) I tolerate her banter only because it keeps me honest. I’m good at following instructions and I fear that if I was left to my own devices I’d give up and walk more than, run.

I have to say, I am really, really happy to back at it. Over the winter I was desperately trying to find an exercise regime that made me feel everything that running does for me, energized, raring to go and mentally clear. But, despite sticking to a gym-based routine that included time on the elliptical machine and weights it always felt like a chore. I have been faithful to my daily home yoga practice (inspired very much by the book Yoga at Home that I return to again and again) but desperately knew I needed more.  And, I have to admit being outside, after a looooong hard winter in which I was I was sick a lot… colds, hacking-persistent coughs, fevers and even a pneumonia diagnosis at one point. I am just so happy to be outdoors. Plodding along.

Early morning is my absolute favourite time. I love the nearly deserted streets. I nod to the few other runners I encounter on my way (and pick up my pace to save face when they come into view) and feel total respect for all those on the first bus of the morning (already standing room only). I keep only one ear bud in so I can hear my creepy-disembodied running coach chirp her commands and inspirational catchphrases (“You’re almost there! Keep going!”) But my other ear is tuned to the morning birdsong — for me, the best kind of inspirational catchphrases.

Besides the beet-red face and sweat, running both clears my mind and gets the ideas flowing in a way that nothing else seems to be able for me. Most mornings, part ways into my run, I am fumbling to record a voice memo on my phone (temporarily silencing Suzy Slogan the running coach) while mid-stride because I have an idea for a artistic project, or (on the best days) a few words come together that help bridge something I have been mentally sweating over in my PhD thesis revisions. Sometimes I try and make it home and go straight for my notebook when I walk in the door to scribble down some notes that may or may not be indecipherable by noon, but, never mind- I am already in slightly giddy from the feeling that the creative juices are flowing all before 6am.

Some mornings, along my route I look for ‘signs’- clues, or prompts that may get me going… thinking beyond my research and my own little mental bubble.

I have been running past this car ever since I started back running six weeks or so ago. Each day I would try to come up with different signs it offered me. Abandoned car, (vehicle, machinery, transportation) multiple parking tickets (violations, fines…) AND (it’s hard to see in the photo) but hanging from the rear view mirror (LOOKING BEHIND? BACK?) is a dream catcher (!) I took the photo a week ago– just because it was inspiring so many ideas. But, today the car was gone.

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So, I will continue my early morning shuffles. Searching for more clues.

Cha-Cha-Cha

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There was one of those Facebook posts going around not too long ago that said something like this; “Optimist: Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.” (I later found out the quote is attributed to author Robert Brault) And at the time I took it in with a grain of salt as I do any words of wisdom imparted on social media- but I reminded myself of those words last week as I lay in a crumpled heap on the floor of my yoga class, whispering to the teacher “I’m OK!” after hearing something go “pop” in the general area of my left hip and bullock and my leg just kind of giving out. I lay there trying to get myself together with tears of self pity running down my face- not so much for the pain but because I was immediately mad for this happening and at myself for having the thought “Man, I am on an exercise toll!” just before the class started.
I basically spent the last week feeling poopy. Limping, when I tried to walk but in more pain when I was sitting to long. So really, pretty useless.
I have been feeling frustrated, bummed out, irritated and restless, and none of it has felt like a cha-cha.
Things began to change when I read this story a
bout Harriet Thompson, the 92 year old American woman who just ran her sixteenth marathon and broke the world’s record for being the oldest woman to do so. I am a bit obsessed with stories about awesome old women, I am constantly on the look out for stories like Harriette’s and I find myself studying them in the hopes of being able to figure out what their secrets are for being so fabulous for so long! The thing that pretty much rings true with all the women I have read about is an optimistic outlook, that and perseverance. And with that revelation I cued the band to play a cha-cha and lead myself to the dance floor.
I finally went to see an osteopath today (for the first time) and I am feeling considerably better already. I won’t be running today, and maybe not even tomorrow, but I am pretty determined to be running when I am 92.

Shut Up and Run

I finally got out for a run. I have been here, in Birmingham UK (3000+ miles from home) for 5 days now and after a whole lot of pep- talking (me to myself) I did it and it was glorious. I had been thinking about getting out there A LOT- but was having all the regular anxiety I often have in new situations, and have been talking myself out of it. You would think that at my age (48) and with the kind of experience I have in travelling (7 trips to Europe alone in the last 2 years) I would be pretty laissez faire when it comes to making myself at home in a new city and surroundings- but in fact, I have an awful time with really settling in. Part of it is the loneliness/homesickness/nostalgia that I wrote about yesterday and part of it, I think, is just my totally awkward social nature. Yes, me, who as a teacher, performer, and Mother of six has to deal with other humans almost constantly, actually  has a medium to high level of anxiety of dealing with other people and in particular strangers. But even more importantly, I hate looking like I don’t belong somewhere. This is why I love David Sedaris so much because he says so many things, about feeling awkward, especially in foreign cities, that I feel. He did a great interview NPR’s This American Life on his experiences in Paris that I relate to so well.

So! In the case of me procrastinating going out for a run, it was really nothing to do with me just being lazy and everything to do with feeling discombobulated in a new city, For example, because I am staying right in the city centre, I was nervous about running aimlessly through the busy streets and having to worry about traffic (I CANNOT get used to the whole cars on the wrong side of the road here and literally have to speak out loud to myself every time I cross the road saying “look the opposite way!”). So I did what any good PhD student would do and I researched it. I studied maps and then went for a test “walk” yesterday.

And this morning I went for it and headed out. (I carefully chose this morning as it is a bank holiday here and hardly any traffic). And it was, as I said glorious. In less than 10 minutes I was on the Birmingham Canals. And it was absolutely gorgeous in all the  most cliché ways. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and after I finished chastising myself for being so utterly ridiculous in buying into my silly anxieties,  I plodded along in the most satisfied way.

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I Fly Like Paper, Get High Like Planes…

I’m not sure why I feel compelled to start writing here again.
Well, I know where the “impulse” came from…
M.I.A’s Paper Planes. On my run today, it came on- blasting through my headphones. Yes, headphones. I used to be a purist and NEVER run with music, but now I need all the help I can get.
But when the first chords of the song pumped through my earbuds today I was instantly transported to the side of some weird back road out on the UBC Endowment Lands behind St. Georges- on one of my long (18 miles maybe?) runs… training for “the” marathon… how many years ago? 5? 6?
I wasn’t listening to any music at the time, but rather I repeated it out loud, as to distract myself from my almost overwhelming desire to stop running.

The song plods along;

I fly like paper, get high like planes
If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
If you come around here, I make ’em all day
I get one down in a second if you wait…

Like how I “run” although I think plod is a better name for what I do.

I am “plodding” again.
I have, over the last few years tried to get back in a plodding groove.
It is hard here- the winter is reeeeeeeeeally long. And I tried, I can’t run in -20. I do a bit of treadmill. I have IT Band issues that won’t seem to go away. I have six children, a husband, a job and PhD in progress… all things that I constantly use as excuses as why I am not out there
But I think about running, er, plodding all the time.
I obsess over stories like this one; about old ladies running Boston.
So I am back at it. And M.I.A made it a little easier today.

Sometimes I think sitting on trains
Every stop I get to I’m clocking that game
Everyone’s a winner, we’re making our fame
Bona fide hustler making my name

The Slump

It’s official, I’m calling it, I am in a running slump… although it’s unclear as to whether I ever really hit my stride or got into any real groove after the marathon (2 months ago now- ooooo I’d hadn’t really thought about it being 2 months- a long time non?) I have just not been able to find my mojo, for lack of a better term. There have been many circumstances contributing to this lack of running enthusiasm and quite frankly I have felt quite motivated mentally much of the time but have just had so physical issues and family issues standing in my way. Having said that, I’ve always kind of made it my policy not to put the blame on anything except myself when it come to getting things  done. I find taking full responsibility and “owning” my responsibilities (whether they be to others or to myself) is the only way to get things done. Set some goals, and reach them- how you get there is your own business but it has to get done or what’s the point in setting a goal?

So I won’t whine about these antibiotics that are just wiping me of my energy, this unexplained knot in my lower back, these children that are home for summer vacation and need constant supervision/entertaining or my big toe which is bandaged and throbbing and which I can’t put any weight on after I stepped on a %&*@$ nail sticking out of the floor last night, because I don’t believe in excuses or whining, I believe in getting the job done.

So there.

En Vacances

It’s here- summer officially starts for me today. School is done. Hip Hip Hooray. I’m usually enthusiastic about the whole thing for about 4 weeks- the last 4 weeks I spend dreaming of schedules and new school supplies (who doesn’t loooooove new school supplies?!) But for today I am happy not to be making lunches at 5:30 am.

Our plan was to leave on a camping trip today- I love camping, the whole family does but the ol’man hurt his back putting up new beams in our house and we had to figure something else out because sleeping on the ground wasn’t really an option for him right now, so, instead of camping we are staying at a… resort! Whoo-hoo! I do like camping but I DO like staying in nice hotels too!

We are going to Harrison Hot Springs. We actually had a free night given to us by the manager last year as the last time we attempted to stay there, there also happened to be a huge Molson Canadian Party booked into the hotel- we hadn’t even checked in when bus loads of 20 something year old’s starting pouring in and it was clear that they were arriving four sheets to the wind- we couldn’t imagine it getting any quieter- in fact, it looked like trouble. Ourselves and every other family lined up for our refunds which they graciously gave us as well as gift certificates for a return visit. 

I have to say, trying to book a hotel room is one of those times when I realize that we have a freakishly large family. It’s not until I try to book on line and it won’t let me because we are a “special -sized party” and I have to talk to someone, as in a real person to arrange 2 adjoining rooms- that I remember we are not average. Far from it. But hey, who wants to be average?!

I’m looking forward to just hanging out with the family. We don’t really get to do that much anymore- somehow when there are teenagers in the house, even though I’m quite strict about everybody being home for dinner 90% of the time someone is always rushing off somewhere. On vacation there will be no where to rush to.

Of course I’m packing my running shoes and hope to get a run or two in around the lake.

We’re on vacation baby.

Lawn Karama

I took a different route on my run yesterday- I had to walk #3 to his soccer game so I decided to just continue on from there and check out a little pocket of my neighbourhood that I don’t often see- about 10 minutes in I pass by a house with a push mower out front with a note attached to it reading “Free, please take me and use me”- 

We have just “fixed” our sad looking lawn and have cut it only once with a weedwacker- in fact we went looking for a lawnmower but decided that we would have to wait until the next pay cheque to get one considering there was nothing less than $200- and here was one in excellent condition for FREE!

I am a frequent peruser of Craigslist- I have bought things and sold things on it and I have a huge problem with people selling there crap for more than it’s worth. It is my belief that anytime you use Craigslist it is to find a bargin or to be trying to get rid of something or pass it on to someonbe who needs it- and to do it quickly. The few times I have sold things they have gone in a couple of hours and it felt good to get rid of it.  I have also posted things for free with the same results- gone fast to someone who really wanted/nedded it.

 

So I was thinking there was some really great Karma going on with my pushmower find. Thank you to whoever lives on East 16th bettween Prince Edward and Sophia. I almost pushed it home but thought that might look weird (who cares, right?) so I “sprinted” home jumped in the van and worried that it would be gone when I got there- but it wasn’t.

Came home, mowed the lawn.

I should vary my route more often.