On the Road Again

It’s been a while since I ran anywhere for a reason other than fire or emergency (like the man who was puking his guts up in the library… ran to get him a trash can).  I don’t actually remember the last time I just got up and went for a run, which kind of makes sense.  My running career has always been spotty.  I’ve run in a few half marathons, and then I completely stopped running for a couple of years after each.  At least I’m consistently inconsistent.

Anyway, this week marks the beginning of another running phase (I hope).  I’m two days in with a hike on a third day, so I think it counts.  What’s more, I actually woke up early to run before work this morning.  That, my friends is monumental.

This is what I felt like, running along our dirt road, super grateful that the first half of the trek is mostly downhill:

photo from the Huffington Post

photo from the Huffington Post

But inevitably, the run ends with me feeling much more like this:

photo from lifebeginsatthirtytwo.blogspot.com

photo from lifebeginsatthirtytwo.blogspot.com

Glamorous, right?  Even though I have ended both runs and the hike feeling like an out-of-shape doughnut-eating fool, I know that if I keep going out there, someday I’ll be able to run the whole way to the mailbox (0.7 miles, not just to the end of the driveway) and back the slightly uphill route without stopping or walking or wanting to die.  I might even be able to run 13.1 miles again without wanting to amputate my legs from the knee down.

So yes, what I’m looking forward to is not wanting to die while working out.  I could avoid that by not working out.  That’s my approach for about 2-3 years of out every 4.  I’m just hoping that my working out year is about to kick in.  They’re fun while they last.

New Year’s Declarations

I’m not normally one for New Year’s resolutions.  Only a very small group of people actually stick to resolutions, and I’m not in that group.  Knowing that about myself makes resolutions kind of pointless.  There are things I’d like to remember in 2011, however.

The key thing on that list is to look at the big picture.  Sometimes it’s a challenge when you’re a little minion ant to understand what’s going on outside of the ant hill.  Sometimes it’s impossible.  But there are things I can do to keep my eyes alert and my focus broad.

For one thing, I’d like to keep my reading pace up.  GoodReads says I haven’t finished a single book in the month of December.  (What?!)  That’s sort of okay though.  I wanted to read less and enjoy people more this year.  Goal achieved.  Now I just need to avoid a total lack of reading.

My dad’s mom reads until late at night almost every day.  She’s constantly learning and thinking, and even if she can’t remember which books she’s read, you can tell she’s always processing new thoughts.  I’d like to be like that.

Reading consistently keeps my mind not just moving, but moving outside of its own little problems.  When I’m not reading regularly, I tend to get stuck more in my world with dog hair tumbleweed and work issues and giant to do lists.  When I read, I remember the world that I don’t see every day–adventures and problems and solutions that would never touch my life otherwise.  I think reading is awesome, in case you couldn’t tell.

The second and third things I’d like to do are pretty similar to the first.  Getting caught up in the everyday means that I miss out on things I truly love.  In the last year, two of those things were painting and running.

Painting and running sound frivolous, I know, but keeping up with those things means that I’m maintaining some semblance of balance.  Just like reading consistently, those activities allow me to think in different ways and approach life from a more even keel.  They give me perspective and clarity.

So that’s it.  My “resolutions” are more like declarations of things that are important to me and often get neglected.  They are declarations that in 2011, I will remember to refocus every once in a while.  It isn’t going to be a year of doing one thing really well.  I just want to remember to look around more often and evaluate what I need and what the people around me need.  Then I want to do something about it.

Here’s to small change.

photo by CollardGreens

[Cin cin.]

Gooey Goodness: The Aftermath

It turns out that my memory completely blocked out a few pertinent facts about the mud run.  Important fact number one is that of the 5 miles in the race, about 4 of them are sand.  Important fact number two is that I felt out of shape when I ran the race last year, even though I ran 5 miles with relative ease the week before the race.  Important fact number three is that for the past few months, I’ve run a mile or two at a time, not five miles.

To put it kindly, this weekend’s race reminded me of the value of training (and humility). The only real perk is that while people were passing me right and left, I maintained a level of cheer that my fellow slow-pokes didn’t achieve.  If you’re going to be bad at something, you can’t be grumpy, too.  That’s just my opinion.

After about 4.75 miles of sand and frustration, I came to the crowning glory of the mud run–the mud pit.  It’s conveniently located very close to the finish line, which is helpful because you don’t have to drag around 12 pounds of mud for the entire race.  The pit placement is also beneficial because friends and family can watch participants crawl through mud.  That’s probably a lot more entertaining than watching tired racers trudge through a quarter-mile of sand to get to the finish line.  And my favorite reason for having the mud pit so close to the finish line is that the mud crawl is absurdly fun.  You immediately forget how painful the rest of the race was when you dive into that mud, and if you aren’t inspired to frolic to the finish line, I’m not sure what would inspire you.

This is a small sample of the mud on my body after that pit (which was so deep that I had to literally swim through it this year):

Those shorts are hot pink.  Can’t you tell?  And I rinsed my feet so I could walk inside without mopping my entire house.  Before that, my feet were almost as muddy as my legs, despite the fact that they were covered by shoes and socks for the entire race.  My arms, torso, and neck were encased in dried mud, too.  Mmm.

Stepping out of my car covered in dried mud probably upped my crazy points in the neighborhood.  The lady across the street was definitely sitting on her front steps for that Kodak moment.  I should have said something to her, but I think letting her wonder was more fun for both of us.

The verdict for next year is that I fully intend to race again.  It might be a good idea for me to actually train for the event, however.  Please remind me of that sometime in March 2011.

Gooey Goodness

Tomorrow is special.  I’ve been looking forward to it for an entire year.  It’s Mud Run day.

It’s true that at various points in my life, I’ve been in shape.  This isn’t one of those times, but I’m still going to get myself out of bed really early on a Saturday to stand in line so that I can run 5 miles through sand, mud, and marsh with lots of other people.  I’m going to leap over a (short) wall and crawl through a gooey pit, and I can’t wait!  Even though my race time will probably be humiliating, I grin every time I think about tomorrow.