The sun is coming up later and later each day and the cloud cover smothered any hint of morning light. I plugged in my headphones and hit the start button on my phone. I wanted to start the day with a strong run and some good words from my favorite songs. The day ahead was going to be busy with some fires that needed to be tended so this time alone would help me fortify myself. But I wasn’t alone. There were small bunnies scurrying about in the dark, a few hardy folks walking dogs, and the twinkling of the tail lights from cyclists zipping past me. Thirty minutes, three miles, ten songs, ready to go.
I heard someone talking about three bites recently. The idea is that you should try 3 bites of something before you dismiss it. It seems a good idea. And I realized that this is my third bite of the running life and I think I like it.
When I was in college, I ran briefly with my father. He was entertaining a mid-life crisis and was concerned about his health. But I didn’t like running. I would rather be dancing, swimming, or in a dance/aerobic class.
The next time I tried running was about 11 years ago and I hit the trails as an encouragement to my daughter who was struggling with the running required in her P.E. class. I was irritated by a teacher who just sent the kids out to run the track without any instruction about how to run or stretch. My husband (a seasoned marathoner) became our coach, giving us the information we needed to succeed. We ran a 5K after a few months which closed the running chapter for her. But I was hooked and I found myself looking forward to that next run. I began running with my husband (at the same time, not the same pace). I ran through the early stages of a health crisis but as my energy waned, so did my running efforts.
Over the next few years, I would go out for a run here and there but it wasn’t until last summer that I found my way back to the trail. This time it was my older daughter who ran alongside me using the Couch to 5K program on our phones. That accountability, someone asking if I was gong for a run, someone who would make a committment with me.
It isn’t easy to fit all the things we want to do into our days. Reading, writing, running, practicing drums. When I begin to feel that I am over focused on running I try to remember that it is that drive that will get those shoes on my feet and out to the trail. This is a part of my story.
Growing up with three brothers who were constantly working the pecking order (who is stronger, faster, meaner) I considered myself non-competitive. I was the perfect girly girl – I will just sit over here and watch, thank you very much.
But something has triggered in me. And I think it is a competitive streak. This is my third month for the 50 mile challenge. Last month I ran 73 miles and it felt good. I don’t remember my ranking just that at some point, I was number 11 or 12. This month, I found myself sitting in the top 10 and it felt good. Until the day last week when I was number 5 for a brief moment and I knew I wanted that place. I wasn’t going to run the next day but I didn’t want to risk losing my spot. When I saw my ranking sink to number 7, the endorphins kicked in. I don’t know these other runners. I am sure they are lovely women. All I know is, I won’t go down without a fight. And I guess I have to stop saying I am not competitive.
I hit this great milestone recently – a 15 mile week. I didn’t even realize it was a goal until I saw it on my Nike+ site. But I knew it when I saw it. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a big deal. I see many runners who are logging 25 or more miles a week. But at 3-4 miles a run, that means at least 4 times a week. I am naming that – committment. And now, running is a part of my story.
I was out on the trail yesterday, trying to run without walking, tunes playing in my ear, grey clouds overhead and very few others to distract me. It wasn’t that long ago that I could not go for more than 2 minutes and now I have passed the 30 minute mark. I got to thinking about this writing journey. For me, it started more than 3 years ago when I stumbled on the TwoWritingTeachers website. I wrote with hesitation at first, lots of editing, taking out pieces that felt too personal. The words began to tell the story of my work with children, teachers, and families, it felt safe there. But slowly, I found I needed to write about my own experience of family, friends, and faith. I love this logo and this community that Stacey and Ruth have gathered. I wonder if they are surprised at the path their work has paved?
Most days it is hard to “just do it.” I try to eliminate as many stumbling blocks and barriers as I can. I bring my gear to work and hit the trail on the way home, knowing that once I get inside, I won’t want to go out again. I have my playlist with good songs that keep me moving. I keep a hat, gloves, jacket, and towel in my car. But the thing that really helps me get out there, even when the wind is blowing my hair straight back, is my Nike+ sensor – recording each mile, each minute, even each calorie burned. And to see it in print is a good thing.
Sure, it looked like it might rain but I only needed thirty minutes. I loaded up my playlist, turned on the sensor, and plugged in my headphones. At least it wasn’t cold. I pushed the pace, sensing the rain might return before I was done. But I wasn’t prepared for the skies to open up. Big, fat raindrops that felt supercharged with moisture. Rain dripped off my hair, now curly and soggy. I toyed with taking off my wet gloves but where would I put them? Better to just press on and hope there was a towel in the car.