Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Run, Ya Turkey

Pie. I plan to eat a lot of pie this week.

Then maybe I'll start running again. Apparently this 38-year-old body of mine has plateaued with its current yoga/walking regimen. I need to ramp things up if I want to see improvements. Running seems to be the only option.

I actually don't like running very much. While sometimes the actual process of running feels good, light and free, most times it feels labor-intensive. No matter how loose I keep my body and how much I breathe, I am always measuring the distance back to my house. Been doing that since I ran distance for my high school track team. But once I've finished my run, cooled down and had several glasses of water, I feel awesome. And that's why I used to run.

Well, that, and the fact that I was running away from myself.

My ex-husband, then regular ol' husband, used to tease me: "You're running from yourself!" If only he knew how right he was when he said that as I limbered up on the front steps of my old house before taking off for a sprint around the neighborhood. My time running was spent letting my thoughts crash like waves while I pounded pavement, beet-red and sweaty.  I didn't know what to do with myself back then. So much was going on in my head, heart and home, and part of the process of figuring out the next step was simply to run through it--physically, mentally. Until I couldn't run anymore.

And then I really couldn't run anymore. My marriage was over. I was working full-time again. My morning routine of a run before my husband left for work was a thing of the past. Instead, I was feeding the dog and getting two kids and myself ready for the day, driving to daycare and then heading to my dull office job downtown until 5pm. Every day. I was no longer running from myself. I was running the routine. But I was good at it.

A few years later, when Ian and I bought a house together, and I embarked on Marriage #2, I once again had the support I needed to jump out the door for a run in the morning. But what I lacked was the ambition. I didn't feel the need to run. But I took it up again, briefly, when my friend Pat lay dying in the hospital. It was a primal need to run then. Maybe as it was in my first marriage. A primal need to run and run and run until I could accept the reality I would come home to: That people die. Relationships die. But that life goes on.

So in some ways, considering my historic motivations, it's a good thing that I've not felt inclined to run so much in recent years. But I miss it--not the actual running, but that feeling afterward. Runner's high? I don't know. More like a sustained level of mental clarity, especially when I was running at least four times a week. I felt good all over. And I could eat whatever the hell I wanted and not gain a pound.

I'm not expecting the latter from a new running routine. Back then, I had two small children who I shifted from one hip to the other all day, and one who still nursed. There were more reasons than running that helped me stay fit. Extreme stress in my marriage had something to do with it, too. I'll just be happy if I can manage a couple of miles a few times a week and see a few of these unwanted pounds come off. I don't need to lose a lot of weight; for that I'm grateful. But I'd sure like to shed a little bit of this muffin top. That's not going to happen if I maintain the status quo.

So that's the plan. I'm feeling pretty confident that I can sustain a new running routine that is strictly for myself, rather than because I'm afraid my brain will burst into flames if I don't go for a run. Those days are over (right?). So I'll have the pie. (Hell, I make the pie, and it's awesome. So I will absolutely eat the pie.) And I'll raise a glass this Thanksgiving to my life--this wonderful life I've created. A shell of my life cracked open six years ago, and nothing has been the same since. It is a beautiful thing. I have two wonderful, handsome and brilliant sons. A great husband. A wacky, loving family. Amazing friends. A nurturing neighborhood filled with good people. My mother. My siblings. My grandmother. My dogs. My teacher certification program and the new friends I've made there. My two legs that have carried me this far and will carry me through whatever comes next. Life is good. It's never guaranteed. It is way up and way down and way up again. And I'm grateful for every minute of it.

Happy Thanksgiving, all y'all.

And have pity on me when you see me huffing and puffing out there November 25th.



Julia H. said...

Awesome! I just started running up the hill in my neighborhood and I can only make it 3x. I laugh the whole way down because it's so pathetic. But, man does it work to peel the pounds off and get the heart pounding in a great way. I agree, it's a weird activity, not always pleasant, but so, so rewarding. I'll keep you posted on my progress. I think it's great that you feel like it again.

Mike Wood said...

I "run" (really more of an ungainly jog) at night so no one has to see me huffing and puffing (and worse, bouncing and jiggling)