Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Selfishness and Awesomeness

I flinched as the cold wind bit my cheeks. Water filled my eyes, and I blinked back tears that meant nothing.  With a temperature hovering in the mid twenties, and a wind chill in the high teens, it seemed the sun was completely ineffectual despite the brightness.  Never the less, we set out and laid down 5 miles on the icy pavement. They weren’t effortless, but they got done.

We were having a double date, My Run and I. It was nice to go out with another like-minded pair.

I’ve been exclusively dating My Run for a few weeks now.

It’s going well.  There’s no drama with My Run.  Ok, ok, I admit that there’s some drama: I’m borderline obsessed with My Run. Since we are old friends with a long history, it’s been relatively smooth to just step into a full blown relationship again.

Not that it’s without any tension. Mmm. There’s all kinds of chemistry here.

I’d mention our run together the other day as an example, except I don’t want to run and tell. Suffice it to say, afterwards I was sweaty and laughing, and My Run was very satisfied with the effort.

yeah, I work on the 6th Floor
I am reminded of something Professor Holton, a badass cyclist, often says about cycling, “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” That quote applies to My Run too. Not that speed is the ultimate measure of awesomeness. A hott figure is another measure. Or is that spelled hot?

So yesterday, as I climbed the stairs at work, I realized I was only doing it for my run. My run likes a strong a**. It’s kinda My Run’s obsession. That, and strong hips. And don't get me started on what I'm doing in an effort to get a more Run worthy core. Planks, handstands, etc.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m intentionally changing my habits for the benefit of my partner.

Further fueling my concerns, My Run and I are chasing our dreams together again, but we are doing it at the exclusion of others. I turned down a date the other day with a man, because I wanted to spend more time with My Run. Maybe it was also because he wasn’t someone who I wanted to spend time with, but still... I suspect my mother would have an opinion on that.

Difficulty Level:
This intimacy, this commitment, this everything... well, it rocks on so many levels I can’t even begin to explain it. It is deeply satisfying to be monogamous with My Run when there is no real race on the horizon.

It’s selfish feeling, but in a healthy way.  

Except, here’s the question that haunts me:  Can selfishness be healthy? Is there a time where selfishness is the right choice, especially when it leads to awesomeness?

Do we, as a culture, place too much negativity on selfishness?

Or, am I just justifying my selfish behavior of late?

And My Run and I don’t have the answer to any of those questions.

We will just keep getting up in the morning and going out together. We will take the stairs so my assets will be stronger. We will sacrifice our sleep. Sometimes we will join a group, and sometimes we will go it alone. Sometimes we will even rely on mechanical assistance to get us through our miles when we pound it out on a treadmill.

I’ll worry about the selfishness later.

~ savor the run ~ respect the distance ~

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back to Last

I went out to run with the people I don't know again.

Good news, I wasn't dead ass last this week.  Even though I was at one point.

I don't get to claim the honor of that position today, because I had to cut the run short.  At mile 4.something I made a turn and returned to my car in just over 5 miles.

See, at home I had a few important things going on, and my home schedule took precedence over 2 more miles.

Part of being a galactic badass is knowing when to say no to two more miles.  It's knowing when to say "I would love to run, but ...."

Because if I've learned one thing about myself, it's that if I push the run today, and choose to run the miles, it taints the run with worry.  The drive home is driven by "Will I get home in time?"  And next week it would be harder to get up to go run the early morning miles at all.

All that is remembered is the stress.

I don't want to remember the stress.  I want to savor the run.

I want to stop and think, did I really go out in sub freezing temperatures and run 5 miles at Oh Freaking Early Hour?  Did I do that?  Did I run so hard that I was dry heaving at an intersection?  Did I push myself?  I know I did.

So yeah, the run was hard, again.

I, again, started off and thought, "seriously? that is not a warm up pace!"  The splits don't lie, the 8:26 warm up mile was an eight twenty six warm up mile.

I didn't even bother to complain in my head though, not even in the moment.  I just sucked it up and put on my game face.  I thought to myself that I had probably lost my sanity somewhere at the hospital in the last 3 days of work, but hey, why sweat the small stuff?

Sanity is not on my training plan.  Running is.

So I ran.

There was freezing fog swirling in the pitiful beams cast from our headlamps.  Sweaty shoulders blew past me without even a nod, and I could feel the heat of the Back to Last crew even as it mingled with the chilly air.  I wasn't dead ass last, because I knew I was cutting the run short.  I better not let myself be dead ass last.  I needed to make my miles matter in every way.  So I crawled my way forward and rubbed elbows with the back of the pack.

I didn't even care that I was at the back of the pack.

I was no one, I was anyone.  I was running with strangers.  I ran with them until I felt my lungs and heart would explode and then I sucked in some more air and pushed harder.  I was out there doing everything I could to hang.

I honored every step of every mile with my maximum effort.

It got done.

And it'll get done again.

~ savor the run ~ respect the distance ~

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dead A** Last

I over-slept this morning.  I was toying with the idea of randomly showing up on the fly to run with my friend SpeeDee.  She’s usually at a particular intersection at 5:20 a.m.  I didn’t give her a heads up though, because I was so tired after my day of work yesterday that I thought, if I wake up and am too sore to run, I’ll stay in bed and run later.  

So yeah.  That was my half-formed half-assed mental plan as I set my alarm and dozed off.

I bolted awake at 4:56 a.m. with a catchy alarm tune singing in my ear, my heart in my throat, and a run on my mind.

I need to run, I said, as I flew out of bed.  I tossed, tugged, pulled and laced, and 7 minutes later I was outside... walking my dogs.

C’mon dogs... c’mon!  I’ve got to...  there’s no way I’m making it to SpeeDee’s run.  Aaaaannnddd I think I knew that when I got dressed in these running clothes, but at least I made the effort.

There’s another run that goes from the same intersection at 0530 and I knew I could still make it.  Oh freaking five thirty.  I’ve never tried to run with them before.  I know they’re fast.  Ed and Harry Potter are frequently among them and there’s a little voice that echo's my old sentiments, “no way am I trying to run with Those People...” 

Except lately I’ve been advised to tell my inner voice to STFU.  That the little inner voice is holding me back from great things.  So I declared to myself, as I buckled my seatbelt and yanked the car into drive, “The Inner Voice of Sense and Reason is to be ignored for the rest of today”. 

Starting at 0505 this morning, I put her on mute.

Maybe not my best idea, but let’s not get off topic.

I drove to the Rogue Run thinking, Why the F*ck not? Right?  May as well go kick my ass this morning, and why worry if I don’t know the route?  Why fret if I don’t know who will be there?  Or that the people I do know will be there are blistering fast runners?  I mean, Hey, what could happen?

I'm GBA gf.  I’ve got this.

I so did not “got this”.

Mile 1 was an 8:45 ish pace....  That was the warm up?  After that, things got interesting.  I worked every single step of the run.  Every. Single. Step.

The group has a system for mixing paces called “back to last”.  The fastest runners occasionally loop all the way back to the end of the pack to “pick up” the last runner.  Then they run off again, and loop back again.

Good stuff.



Except for the part of the morning that went like this, “Are you last?”

“Yep,” I replied.  “Last.... that’s me.... ”

That was not an awesome feeling.

Mentally, this was a challenging place to find myself.  I’m not that slow, am I?  I mean, as I looked down at the 8:18 on my watch and watched the group pull away from me like I was yogging (I think it's a soft j), I thought, “butbutbutbut... I’m running a freaking 8:18!”

And then I thought -

So, you're running a freaking 8:18?  It seems that to keep up with them this morning you need to be running a freaking 8:00.  Pick it up, G.

Each time the group circled back to last, and lest we forget, I was dead ass last, I would try to push my dead ass last self a little harder.

I barely held it together at points.  It freaking sucked to watch them blow past me and pull away again and again.  I wanted to cut the route short, but I knew that if I kept pushing to hang onto the group that my dear friend LongLegsLeslie (3L) would loop back to me, and WineNOTwhine (WnW) would be near by to encourage me.  I thought, I’ll borrow some energy from Harry Potter as he runs by me next time.  MTT Coach Michael escorted me up a long dark hill, feeding me words of strength as we climbed.

I remember thinking that this was a hard run, maybe the hardest run of my life, because it is mentally difficult to watch the group pull away.  I suppose some people would quit; some would choose to cut the route and go a different way.

That's not where I let my head go.  I wanted to be in the group.  I wanted to go faster, to push harder.  I was hungry for the pain that accompanies running faster than one's comfort zone.  I wanted to run side by side, in the conversation, rubbing elbows with the pack.

Mental toughness today wasn’t about the run. 

It was about hanging on to the hard effort even though my effort would only ensure that I was still dead ass last.  I didn’t really finish dead ass last, exactly.  The last group of “back to last” nestled me into the fold and we all ran in together... at an 8:25.

Brook, another runner I don't know at all, said, "What was the mileage?  My watch must've thought it was a hard run too, 'cos it died."

I looked down and my mouth formed a little "oh".  

While the "back to last" gang must've run further, I still managed to knock out 7.20 miles in 1:03:07.  not bad, not bad at all.

Today at the end of the run I was raw.  My legs felt like ground beef... beef that had been pounded with a mallet... and possibly fed to some carnivore...  I flopped on a chair near some other runners in the brightly lit coffee shop.  The buzz of endorphins was as impossible to miss as the caffeine in my cup.  It felt good to hurt that bad in the company of others.

Despite the pain and misery of the morning, as soon as I got home I looked at my calendar.  I wanted to know when I could have the privilege of being dead ass last again.

~ savor the run ~ respect the distance ~