FishDreamer scribbles: It ain't over yet.

Wednesday, 9 June 2004

Starving of the Hunger

So I had a great plan to do Bikram yoga today, until I remembered that yoga while menstruating is not good. And then I was going to go for a run in my new trail shoes, and see how that went. But in the middle of our lunch & learn meeting, I started to feel kind of faint and woozy. I tried to pretend it was just the normal monthly hormonal wackiness. And then I got ill. Not vomitous, just ill. Headache, stuffy feeling, beginnings of a sore throat (almost like I need to cry), complete inability to concentrate.

I do not want to be sick right now. I have lots of interesting work to do, I have my first trail run this weekend, I have my dad coming next week, I have books I want to read, I just don't want this. And there's not a lot I can do about it, because if I wake up feeling horrible tomorrow, I will have to stay home and sleep. And I might not feel well enough to run 7.5 miles up and down hills in the woods this weekend. I don't begrudge the money (it goes to maintaining the trails), but I want the experience and I want the technical running hat I would get for doing it.

Saturday, 12 June 2004

Too bad, self, you're going to be sick. Hi, I'm back. I went to the race and got my hat, and watched the start, but I didn't do it. I couldn't. I've been sick since Wednesday, and I stayed home Friday and rested. I'm simply not well enough. My head hurts, my throat is sore, I'm weak and whiny and just... not well. So I got my hat, which is a great hat. And maybe I'll sign up for the next one (11 miles or so), or maybe not. I'm hoping that if I stay low this weekend I'll be okay by Monday.

I don't feel horrible, but I feel bad. I went to work on Thursday and probably shouldn't have, but I had a lot to do and I felt okay. Took my laptop home and got some work done yesterday once I got out of bed, because it needed to be done and my mind wouldn't stop thinking about it. Slept very poorly last night, will likely take a nap today if I can get comfortable. It's a nice sunny, breezy day, perfect for a trail run. Big sigh.

It was interesting to watch the people doing the race. Trail runners are definitely a different crowd from what you'll see at a 5K fun run. These are Runners, and they have technical gear and appropriate shoes. Most of them were in trail shoes, not running shoes (and not hiking boots, which are something else). I'm glad I went, not just to get the hat but also because it reminded me that I do love this.

I don't know when I really became a Runner, but somewhere along here I did. I started running because it was something I could do anywhere, on my own, and because there are lots of races to keep it interesting and social. I still do tae bo, tai chi, yoga, bellydancing, biking, skating, swimming, whatever. But my main focus, especially in the summer, is running. I'm all excited about it. I can't wait to get better so I can hit the trails again, with my new water bottle and trail shoes. I've started wearing running clothes in serious fabrics instead of old race shirts with the sleeves and neck cut out. I wear nylon running shorts instead of lycra/supplex bike-style shorts. (This is more because of the ass jiggle coverage, but whatever.) And I read Runner's World religiously.

There's an article in the newest issue where Olympic runner Gerry Lindgren says, "If you don't know why you run, you're not going to last. You have to have a reason to run. Run with your heart." And that stuck in my mind yesterday. Why do I run?

Watching those 100 or so people take off up that hill (the course goes up for the first mile and a half), I remembered. I run because I can, because it makes me feel good, and because I enjoy it. I don't run on the trails in winter because they get muddy and slick and I could break something, so I forget. That first time every spring, when I go back in the trees and up and down and over the streams, and deal with the mosquitoes and the nettles, I remember. I always laugh with sheer joy when I'm out running in the woods, even when I'm tired and I can feel blisters forming between my toes.

It's beautiful out there. And it's just me, my water bottle, and the woods. It's deeply satisfying to my soul, somehow. When I went out on the trail last week to see if I could do the five mile course, I kept making grunty noises on occasion so that I wouldn't surprise a cougar or a bear, should there be one around. This is the kind of solitude I crave, and it's part of the reasons why I run.

I used to hate running, back when I was first getting started. Back when I still smoked, and was a lot heavier than I am now. It hurt to run, it was difficult, I jiggled all over the place and I looked and felt ridiculous. But I stuck with it, because it worked, and because the races gave me evidence that it was working. My first 5K time, back in 1997, was over fifty minutes. I remember my heart rate was in the 180s. My heart rate is still in the 180s for a 5K, but I can do it in under 35 minutes now.

I remember the first race where I ran the whole thing - it was a flat out and back course and I just kept saying "I'll run to that light pole" or "I'll run to that car" and then I'd push it out, until I was done. It hurt. I finished in 39:38 (the results are still on the web, how weird). It was the first time I broke 40 minutes, and I was ever so excited about that. And then the woman who finished behind me came up and thanked me for not walking, because she followed me in and I kept her going the whole time. That was cool. That made my day. Not only had I run a whole three point one miles for the first time ever, without stopping, but I helped someone else do it too.

I run for fitness and health and to keep my knees strong, but mostly I run because I like it. And I have personal experience to back up the claim that regular exercise helps with depression. It's not endorphins, it's not runner's high. It's that I get outside, I commune with nature, I have time to myself, and I have time to think. I remember how, in high school and college, swimming was my time in my head. You're not interacting with anyone in the water, you're just doing. It's physical time, and while there is a need to keep aware of what you're doing and focused on (in running) the road and what's going on around you. But I guess this is where I prove I'll never be an elite athlete (it's a bit late now anyway): Lance Armstrong talked about how when he rides, he thinks about what he's doing. He is completely focused on himself and the bike and what he's doing. I'm not like that (as I believe I've said before, a couple months ago when I read It's Not About the Bike). Running is my time to let my mind sort through things, and get out some energy around those things. I would much rather have that outlet than win any race, anywhere. I need that.

That is why I run, and that is why I race. I have no plans to ever win anything, except my own goals. I want to break thirty minutes in a 5K, I want to finish a 10K running the whole way (maybe this October, if things go well), I want to run a half marathon in under three hours (that being a run instead of a mostly walk like the only one I've done so far). And I want to run in the woods. Lots. It makes me happy, and it keeps me sane.

The title up there is a quote from Anne McCaffrey's Crystal Singer. I was going to write, on Wednesday, about how I was constantly hungry that day. I wasn't so hungry Thursday and Friday, but I am today. I got sidetracked and went to bed before I finished writing, so now it doesn't make sense.

I hope you're all having a lovely weekend and get a chance to go outside at least a little.

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