Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Diary of a Slacker - 10/25

So, as indicated in my previous entry, I've resolved to get back to this running thing.  Sunday morning, it was only a mile, and I figured I'd churn another couple of those out this week, and then bump it up to two.  Originally, the plan was to run yesterday evening.  But I was actually sore from Sunday!?! (In my defense, I did hike about three miles around South City carting a lawn chair in my efforts to cheer on the real runners, but still!) And yesterday's lunch, though quite yummy, left my stomach feeling a little on the not-so-good side.  And, most importantly, I really wanted (needed!) to get a pedicure after work....

And the excuses are so very devious and determined to knock me off my game!  So I decided to push back: I'd set my alarm for 5:30 this morning and get up and run then - ha!  That'd show 'em!  Or something.  As I finally collapsed into bed after midnight, I had a fleeting thought that maybe an extra half hour of sleep was more desirable than a pre-dawn run, but I resisted the temptation to knock the alarm time back to 6:00.  And wow did 5:30 come early!  

Fortunately, I woke up in non-groggy mode, and was able to drag myself out of bed and into my running attire, finally making it out the door at 5:52.  Not bad, but, seeing as I had to meet Jim & Riley in The Valley, at 6:30, it didn't leave me a lot of time.  There'd be no taking it slow this morning! Thankfully, it was in the 50's so the run temp was quite bearable.  My shoes each took a turn coming untied, but, honestly, since it was during the uphill stretch, I didn't mind the momentary breathers to re-tie and stave off the looming face plants on the concrete in the dark.  

I knew the GPS on my Runkeeper app wasn't working right when I took off, but I didn't have time to fool with it.  Sure enough, as I completed my run, I was amused to see that the program had tacked on roughly .3 miles to my route, which knocked my pace down to a 9:06 min/mile pace.  Heh.  Yeah - I don't think I'm there quite yet.  Then the stupid thing didn't post to Facebook or Twitter, so I decided to post it manually. Only, instead of putting in 13 minutes as my completion time, I accidentally put in 13 hours.  Which apparently translates into 1132 calories burned, despite the snail-like pace.  So - if you're ever looking for a way to burn a bunch of calories, and have half a day or so to spare, now you know!

Despite the technical difficulties, I was actually feeling quite good about this morning's run.  Then I made the mistake of stepping on the scale, and subsequently doubled-down by accidentally pulling out a pair of my Size 2 pants from my uber-skinny days and attempting to don them as I got ready for work.  Yeah, I'm about 12-15 pounds past those.   I don't know if I'll ever be able to reclaim them as appropriate attire, but I'm going to take a shot at it.  And in the meantime, try and figure out a way to trick gravity into redistributing weight upwards.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Diary of a Slacker - The Return

Those who have been Facebook friends with me for awhile may recall my Diary of a Slacker Notes.  I've not kept up with those - true to form, I've been slacking. Not only have I not kept up with recording my run-training progress, I've not kept up with my running. At least not very well. But that's about to change.

It isn't just the fact that most of my pants have gotten a bit too snug for comfort that has inspired me to snap out of this lazy streak and seriously get back to the running.   Today was the Rock 'n Roll Marathon & Half Marathon - a race for which I'd signed up with every intention of completing. It's already been a year and a half since I ran one - far too long.

But I cut the timing of training-in-earnest awfully close as it was. And then I let some sickness and a little sadness take me out of the game all together. It got to the point where I knew if I tried to push it, I'd probably end up hurting myself.  So the excuses won the day and I bailed.

It was the right decision, but as I was picking up my packet with my friend Tina at the Expo yesterday, I felt more than a twinge of regret that I wouldn't be running today. Even more so as I stood along the course today and watched all the runners go by. I was happy to cheer them on, but sad not to be running along side them.

One of my favorite things about today was listening to my friends, The Hulapoppers, play at the Mile 12/Mile 25 marker and seeing the look of sheer joy that would overtake some of the runners' faces as familiar tunes tickled their ears.  In some, you'd see a little hop-skip in their stride.  The music combined with the realization that they truly were in the home stretch.  I remember what that feels like - when it sinks in that you really do only have a mile left to go, and what's a mile when you've just run 12 (or 25)?!  There's nothing quite like it.  And I aim to get there again.

As a show of solidarity to my friends who actually were running today, I'd resolved to go for a short run myself this morning before heading down to the race.  It had been over a month since I'd run, and it seemed the least I could do. But when I woke up this morning, it was chilly, and I was already running a little late, and I knew I'd have to walk quite a way once I got down there, and....  The excuses tried to get the better of me again.    

But I didn't let them.  It wasn't much, but I churned out a mile - at a whopping 11:20 minute pace.  Yeah.  That's gonna need to improve.  Substantially.  And it will.  Because it's embarrassing to acknowledge my slugginess when I know I'm capable of far better.  So I'll be inflicting the return of my Slacker's Diary on any of you charitable enough to follow along.  It'll help keep me focused. Which is a good sort of thing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Tears of October

I need to preface this entry with an apology -- it's a little dark and rather intensely personal. And it's probably the opposite of what many of us need at the moment. I've written so infrequently of late that I feel guilty sharing this. But when the words want out, they want out....

I know many people love Fall: the cool, crisp air, the leaves as they change, the smoky smell of them burning, or of marshmallows roasting over fire pits, football and tailgating, playoff baseball...

I love those things, too.  But this time of year always brings with it the bittersweet taste of tears for me.  It was 29 years ago, and the Cardinals were playing Milwaukee (then an American League team) in the World Series.  They won Game 7 on Wednesday, October 20, 1982 - I remember the evening well. I was home with my Dad, typing a paper on Euclid for my Geometry class and watching the game.  (Mom was out of town for work -- ironically, in Milwaukee.)  We were elated with the win.  Later that night, though, would come a terrible loss. I wrote a poem about it some months later for my English class. If you'll indulge me, I think I'll let the 14 year old me tell the story:

Death of a Dream

Death is cruel and unrelenting;
Its hand reaches all ends of the earth.
It lurks around every corner,
Present from the time of our birth.

Its victims are not those who it claims,
For the pain ends for them once they die.
It stays, though, forever with those of us
Who find it so hard to say goodbye.

I, too, have known this awful pain.
I've felt it three times this past year.
First Grandpa, then Rich, then my cat.
Rich's story I'll tell with a tear:

He was my dear sister's boyfriend.
I know he meant everything to her.
And though I met him just a few times,
He was right for her, I was sure.

He was warm, and cute, and funny.
Her love for him was strong and true.
And I saw her happiness mount
As their love for each other grew.

The Cardinals won the World Series
On that horrible night that he died.
When I found out about it the next day,
I just ran to my friend's house and cried.

I remember finding out on a Thursday.
We'd had a sock-hop at school after a game.
I got home and knew something was wrong
When I heard my Mom call my name.

She'd been out of town on business,
And was, I thought, in Milwaukee that day.
When I saw her my heart leapt in fear
As I noted her state of dismay.

I asked what was wrong and she told me.
Her voice cracked and a tear shone in her eye.
And all I could do for a long time
Was ask, "Why, oh why, did he die?"

His death had shattered a dream,
A dream that could never be mended.
It was killed along with him in that car
When his precious life was ended.

And so, death claimed my dear sister's boyfriend,
And with him a part of her, too.
Yes death is cruel and unrelenting.
This fact I now know to be true.

That experience was, without question, a watershed for me. I've often wondered why it affected me as profoundly as it did. I suspect it was the fact that the loss came so suddenly and without warning. That's a harsh lesson to learn at that age -- maybe at any age.  And knowing -- feeling -- the pain it caused my sister. It was a soul crushing thing, and, in truth, it affected my whole family -- my grandmother, my parents, my siblings.  After, we were simply...different.  Wounded, saddened, but closer and stronger in some ways -- like a tree that has survived a damaging blow and found a way to grow over and around it.

Though it did heal over time, that wound that has never been forgotten, and each year, as Summer says goodbye and October approaches, I feel a certain sense of foreboding.  Is that simply superstition? I'm not sure.  Logical or no, October since then has always been about love and loss to me.  It was in October, a couple years later, that I met a boy to whom I would forever lose my heart, and about whom, there would always be a sense of missed opportunities and might-have-beens.  It was in October, several years after that, that I began dating my (now ex) husband.  (And for all the good that came of that -- most notably, the amazingly wonderful Riley -- there later came the undeniable loss of divorce.)  It was in October that we lost his dear sister when she was far too young to leave us.  It was in October, a year ago, that I encountered yet another loss -- one which, in retrospect, ought not to have seemed quite so devastating, but given its suddenness and circumstances, nevertheless knocked me utterly flat.

So, here we are once again in October. The Cardinals are in the World Series, and there is much for which to be thankful -- even joyful. But it is, indeed, bittersweet.  I have several friends who've recently lost loved ones, and others with loved ones who are gravely ill. And there's a chill in the air that I can't quite chase away. For all the beauty this time of year can hold, to me, October will always be a reminder of love and lives lost.