Monday, November 12, 2012

The Path of Least Mountain Lions

I realized the other day that I am happiest when training for a marathon. So, obviously, I signed up for a marathon.  The end.

Part Two: a week or so later, I decided not to do the marathon after all. The next best thing to training for a marathon is writing about how I have decided not to train for a marathon. At least not right at this moment.

It came to me when laying in bed, in my usual state of insomnia, that my schedule in the next 2 weeks leaves almost no room for running. So, I started planning things like "well, I will just get up at 4am and do a 15 miler before work." Then I was trying to figure out where to run safely, alone, at 4am. "I can get a quick 45 minutes in at 5:30 at the gym on the treadmill then shower there and head to work." Ugh. "I can try to escape during the day at work and run for an hour." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. "I can run at 9:30pm after my 14 hours at the hospital." Then I was trying to figure out where to run safely, alone, at 9:30pm. Crap.

The thing is I LOVE running. I don't just like it for my health. I don't even like it for my jean size. If I could never run again, I will at least have these amazing memories, but I would grieve for a long time. Incidentally, I also love to play piano and very nearly cut the tip of one of my fingers off while making dinner for my family last night. Life without piano would suck beyond belief. If I was fingerless and could not run, I strongly recommend keeping a healthy distance between me and yourself.

Anyway, I was at the marsh the other night and was actually running relatively fast (for me these days, which is not saying a whole lot. See last post). And it looked so beautiful my heart nearly exploded (or maybe that was just the pace, but either way, it was nice). At first it was sublime.

Marsh, Nov 2012

But then it just declared itself and you could not help but see it for what it was.

 South Oxidation Pond, Nov 2012

And what it was? Just another sunset. And the only sunset there ever was. And that running path? I've tread on it a thousand times. After seeing these pictures, my daughter said something like "You always seem to run at the Marsh at the most beautiful times." Well, the marsh (our sewage plant, by the way), is a beautiful place, said I. And a thousand times there does not begin to scratch the surface. Except probably literally, in the running shoe path erosion sense of things.

Which path should I take? I think I shall not take the one that involves running at 4am with the mountain lions. If you haven't got a marathon in you, a half marathon will do. If you haven't got a half marathon, God bless you. 

Nice Path, Marsh Nov 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where is my Speed?

I have been looking everywhere for my speed. Let me clarify right now that I am about as straight edge as they come, so what I am referring to has nothing to do with illicit substances. I am desperately searching my fast pace. Where is it?

I tried to find it in Anaheim recently. With an hour a day for lunch break during a week of meetings, I would dash up to my hotel room, change and hit the streets around Disneyland. Of course, the stoplights proved challenging (city running, ugh!). Also, it was hot, by my far north coast standards. Also, there was almost a constant stream of second hand smoke. Everyone seems to smoke in Anaheim. Excuses abound.

I surely was not going to find it on my run last weekend along the Pacific Crest Trail. This is not a terrain for speed. Switch backs, steep, vertigo-inducing drop offs, 17% grades to climb. Oh, and did I mention my issues with heat?

I looked for it yesterday, but it was not to be found on the steep trails of my forest. It showed me a faint glimpse of itself on the downhill of Fickle Hill Rd, but downhills don't really count. It was like a shadowy presence at the marsh, sometimes in plain view but quickly disappearing when I turned a corner to find 25 mph winds pushing into my face.

Speed Shadow, Marsh, 10/31/12

I strongly dislike whining, and therefore should by all rights delete everything I just wrote. Last night, in between shoveling candy into the hands and pillow cases of other people's children, I was chatting with my oldest kid, also a runner. I told her, "I cannot seem to find my speed." Says she: "Its OK Mom. Plus, you are training for a 50 mile run so endurance is really important right now." This is the same kid who shouted at me as I whizzed past her when we were out biking (she was about 8 years old at the time),  "Remember Mommy! Slow and steady wins the race!"

This is also the kid who could whoop my butt in a road race right at the moment.

Running is my meditation, so speed does not matter.
Running is for my health, so speed does not matter.
Running allows me to gaze upon beauty, to smell the eucalyptus after the rain, to greet my fellow humans without the ton of automobile steel encasing me, to feel my heart strongly pumping and to find bliss in a cold glass of chocolate milk at the end of a hard workout.

It lets me see stuff like this:
Marsh Run, 10/31/12

Still. I want my speed back. 

Where is it?????