July 05, 2005

I got my feet on the ground and I don't go to sleep to dream

Update on the running progress, because there is Big News: this morning I went twice around Prospect Park, plus a little more to bring it up to, are you ready now? Are you really ready? SEVEN MILES! I ran seven miles, w00t! Slow as all hell, but without stopping, which was cool. The time will improve. (Actual time, 87 minutes, for anyone keeping track. A long time to be on my feet.)

This means I will definitely finish the half-marathon in under three hours, and the marathon in under six, because my times have been steadily decreasing. I know those predicted times sound awful, but they'll get shorter as I get more data (and more miles in my legs). I'd be pretty happy with a five-hour marathon, and I think that's doable by November 6th.

The running itself is getting pretty zen as the distances get longer. I'd heard that might happen, but it's kind of freaky. Not bad-freaky, good-freaky. Interesting; meditative. I seem to have given up the iPod, and I don't remember making a conscious decision to do so. It's not like I rejected the idea of running with music; it's just that one day I had a good run without music (my earphones were broken) and I didn't go back to it.

If I'm weirding anybody out with this ultra-calm, zen runnergirl talk ("It's just me and the road and the trees, man, mile after mile.") you can click on over to Francis's blog, where I've done a guest turn being all screamy and fussy. He's in Los Angeles this week, and we thought his regular readers would feel bereft without a good rant to help them through the week. I'll prolly post over there again this week, but it definitely won't be a rant; it's a little exhausting to work up such a head of steam!

Posted by Rose at 10:46 PM | Comments (7)

June 30, 2005

Calling all enthusiasts

Francis has blogged at length about the incredibly full day we had last Saturday, so I'm not going to repeat all the details he laid out. I'm more interested in getting at two specific experiences from the weekend that were thrilling at the time and have continued to resonate for me.

Saturday morning we both ran the Front Runners New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Run, a 5-mile race. That makes it sound as though Francis and I ran it together, though, and that's not true; our running paces are very different (he runs around an 8-minute mile; in Prospect Park I'm running 11-minute miles) and it would be silly for us to try to stay together. We did hang out until it was time to line up, then we wished each other a good run and we went to our starting places.

I ran well. I didn't walk at all until after I'd run two miles, and then when I walked it was just to bring down my pulse and calm my breathing a bit, so I could go back out a little more relaxed. My walks weren't long, and I recovered well from them and went back into running. I ended up finishing strong, running the last mile without walking at all, and ran through the finish to see Francis waiting for me, all smiles. I'd seen people along the race route with rainbow popsicles for the last quarter-mile or so, and I was pretty damned eager to get one. Gay-themed and yummy; what more could you want from a post-race treat?

Here's what I loved about the run: it was totally absorbing. More so than any of my actual training runs, I suppose partly because there was a real impetus to finish, partly because of having so many other people around. If I'd been made to predict before running my first race, I'd have imagined that having other runners on the course would be distracting, but back at my end of the pack it's not too crowded, and instead of providing a distraction, the runners provide me with this happy sense that we're all in it together, all us weirdos with our bib numbers and our running shoes, and I like having them there. It's the same camaraderie I feel from seeing folks out in Prospect Park, but heightened.

I felt terrifically aware of both my surroundings and my body. It was only the second time I'd run in Central Park, and only the second time I'd run five miles, and the newness of both things kept my mind enjoyably engaged. I did have one sort of weird spot in the middle, emotionally, where the distance started to seem a little long, and that's when I said to myself, "Wow, the marathon is over five times as long as this, are you really doing this?" I solved the emotional problem by telling myself that yes, in fact, I did seem to be doing this, and could I kindly shut the fuck up? Magically, I did shut the fuck up, and that was the end of the negative talk. The rest of the race was gorgeous. Taxing, sweaty, perfectly wonderful. I love how there are NYRR people at various points who shout bits of encouragement; I was wearing a distinctive t-shirt (a tank that says "runs like a girl" that I bought from marmalade.ca's Cafe Press site) and I have purple hair, so I would often get specific words of praise. That rocks! I had heard this was a good plan, and I will certainly do something special when I run the marathon in November.


So, as I was saying about the race, I was thrilled by how completely involving the experience was. That would have been satisfying enough, but then I went on to have another such experience, in a completely different context, the very next day.

I had been looking forward to the Ted Leo concert for weeks. It was at Irving Plaza, not a venue I have a lot of love for, but Francis and I managed to score standing space in the balcony right behind the sound guys, facing the center of the stage, so while we weren't near the stage, we had a perfect view, totally unobstructed. The first opening act was kind of eh (distressingly loud math rock); the second opening act I liked quite well, Francis agreed, and we ended up getting a CD of theirs. (That second band is Radio 4; they've toured with Ted Leo before, and they played a great, energetic set, full of nifty percussion and keyboards, and sounding just enough but not too much like Franz Ferdinand or the Futureheads.)

Then Ted Leo went on. I loved the show we saw last year at the Bowery Ballroom, and being neurotic, I had fretted that I somehow wouldn't be as transported by this one. Happily, I was wrong. It was still just Ted, his bass player (Dave Lerner), and his drummer (Chris Wilson). They are the tightest rock combo I think I have ever seen. Their songs, on the CDs, are incredibly fast, and then they come out and play them live, like, 10-15% faster. It's astonishing. It's a little hard to describe the music, but you can just go over to Ted Leo's website, click on "audio" and listen to some stuff for yourself. I suggest "Me and Mia," "Bleeding Powers," and "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone" for starters, but all the songs he's got posted are great; you might try "Loyal to My Sorrowful Country" to start getting a sense of how this guy both rocks and is writing thoughtful, interesting, political lyrics.

The concert itself captivated me. It's so hard, in the midst of a crazy, busy, overfull life, to stop multitasking and to just be someplace. To just experience the thing I am experiencing, and to not be thinking about the next thing or remembering the last thing: to be in the moment. That concert was a series of moments; being present for them was, most emphatically, not a problem. Just listening to recorded rock music can be exciting, of course, on headphones, or on speakers at home, or even in a club. But there's nothing like a live show by performers who are on; part of the thrill is that they themselves seem to be in a kind of flow state while they're performing; another observation I've made over the years is that performing so intensely is an extremely vulnerable thing for someone to get up and do, and doing it well forges an incredible connection with the audience. Other aspects of a great show are "simply" sensory—it's dark, and crowded, and the music is much louder than you could ever play it at home, and if the venue's competent the sound's sharp and the lighting on the band's interesting.

All those things I just described were true for the first band, whose music I didn't enjoy, and clearly they weren't enough to make up for music I didn't like; they were also true for the second band, whose music I enjoyed fairly well, and I could tell that it gave them a bit of a boost (in my books, at least). Then Ted and the guys came out, and the effect was overwhelming.

I'd be happy to watch and listen to Ted Leo play acoustic in a church basement; I've seen a video of him doing just that, and it was great stuff. He clearly doesn't need a particular setting to produce good music, and I don't need to be in one to appreciate it. Sunday night at Irving Plaza, though, I had one of my very favorite concert experiences ever. I was just there, hearing the music, watching the drummer nail every fucking beat, singing along sometimes, and not sometimes, and utterly intent on the show. I didn't want to be anywhere else but right there in that square foot of space for that length of time, and I can't think of any better definition of contentment.

Posted by Rose at 11:54 PM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2005

Done is good, but done well is so much fucking better

I ran five miles for the first time on Tuesday! My strategy of not going out too fast to start, and incorporating a little walking early on (roughly at mile intervals, although in practice it was just when it felt right) worked out pretty well, and I ran the five miles in just a hair under 60 minutes, 59:40, and I was well pleased with myself.

I'll be running five miles again tomorrow, in the Front Runners New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Run, so I decided that I should taper my mileage in order to run well on Saturday. I feel a bit silly, since my mileage is so low, but in fact, my experience over the last few days has me thinking that there's something to this theory of tapering!

I didn't run Wednesday morning, and Wednesday evening, as I was walking home from the train station, I had a sensation in my legs that I've only had a couple of times before, always when my conditioning was going well. I could feel my legs eager to run. It's a kind of thrilling feeling, really. Like I've started a process that my body intends to continue, but which isn't entirely volitional. Spooky.

Thursday morning I ran once around the park, 3.35 miles, and tried to take it easy, but I still came in at 37 minutes. The niftiest thing about the run on Thursday was that it seemed short! I was running clockwise, and as I cleared the Oriental Pavillion, I thought, "Wow, am I really almost done?" Yep. I wouldn't say I was disappointed at not getting to run more that morning, but I certainly could have run more, and that was enlightening.

This morning I ran two miles. Two miles! I dilly-dallied getting out the door; it seemed funny getting dressed out to only run two miles. I stretched before and after, and took the run seriously, and I had a wonderful time. I was tempted to try to run fast, to see just how fast I could go, but I was able to remember that the point was to NOT spend all my energy, but to BANK my energy, and stretch, and be loose. It was all good.

I'm a little peeved that the cool, dry, astonishingly lovely weather we've been having is going to disappear just in time for me to run in Central Park, but I'll try not to develop a complex about it. Francis is running, too! It's his first race, and I'm sure he'll get all bloggy about it.

This weekend we've also got the Mermaid Parade, and the New Pornographers concert in Prospect Park, and a friend's shindig on Sunday, and then the Ted Leo show at Irving Plaza on Sunday night. Yay! w00t! I promise, right here in pixels, that I will not attempt to run away with Ted Leo after the show on Sunday. I promise. Unless he begs. (^_^)

Posted by Rose at 07:19 PM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2005

My heart going boom boom boom

Wow, what a great run this morning! A great run yesterday morning, too! Each time I just went once around Prospect Park, but the weather has been terrific, and I'm feeling fabulous.

This morning I went out thinking I'd run five miles. This is unprecedented. Because of this, I tried to keep in mind that I should save some energy. Things didn't quite work out the way I planned, but I can't say that I'm particularly upset about it.

Today I worked a little on form, and it was incredibly fun. I kept my arms low and I ran tall and loose and easy, and it really made a difference. I'd see someone pushing a stroller towards me, and I'd give the baby a grin, I felt so good. Also, I've learned to love hills, both up and down—I love feeling my legs working hard when I go up them, and I love getting to cruise a little as I go down. When I speed up coming down a hill, I think to myself, "This is what it would be like to be fast!"

I had to force myself to walk a little here and there, because I knew I wanted to go long today, and I wanted to keep some run in my legs. I was a little sad each time I did it, but I felt mature and responsible. Even so, as I came around towards the Oriental Pavillion, and then towards the Peristyle (I was running clockwise this morning) my legs were feeling somewhat tired. That seemed odd, but I didn't pay it a lot of attention. Then I came in to Park Circle at the lower end of the park, and I checked my time: 37:10! That was with a ton of walking, when really I'd wanted to run straight through! Wow! Yay!

I thought about it for just a moment, and then I made a truly responsible decision: I went home. I'll run long tomorrow, and I'll try to do a better job pacing myself. I'm excited about my fast run, though. Eleven minute miles, including walking breaks! Zoom!

Posted by Rose at 07:50 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2005

I chase my memories alone down through my dreams

It's been a hell of a month, y'all. Anybody still visiting? I'm surely sorry I haven't been posting; it'll take a bit of explaining to even get across how it happened that I've just gone quiet for weeks and weeks.

It wasn't writer's block, not in the normal sense. There were things I meant to write about, that I wanted to write about. Some of those were things I ended up scrawling in my little Moleskine as I rode the train and which aren't actually fit for other people to read, though. Some of the things I sat down to write at the computer ended up being so lengthy and far-ranging and emotional that they were becoming essays more than blog entries, and I just couldn't wrestle them into a more concise format. The biggest problem over the last few weeks, though, has been that I've been overwhelmed. Before I became overwhelmed I hadn't thought of myself as being in a precarious state, but looking back it seems kind of obvious. The addition of some mom-induced anxiety overbalanced me, and I just fell over into a quivering pile of jumpy, irritable, spaced-out insecurity and neurosis.

Well, I took it up as a part-time job, actually. In between I was going to work at Facts on File, and keeping up my running, and doing freelance work, and minding the store, and little bits of everything else. The wretched anxiety was filling up more and more hours of the day, though, so I had to call a halt; a couple of weeks ago I saw a psychiatrist, and she was very helpful. Next week I start seeing the therapist she recommended. I'll get this all straighted out. (I'm not new to the world of helping professionals, so I know the drill. It's actually kind of interesting to have a problem that is so *straightforward*!)

Anyway. That's been the background of the last several weeks. What have some of the details been like? There's been cool shit, I tell you what. I ran Prospect Park for the first time! Twelve minute miles on average, but that included some walking, and it was fucking awesome. I've gone on to keep running the main loop of Prospect Park, and last week I ran the lower loop twice, for a four-mile run. *A four-mile run!* Wow!

On June 5th I ran my first road race, with NYRR. It was a 4.7K race, in honor of their 47th anniversary as a running group. I was slow as hell, as it was the first day of our major heat wave, but I finished, and I was on top of the world. I ran, out in public, with a bib number on my chest, just like a freaking athlete!

I've gotten to do some cooking recently. The supper club I belong to was my baby this month, and I had a meal to feature all the good stuff I brought back from my last trip to Louisiana. I made crawfish etouffee and a chicken and andouille gumbo, and I also served head cheese and some wonderful boudin as appetizers. I had even brought home some pickled quails eggs and some locally smoked beef jerky, and it was all awesome. My friend Mary made delicious bread pudding with bourbon sauce, and my friend Jenny made fabulous pecan praline ice cream, and we had a little taste testing of different bourbons along with our desserts. Oh, that was a fine, fine meal.

I've also been experimenting with putting up liqueurs. So far there is a jar of rhubarb and a jar of strawberry liqueur in the cupboard, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how I like the results. I became interested last year, and then I read Teresa Nielsen Hayden's lovely blog entry on the topic, and then I saw the site she linked to, and then I've bought a book that Gunther Anderson recommended, and it's just all becoming lots of fun.

As for things that are less fun, well, there's been some of that, too. I've got a lot of work to do with the therapist I'll be seeing, that's for certain. The raw anxiety is calming with the help of the pharmaceutical interventions; I expected that, and it felt appropriate to seek out that help. Now that I'm calmer, I have the opportunity to actually think about what's really upsetting me, and damn, there's some big scary stuff there. The meat of it should get its own entry, since I'd like to address it fully and more thoughtfully, but there are a few aspects I can touch on quickly.

Teaching myself how to interact with my mom through her illness has been a really interesting challenge. I'm learning a lot about myself, and about her, and about how we are very different people, at least in how we face difficulty. I am a person who gathers as much information as possible, and asks every question she can think of, and tries to eke out some semblance of control. My mom just relinquishes control entirely. She dwells in a place of fear and ignorance (real, literal ignorance -- not stupidity, you understand -- actual *choosing to not know things*) that I would find absolutely intolerable. I find it very nearly intolerable just to know that *she* is existing in this place. However, this seems to me to be my chance to learn how to tolerate the intolerable. Her doctors are kind, smart, compassionate people. They are keeping *me* informed, and they are not going to let *her* do (or not do) anything that will harm her. Therefore, her choice to remain personally uniformed, however uncomfortable it makes me, is not harming her, and I need to learn to let go. Can I just tell you that this is easier said than done?

As I deal with my mother's illness, and as I deal with *her* dealing with her illness, I find myself missing my father more and more. I didn't expect this to happen; it never really occurred to me that it might happen until I started noticing it. I'm finding it a little hard to bear some days. Yesterday I had an epiphany; unfortunately, my epiphany has been making me feel like a bit of a bad person. Here goes: if I'd gotten to pick one parent, I'd have picked my father. I think some of my frustration with my mom is because she's not him, which, of course, is not her fault. It's also utterly irrational; he was fifteen years older than her, and had treated his body horribly over the years -- he was lucky to live to 72. So there's no way in hell she was going to die first. It's just, well, sometimes if I'd call and she wasn't home, he and I would have the best talks on the phone. We were getting closer as I was getting older, and some of the stupid, broken, painful crap from when I was younger was getting more distant. And then he had to go and die. He's not here to help with taking care of my difficult, frustrating mom (who's the woman *he chose*, not a woman I'd have chosen), and he's not here to talk to me when I want to talk to him, and dammit it all to hell, I'm 33 years old and I want my damn Daddy.

Posted by Rose at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)

May 20, 2005

As long as we keep our stride, I believe we'll be fine

I may never go back to the gym!

No, I haven't given up because of the shin splints. I am babying my legs a little bit, though; I skipped the last hour of dance classes last night, and I haven't run in a couple of days. Instead, I've been walking a lot. In Prospect Park. Wow!

Yesterday was perfect.

I put on my running gear, had a look in the mirror, and thought, "Someone who hadn't seen me since I took up running would walk right past me on the street and never recognize me!" I looked like any amateur athlete you see in the park: reasonably fit but not strikingly so, wearing a snug black tank top over a running bra, fuchsia yoga shorts, and a baseball cap to shade my eyes. I'd never have been seen in public in such a get-up a year ago.

I walked over to the park and it was an extreme effort to keep myself from running the loop. The walk itself was invigorating (it's about five minutes from my house), the sun was shining, the air was balmy with a faint floral scent. I felt like a big dog straining and begging its master to let it off-leash. When I got to the park I bounced up and down a bit and felt my legs out, I stretched my lower legs in particular, and I just remained unconvinced that it was a good idea. So the leash stayed on and I started off on a walk around the loop. I felt a little sorry for myself as I started walking, and then I got to thinking.

About a year and half ago I was still regularly walking with a cane. Last spring I was thrilled to walk three miles at all, as part of a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation. Yesterday, I was walking over four miles, as the easy version of my workout, due to a completely temporary situation. So I told myself to get a grip. This cheered me up and let me fully enjoy the immeasurable, ineffable beauty of the morning. There were a lot of great moments, but one of my favorites? When I came around the last bend of the park, walking past the little lake, and realized that I had no idea if any children had been abducted anywhere in the country, or how many people had been killed in Iraq today. No CNN in Prospect Park!

This morning was a bit more of a test of my committment to walking in the park; it was not only cold and damp outside, it was actively raining. That was fine with me. As my mother often reminded me when I was little, I'm not made of sugar and I'm not about to melt. I did get a bit squishy, though. I loved being out with the other diehards; like the Velveteen Rabbit, I felt as though I was somehow being made Real. On my way to the park I already felt invincible. People were going to work, mincing around puddles, slightly crouched, holding up umbrellas to cover themselves, and there I was, striding along upright, with just a baseball cap to keep the water out of my eyes. I know who was happier.

My shins are still sore, but I'm keeping at stretching them, and I know they'll be okay soon. Now my thighs are sore in an entirely new way, but I'm really enjoying that. You know all those place names in Brooklyn? Prospect Heights? Park Slope? Boerum Hill? Well, let's just say that now I understand how they got those names. Hills. Brooklyn is full of hills. And I love every damned one of them. As Walt Whitman said in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

Brooklyn of ample hills was mine

Posted by Rose at 03:48 PM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2005

There is this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and fly the whole mess into the sea

I'd heard about them; every runner has heard about them. I knew they were something to worry about. But it wasn't really until this past weekend that the evil pain of shin splints decided to visit my very own legs. Fuck.

This month I started taking harder swing dance classes; on Thursdays, I've got three hours in a row. The first night, May 5th, was hard, and the next morning I definitely felt like my knees were trashed, but we'd learned this crazy step called "shorty George" that specifically trashes your knees. The second night, the 12th, wasn't as hard on my legs, and I ran three miles the next morning without too much difficulty. That night we went out dancing for about three hours, though, and we danced pretty much the whole time -- when we weren't "social dancing" we were practicing some steps I'd been having trouble with, and by the end of the night my legs were exhausted.

Saturday morning I skipped running so that we could walk to the greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza. This is a pretty good walk, through Prospect Park, a couple of miles, at least, and noticed my legs were tired, but, you know. I ran three miles Friday morning and danced three hours Friday night -- it was understandable, right? Then Sunday morning, I had a crappy workout. I didn't want to go, then I didn't have much time to run, then I didn't feel great when I was running, and my legs felt twinge-y and weird: the beginning of the problem.

Monday and Tuesday I noticed my legs feeling kind of achy, and I tried to stretch them when I had opportunities, but I also wasn't doing anything too hard to them. Then Tuesday night I went to swing dance practice, and yep, my shins were hurting. Definitely. Then this morning, I ran a mile, and they just felt shitty. I got off the treadmill and used the elliptical machine instead, and felt all fretful.

Argh! I know there are stretches and exercises and things to do to help with this, but I am feeling very frustrated! I really love swing dancing, and I really love running, and it didn't occur to me that they might not mix well with each other! In the short term, I will try not to panic, and I'll try some stretches and ice packs and whatnot. Historically, I'm bad at not fretting, though.

Posted by Rose at 05:49 PM | Comments (2)

May 04, 2005

I'm turning it on, I'm working my legs

Well, I wasn't quite so blissed out as I was on Friday, when I had to drag myself off the treadmill, but today I did it: three miles without stopping. And while I didn't feel exhilaration, I was certainly able to tap into the comfort of physical exertion, and that was rewarding.

Now that I can run three miles, I feel like I can try doing the loop of Prospect Park. I'm feeling a little anxious about it; just as a quarter-mile track is not simply a long treadmill, the running lane around Prospect Park is not simply thirteen quarter-mile tracks laid end to end. For one thing, there are hills! That go both up and down! For another thing, anything I want with me, I have to carry. Jackrabbit Sports has these FuelBelt gizmos that Monica recommended. Seems like a one-bottle version of that would hold just the right amount of crap.

There's no point in stressing about these things, though; I have to start logging road miles, and now is a good time to start.


Postscript: I bought a new pair of shoes at Jackrabbit this weekend! My old pair were Brooks Adrenalines; the new ones are Asics GT-2100s. The run this morning in the new pair felt great; I should probably have gone in a little sooner, but I was trying to game the timing on when I'll need another new pair before the marathon this fall. I was chatting with the guy in the store about how often to replace running shoes, and he said, "Oh, you know, every six months or 3,000 miles." But although I thought, "Huh, that doesn't sound quite right," I didn't say anything, because I couldn't remember the numbers I'd read, and I didn't want to look stupid. Sigh. As a person who hasn't owned a car for almost five years, it took a day and a half before I realized he was making a joke!

Posted by Rose at 04:44 PM | Comments (2)

April 28, 2005

I'm comin' out of my cage and I've been doin' just fine

This morning I wanted to keep running FOREVER! At least for three miles! (^_^) But I had time constraints, so I just did the .25 mile walk, and 2.5 mile run, and .25 mile walk. During the running, though, I just wanted to run and run and run. It's never felt quite like that before.

So. Fucking. Awesome.

I mean, last week, when I did 2.5 miles without stopping for the first time, I was pleased with myself, and it felt good from that point of view, but it was hard. Today wasn't like that at all. Today was zen; today was teetering-on-the-brink-of-orgasm (but not in an annoying way) for about a mile; today was bliss.

I have some Very Deep Thoughts about this, but I've also got a lot of work to do this evening, so I'll just repeat myself again:

DAMN! That was so much fun!

Oh, and just to make this an even better day for living in the moment and fully in my body, I'm going out swing dancing at Frim Fram with Francis.

Posted by Rose at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005

It's gonna be the future soon*

Another new running record to report: yesterday I ran 2.5 miles in a row, huzzah! I'm looking for my first 5K race to run. I had thought I'd do the Club Atletico Mexicano's Prospect Park race on May 8th, but I will be at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival that day!

There's a 5K in Queens on May 14th. That might be the one. I'm very excited to think about entering a road race. That is just not a thing I ever thought I would one day do!

On the downside, I have been feeling the assault of tree pollen. Every year it is horrible, and then a whole year goes by and I forget how horrible it was, and then BOOM! Allergies. At least I am only allergic to trees, and so the horror and misery should be brief.

*and I won't always be this way
when the things that make me weak and strange
get engineered away

[the chorus of a wonderful and catchy song, "The Future Soon," from Jonathan Coulton's recent EP, "Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow".]

Posted by Rose at 04:24 PM | Comments (2)

April 16, 2005

Two miles down, 24.2 to go!

Yesterday I set a new personal running record! I ran two miles in a row without stopping!

This is such an exciting time for me right now with the running, because I can feel myself getting stronger and faster every week. I know that progress isn't always going to seem so obvious, so I'm hoping to be able to hold onto the feeling I have now, of enthusiasm and joy and surprise at my increasing competence and stamina.

Two miles! Lookit me go!

Posted by Rose at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

I set off in search of my forebears, 'cause my forbearance was in need

I may never again hear "Ballad of the Sin Eater" (by my man Ted Leo) without remembering running on my old high school's quarter-mile track in glorious early morning spring sunlight. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

One of the things that helped me stay sane while I was down in Louisiana was exercising; it was such a nice, normal link to my real life back home in Brooklyn. On Wednesday of last week I went to a gym in Gonzales and worked out, because the weather was crappy. On Thursday and Friday, though, I went to the track at East Ascension High School, where I went for the three years before I graduated early.

I was an unwilling athlete in high school, because PE was taught so horribly that it just always made me feel klutzy and awful. I don't actually have particular horror stories about high school gym, but I do remember it with vaguely queasy feelings. Certainly nothing about it felt comforting or calming whatsoever.

Last week, though, that track was my respite. Thursday wasn't really the best run. It was my first outdoor run on a track since I've gotten serious about this (I tried once last year when I'd just gotten started, and ended up mostly walking). A track is not just a very long treadmill! For one thing, it doesn't have a speed control! For another, there is wind! I walked a quarter-mile to warm up, then went out too fast for my first quarter-mile of running, and really just shot my wad—I felt like crap. I ended up having to alternate running and walking laps. So I got in a fair amount of exercise, but it didn't really feel very good at all.

Friday, I went back and it was so incredibly wonderful. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I was on the track by a little before 8am. The temp was just below 60F, and there were only a couple of other folks out. I walked a lap to warm up, and then started running at an appropriate pace; I then ran my first complete track mile. After a one-lap break, I followed up with my second track mile.

As I finished the mile, halfway through the fourth lap, the devil got in me and I decided to sprint. I know objectively that my sprint is simply not the fastest thing going; I'd be surprised if it averaged out to a six-minute mile. But DAMN! How fun is it to go twice as fast as normal? Pretty fucking fun. That last eighth-mile was a blur of blue sky and green trees and green grass and black track and my earbuds flew out and my legs were flying and my arms were pumping and the air was still so sweet and the sun so brilliant as I came around the last bend. Of course, when I slowed up to walk it all off I thought for a moment I might puke. But I didn't.

I walked another lap and my mind wandered among several strands of thought—chief among them the absolute shining wonder of my not only coming willingly to my high school athletic field, but doing so to find solace and emotional strength.

Posted by Rose at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)