Saturday, March 05, 2011

Greetings from beautiful Clarks Summit, PA

And the annual virtual run to Toronto continues....For anyone keeping track, at the end of two months, I’ve run just over 80 miles.

That puts me in lovely Clarks Summit, Pa, which I have actually visited in my lifetime. That trip is a little vague now – an increasing circumstance as I grow up – but more than 20 twenty years ago, I think I had a client there and went on a business call to visit them. I don’t remember what their business was (it had something to do with woodworking) or who was more stunned; me – that I had driven to such a teeny little town to see them; or them – that I had driven to such a teeny little town to see them.

My regular disclaimer about the running and my goal this year applies: to anyone who does a quick and easy 20 miles or more a week, this total represents little more than baby steps. I acknowledge that and salute your fitness and commitment. But this past month was a bit more challenging than I imagined: It was about 17 degrees outside and our treadmill at home was out of commission for pretty much the entire month. The guy from Sears came to assess the damage one Saturday and spent 30 minutes confirming what we knew when we called: it was broken. It took another week for parts and another two weeks before he was back to fix it.

I was not long deterred. I have the very good fortune to work at a company with a fully appointed fitness center available to employees and that fact was never more welcome than this past month. Despite many (many) years of absence, I was welcomed back like the prodigal daughter. (One of the T-shirts I wore one evening brought back memories for the fitness center director. We determined it was vintage 1997 or ‘98.) Bottom line: I hopped on a treadmill after work a few nights a week and on Saturday mornings to keep my commitment to the Toronto run throughout the month.

I’ve learned the following: very, very rarely do I feel entirely fabulous throughout the entire run. There is inevitably a moment – or several – where I say: Stop. Just stop. That’s it.

Or this: Really? All that effort and it’s only been 9 minutes! Twenty-one more to go? I’m doomed.

Or this: You really don’t have another 1.7 miles in you today. You really don’t. It’s been a rough day. Quit now and call it a run.

I also learned this: when you run on a treadmill with a past winner of the Boston marathon running on the one beside you, you feel like you’re running underwater and he has wings on his heels. (He’s a delightful person – this was all my perception, I assure you.)

Thing is: I didn’t ever quit a run. I suspect the next lesson had something to do with it.

I learned this: TV is good but music is better. I am perfectly content to wander into our basement a few times a week and settle in for a 5K with Jack and Abby and Adam as my witnesses. And tell myself things like this: during the commercial, you’ll sprint and then back off again during the show. Or during the summation to the jury you can run another ½ mile an hour faster.

Basement bonus: at the end of every run, I throw darts. Only one round, one after the other, without a ton of technique. Correction: with no technique at all. I’ve hit the bulls-eye once, although not dead center. But I’m getting better.

When I ran to music over the past month, I found the song-size components that made up the distance the perfect way to mix up the pace. And even at the end of the run – even when I was well past 3 miles (I know. Unbelieveable, right?) – a really energetic song would create a burst of energy.

Music bonus: I listened to my boys sing. How does it get better than that? Encouraging words from my sons while I ran awkwardly and with little grace a few nights a week. Throw in a little Treme soundtrack, a little Godspell, some U2, Bruce, Stones and La Boheme. And there it is: another day, another 5K done on the record.

Onto March.


Falstaff Wannabe said...


renee said...

Well, thank you very much, Falstaff!!

Stay tuned - I may find myself mired in north central PA and need a boost of encouragement...

Mo said...

What is this thing you speak of called "exercise'?...It is foreign to me.
lol...I wish I had your motivation! Mo

renee said...

Thanks for your comment, Mo. Truthfully, the motivation emerged from the most basic source: getting older. And not wanting to get older and feel older as well.

So there it is: hitting that "new forty" number a little while ago; realizing I didn't have to feel like I was hit by a bus, and starting to make some changes.

Then again, I'll believe this of myself at the end of December. Until then, it's anyone's guess.

Anonymous said...

My friend Sharon directed me to your post a few weeks ago about being wise... I really enjoyed it. Checked in again today, and continue to find your postings interesting and enlightening. [Perhaps having cousins in Clarks Summit - actually Clarks Green, PA peaked my attention!] Thanks for writing.

renee said...

Thanks for your initial- and your return - visit to the blog! (Love that Sharon shared it with you.) And thank you for your kind words about the writing.

I hope you'll continue to check in from time to time and share your feedback as well.