9 of 52: You Can’t Run Home Again

But you can run from your parents house to your grandmothers house! I’ve done it before and I did it again this past weekend. I mean – you can probably also run to your old home but it might be awkward when you get there seeing as how you don’t live there anymore.

Being home for the holidays is always restorative for me. Seeing people and being in places that have been with me since my earliest years always provides me with a renewed sense of self. A reminder that I am indeed – me. My grandmothers house has smelled the same to me literally since I was born. The voices of my aunts and uncles once and twice and three times removed have not changed.

My memories are in those people and places so when I hear them talk and walk through those places my oldest memories are evoked – not always specifically – but in a way that just awakens the many people I have been over the years. I like that feeling.

I was hoping to run a local half marathon while I was in LA for the holidays simply because I’ve never run a race in California. As it turned out I couldn’t find a race during the time I would be there so I ran from my parents house to my grandmothers house. I remembered making this same run during training for my first marathon in 2010. I remembered really enjoying it because I would run a route that I had only ever travelled by car before. I still get a kick out of doing this and I still get a kick out of looking at signs on the freeway and thinking “I could run there from here.”

There was a wrinkle this time.

Sunday: I picked up a little upper respiratory tract infection on the flight from BWI to LAX (though I wouldn’t know this until Wednesday).

Monday (Christmas Eve): I ran but came back thinking “that was much harder than it should have been.”

Tuesday (Christmas Day): Fever

Wednesday: Fever + “Oh crap – I have to run Saturday. Lemme Google whether or not I should run with a fever. Nope. I should definitely not run with a fever.” I decided to get to urgent care to find out what’s what. I got my diagnosis, some steroids and a coughing pill to take care of my new hack-a-thon hobby. (BTW – I hate coughing. It makes my head hurt and it’s just generally really annoying. I really need some quality time with a therapist to unravel my irrational hate of coughing… and printers… and also inconsistent bluetooth connections…)

Thursday: My fever breaks – the cough pills do zero for my cough.

Friday: No fever at all. Still coughing like I swallowed half a raisin cake and a half dozen gingerbread people in one sitting for Christmas breakfast. Oh wait…

So on Saturday, even though I was still coughing pretty bad, I decided to run. I did ask the doctor about it and he said as long as the fever was gone that I’d probably be okay, Just to listen to my body. So I took that and ran with it. Literally.

The Run

I set up Live Track on my Garmin Connect app so my family could track me and potentially spot if things went south and come get me. I didn’t think it would come to that plus I had my phone, but I had wanted to try out live track for awhile and this seemed like as good a time as any.

About 10 minutes into the run, my phone dropped signal and Live Track stopped working. I had no idea. About 12 minutes into my run – as I’m making my way up a half mile 7% incline, I got a text from my dad. SO I’m on this hill – breathing with half a lung and I see his text on my watch saying that it looked like I stopped.

Live Track was “working.”

This thing goes on for about a half mile.

When I reached to top of the hill, I pulled the phone from my pocket and let him know I was feeling good.

About 6 miles in I noticed that I had not coughed in awhile and my breathing felt better than it had in days. I love running.

As I ran past my parents old apartment building it struck me how close they lived to my grandparents at the time. My dad had just been showing my oldest their old budget from that time. Rent was about $130 a month! I would love that rent right about now… We drive by all the time but passing by on foot is different. I took a picture and a closer look that I usually do, trying to guess which apartment would have been theirs.

Running past my folks old apartment. I stopped to get a closer look.

I love the parks around where they live (there are many) and I had a chance to take a detour through one, enjoying the large horse trails and eucalyptus trees. I finished the run through an old park my brother and sister and cousins and I would play in as children.

Eucalyptus – my favorite tree (so far)

I loved the freedom of that park. We could walk down without any adults and just run from end to end, dropping sticks or leaves into the creek and ‘racing’ one another all the way for what felt like hours.

I ran again – from end to end – in the same time machine I hop into every time I’m there. It seemed much smaller now of course, but what’s more is that I realized the more I visit this place as an adult, the less of it I remember as a child. I suppose that’s true of everything else to some degree. The people, the voices, the places, the smells… though my sensory responses run much deeper than just memories.

It made me think about my life looking forward, reinforcing that the only way for me to feel “myself” again was to keep moving, to live, and to let time do what it does best. Pass.

Next Week: My respiratory infection get’s an upgrade…

8 of 52: Running the Spiderverse

36 Hours Earlier…

Palak Paneer can safely be added to the list of food I should not eat the night before a run.  More on that later. (But not too much more).  Also – eating a healthy amount of movie popcorn – while supremely satisfying – just prior to running is also not a good idea.

I know – rookie.

I should know better.  I’ve been running long enough to know that you don’t run alone without ID and money. (Cash money).  Long enough to know not to trust anything your body says in the first mile of a run.  Long enough to know that yeah – I can get home from the movie at 1:40, run 13.1 miles and make it home in time to eat, shower, and pack a dinner to make it to a 5 pm call time.

When you pack your own lunch you get to choose.

And yet…

So the question is why?  Why did I do these things?  The answer is simple.  I picked this goal because, while challenging all together, it is meant to focus my week to week planning and consistency – not take over my life.  So when it’s time to order out Indian because the spirit moves you – that’s what you do.  When you’ve ben craving Movie popcorn all week and the time you make to see the movie is just prior to your run – eh.  It’s a whole grain…

Now sometimes the run helps to serve as something to temper my decisions, but I think it’s just as valuable to let these other things win from time to time.  That’s what balance is all about.

I did have an opportunity to run with friends earlier but it would have meant me getting up at 5, running for 7 miles on my own in the dark in order to make it to family breakfast (oh – another food event…) and I just was not feeling the joy in that so I “slept in” until it was time to head over to the Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market for breakfast.  If you’re in the Annapolis area you should definitely check it out.

No Christmas socks – but ready to play!

So now that you have a sense of the 36 hours preceding the run…

The Run

I took full advantage of the break in rain and beautiful temps.  Coming straight from watching “Into the Spider-verse I downloaded the soundtrack while I changed and then head out the door.  Shorts, lightweight long sleeve shirt, cap and sunglasses, and my new rightly sized shoes(!!).  A few steps into the run it hit me like a wall.

These shoes are BLUE!!

The Wind.

That’s a thing I have not run in in a long time.  I started thinking about that.  How is it possible that I haven’t run in the wind in so long?  It was weird but oddly refreshing.

The plan was simple.  Run 6.55 miles out, turn around and retrace my steps back to home.  And that’s kinda how it went but about 5 miles in my stomach started talking to me.  By the time I hit 6 miles my stomach had escalated to full on berating me for my poor decisions.  I needed to find a building with an unlocked door and plumbing.  Fast.

I thought about it and as much as I didn’t want to, I made a bee line for the swim center taking me to 6.8 miles.  Dangit – I don’t want to figure out the math on this one.  Thankfully they were open and let me in.  While I had some time to think I realized it wasn’t that big a deal.  I would just run back to the point where I bailed and then retrace my steps from there, omitting a short side street I ran on the way out.

Of course after a pit stop like that the rest of the run was glorious.  Maybe it was the sunlight.  Maybe it was because I wasn’t paying for my food choices anymore.  Who am I to say?  But it was nice.  Sunny, pleasant.  Did I mention it was sunny?  Man I missed that Sun.  Even that low lying, aggressive winter sun.  I usually Hate the winter sun – but today we were friends.

I’ve continued running a couple times during the week and eating better so while I’m not blazing fast I felt strong and I pushed a bit in the last mile and a half.  I felt good.  I want to celebrate that and keep that feeling ready to share.

Dirty Laundry

On the way back I was thinking about what I should write about outside of the specifics of the run and I couldn’t decide wether or not to tell the “bad food decisions” story or not.  I mean – it’s kinda personal but hopefully not an overshare if done properly.  If you have run enough miles this has likely happened to you (even if you did make good food decisions the night before) and if it hasn’t – now you know.

I kept hearing “don’t air your dirty laundry” in my head.  I don’t know where I heard it growing up but clearly I heard it enough times from various places that it seemed like a good rule.  At any rate – I started thinking on that and about how I’ve been sharing my ups and downs with depression and thinking about how runs have ups and downs – just like life and also how sharing my experiences with depression might be airing my dirty laundry and how those two things relate to one another.

Here’s my thing – I feel so strongly that talking about depression and grief and suffering in general need to be normal.  Human beings need to feel connected and when we don’t feel like we can share when things aren’t “good” we wind up cutting ourselves off from others just at the time when we need each other the most. 

This is crazy – and leads to deeper depression and more suffering.  Not like I wanna walk around in a world where everyone is Debbie Downer spilling their guts to anyone who will listen.  Not any more than I want to walk around in a world where “Everything is Awesome!” (Unless it is).  I want the truth I guess.  I believe there’s enough of each that everything would be in balance.

So I will continue to share the bad with the good because it helped me SO MUCH to do so but I will also continue to not share the details in this forum.  It’s like saying “Hey!  I have Laundry!!”  Without saying “Hey!!  Look at this stinky sock!!”  There are a number of people in my life who I can share the particulars of my laundry with, people who have either through time or example have told me (by listening) “it’s okay to share your stinky sock with me.  You can trust me and I won’t judge you or try to fix you.  I’m just here for you.” 

But sometimes I need to say – to the world – “HEY! I HAVE LAUNDRY!”  Just to get to a place where I can seek out my inner circle, where I can be safe, and heal.

Next Week: Over the River and Through the …uh Park.  Running to Gram’s House.

7 of 52: Treadmill TV (Half) Marathon

Need I say more?

As convenient and consistent as treadmills are and as many miles as I have spent on them, I really prefer to run on the road. I definitely prefer a trail to a treadmill – as long as its cold enough for all the bugs to be asleep and also not raining. But it has been raining – for the last 324098 days or so – and Saturday was no exception, so I decided to catch up on some TV. And by TV I mean Netflix.

I was an episode away from finishing season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel so that seemed like the place to start. That carried me for a few miles and into a short spell of sadness when I realized there is no season three yet. I wasn’t prepared for that. After I recovered from the news, I turned to season three of Travellers. I had forgotten all about this time-travel-AI-mageddon-save-the-world … uh… sci-fi action drama romance (??) until season three dropped. Needless to say I could not resist.

Spoiler: A drunk teenager broke into the script writers room and typed “halt and catch fire” all over the walls.

The Run

Look at all that Christopher Walkin’

I have no idea how to make this interesting. I ran in the same place for over two hours while staring at my phone (my iPads are so old that Netflix will not work on them anymore). The monotony aside I was excited to be running in some new shoes but as it turns out they were a half size too small and my freakishly long toes got a little banged up. Oops. Fortunately for me I was able to exchange the pretty cool blue size 11.5 for a pair of OHMYGODTHISISBLUE size 12 without any hassle. ARS is cool like that. If you live in the Annapolis area, definitely check them out.

Not the run

My depression has been improving, literally since the moments I wrote about it a few weeks ago (even though I failed to use the word “depression”), so I’ve been working out more during the week. The three day refresh really helped reset my approach to food which dramatically helped my mood and outlook. I’m sleeping better and just generally more productive and able to follow through on thoughts like…

  • Me: “You should eat”.
  • Also Me: Actually eats.
Let me know if you’re interested in the 3-Day Refresh.

This was definitely a week I would have skipped was it not for the fact that I advertised my desire to run 13.1 miles every week this year but between the commitment and the upswing in mood (and plenty of unwatched TV) I was able to choose to follow through. Not everyone gets to do what they want. I’m lucky. It’s a privilege to run – to have access to a treadmill, to have access to entertainment, to be able to trade in shoes that don’t fit even though it was my fault, to be well enough, not injured. This list of things in my favor goes on and on. I am grateful for all of it. I figure the best way to show gratitude for all of it is to run.

Next Week: Threading the needle. Can I run 13.1 miles on a plane?

6 of 52: Anniversary Run 15k (+4mi)

Food hangovers are real…

If you don’t believe me it’s because you’ve never had one. You’ve probably seen someone with one or heard them bellyaching – but you don’t believe us. You judge with your food hangover free past and shake your head in disbelief as you work the last half of a bologna sandwich into your face just before heading out for a run.

It’s OK.  I don’t hate.  I used to be you – in another life.  But I was *not* you this Sunday at the Anniversary Run – the final leg of the Annapolis Striders Champ Series.  (If there’s a better deal in running I couldn’t tell you what it is.  $35 Buys you entry into 8, very well organized and executed races over the course of a year.  Distances ranging from 1 mile to 26.2K.)

The race started at 10AM.  I woke up at 9:15 – mouth dry, head pounding, stomach signaling… “Did I drink last night?  No, dummy – you did not drink.  You haven’t had a drink in over 15 years.  You ate.  You ate like it was your job.  You went to a fancy holiday party featuring foods from around the world and You decided to be the Marco-friggin-Polo of food.”

I think I ate food from (in no particular order). 

  • West Africa
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • Mediterranean

I can’t be sure – everything got a little hazy after the Turkish Delight. (It’s a desert you pervs!  A delicious jelly fudge-like cube of flower flavor dusted in some kind of powdery sugar stuff.  Would eat again.)

Now I can’t blame Katie B., who was nice enough to invite me, but I will just say – she invited me.  Also, she may have encouraged me to study the party flyer and “establish a plan of attack”.  I could of said no – but here we are.  9:15 AM with an elephant on my back who is actively stuffing cotton into my mouth – and 20 minutes to get out the door.

The big difference between this hangover and one from drinking – there is no video of me “getting loose” with the reggae band or singing Karaoke.  Because I didn’t do those things. (Though I wish I had brought my trumpet.)

The Run

This was a 15k (9.4 miles) followed by a few miles after the race.  I had planned to run a couple before and a couple after – but… see above re: Food Hangover.

Annapolis Striders do a great job of keeping these races running like clockwork.  There may not be a DJ or medals and t-shirts, or a fancy expo – but the races are well marked, well supported, well attended, and your friends are there. “But I don’t know any Striders” – that’s okay.  Your friends are there.  Believe me when I say that.  After last week I am even more grateful for these people and what this club has provided.

This race is basically two loops around Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis offering great water views and some small but aggravating hills.  They get steeper on the second loop.

I went out too fast but not so much that I was wrecked for the day.  This past week was a marked improvement for me emotionally over last week.  So much so that I managed a couple strength training workouts and a run during the week prior.  I felt like I had at least “done my part”.  While not “trained”, I was prepared.

After the race I looked around for any willing runners to come with me for some more miles.  Thankfully Brian stepped up and got me moving again for a couple miles.  After about 2.5 miles he peeled of and my legs immediately felt heavier.  The wind was stronger and I swear the temperature dropped about 15 degrees.  Friends are important in this life.

All that being said – 13.1 Miles is beginning to feel like a familiar distance.

Looking Forward

Being that I’m feeling much more myself than I have in awhile – and also that I am still feeling the effects of my steady decline back into eating way more than my body needs – I’m reinvigorating my much healthier lifestyle with a quick three day reboot.  All the right serving sizes of all the right foods plus some supplemental concoctions to get my biome straight(er).

Next Week: Your guess is as good as mine!

Not pictured – about 2334875487 gallons of water.

5 of 52: Choices and Trails – Columbia, MD

This week was a solo run.  No race.  No friends.  Just me and My thoughts.  Here’s a random sampling.

  • Damn its cold
  • Baby it’s cold outside (sung)
  • Glad it’s not raining
  • Where should I run?  I have no idea.
  • What should I write about later?

Don’t judge me.  I don’t always get deep.  Insights cost and 13.1 miles is usually not enough to satisfy the muse.

The Run

This run was on unfamiliar territory in Columbia, MD.  I have driven the roads plenty and know my way around pretty well.  But when it comes to running I don’t really know how to string together 13.1 miles on the fly.  My watch will do this for me (I think) but I didn’t really want to be checking my watch for directions.  I wanted to be paying attention and getting as much into my brain as possible.  I wanted the experience.

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 12.33.56 PMSo I started on the roads thinking I would do an out and back, make as few turns as possible to keep the math (and directions) simple) hoping I wouldn’t get lost if I had to make too many turns.  Fortunately I was not on the road for long.  You see, the Columbia association maintains a VERY extensive pathway system.  114 miles of paved pathways to put a number on it.  Here’s a map if you’re interested.

I reached a dead end on the roads about 2 miles into the run.  As I hoped – this dead end also gave me access to the trails.  Now, I had been seeing trail entrances the whole way and passed them by, not knowing where they went exactly but at this dead end I gave in.  I wasn’t ready to turn around.  I’m so glad I did.

The trails are long.  They’re long if you don’t make any of the turns – and there are MANY, many turns offering an endless number of variations.  I’m in no place for that so I ran to dead ends mostly and picked the direction that looked like it went on the farthest.  Small decisions have been hard for me lately.  I wouldn’t say I’m overwhelmed by them so much as I just can’t seem to make them.

Not the Run

My to do list is growing, my dishes pile up a bit longer than they used to, and generally just pacing around the apartment or getting in the car and not going anywhere because I can’t decide where to go first.  Not the place where I want to be exactly, but here I am.

The running helps this.  But even that – I have not been able to jump start my mid week running and I could feel it on this run.  I need to work out and run during the week or I will injure myself at some point and my brain needs more than one long run a week to stay healthy.  I may be TOO good at rest and recovery.  So I need to take my fitness every day – lest I become buried under a pile of to dos and dishes.

I have always known that running and exercise and eating well were helping me deal with stress and otherwise keeping my head on straight(ish) but I never thought that my mental state would be able to convince me not to do the things I need to do to stay healthy.  I trick myself into running in the early weekend hours by saying “you don’t have to run, you just need to get out of bed.  Just put your feet on the floor.”  SO I guess I can do the same thing daily…  I don’t have to do everything on my list today – all I have to do is get out of bed.

There’s this movie Momento where the main character has short term memory loss and leaves himself notes every day so he can figure out what to do next.  I’m looking at this particular entry like a note to myself – for when my mind drops a blanket over me and lies to me, makes me forget myself and tells me that all I have to do is be still and everything will be ok.

I know you came here for a run report – but hey.  I’m a person and like probably everyone reading this I have some shit to deal with.  Writing this helped me.  Hope that reading it helped you.

Next Week:  Annapolis Striders Anniversary Run 15k (and then some)