It’s been a while. Again. (Is this the way it’s going to go? Write an ‘Oh, yeah – I should update this thing more often’ post, then wander off for a few… MONTHS? … No. No it’s not. I don’t think. Well, maybe. But no. I’m -totally- not going to do that. Again. Seriously, this time. Probably.)
I’ve started running. That is, I’m not running AT THE MOMENT. But more, in general. Three times a week, sometimes four. I run 3 and a half to 4 and a half miles at a time. I run pretty fast, for a guy my size/age/pudding-to-muscle-ratio. And I’ve come to almost, sorta, not-exactly like it, sometimes. I have apps to help me. Because, why let something be simple when you can complicate it with technology and doodads and gewgaws and miscellaneous, assorted rigamarole? I have apps that tell me when to run, how long to run. I have apps that tell me how fast I’ve gone, how fast I should be going, how many calories I’ve burned and apps that tell me a story while I run my pudding-ish ass off. Not only that, but then these apps let me SHARE my ‘progress’ with anyone who has the misfortune of being on my Facebook friendslist. The poor saps.
Why did I start running? Well, partly because I was (and still am, though to a lesser degree) kind of a fat bastard. But that’s only part of it. I’ve been a fat bastard for quite some time without it driving me to put on ridiculous clothing and paddle myself around and around the neighborhood for miles and miles. I wasn’t exactly -cool- with being fat, but I’d reached a point of equilibrium between the shame of my fatness and the energy required to correct it.
Then I went on a field trip with my daughter.
It was an overnight field trip to a local camp set up as an environmental education center. The field trip was great – had lots of fun, made new friends of the parents there. But the trip ended with a hike up Goose Rock – a more or less straight climb up the side of a steep hill. And I mean steep.
See, I was partnered with a neighbor of mine who just happens to be a Navy Corpsman. A medic to you non-military types. On the occasion of the hike, Rick (That’s his name, Rick the Corpsman. He has business cards, and t-shirts and things. I had no idea it was such a growth industry.) took the back of our pack of fifth-grade boys, and I took the lead.
Well, I wasn’t in the lead for very long. The boys (or most of them), being small, spry, young, and fit in ways only children can be, raced ahead of me and rapidly disappeared. I gamely pursued, but after about five minutes I got tired. After ten I got scared. Not that the kids were lost, but that I just might have need of Rick’s professional services before I got to the top of that rock.
The safe thing, at that point, probably would have been to stop, sit down, and wait until the tunnel vision and tingling extremities had passed. Of course, I didn’t -DO- that. I may not be the manliest man in the world, but I have enough machismo to make THAT sort of wisdom antithetical to my way of thinking.
Luckily, I made it to the top without medical intervention. But once my eyes had cleared and I could think without the fog of imminent unconsciousness clouding my mind, I was ashamed and embarrassed and afraid in a whole different way. My kids are young. I’m not -that- old, but I’m old enough that there is a very real possibility that, if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be around to see them get to my age. And I’d very much like to see how they handle their 40s. And 50s and 60s, for that matter.
So I started running. And let me tell you – it was HARD. And not just physically, though that was difficult enough. After a few weeks, the physical hardship became manageable. It was the mental hardship that was difficult to manage. Every time I went out, I’d spend an ungodly amount of my time wrestling with my own mind. Excuses to stop running bubbled up constantly, reasons why running was a terrible idea, why I should just wait until -tomorrow-, just take it easy this one day.
I wrestle with it even now, after three months of regular, successful running. Less, these days. Mostly. But it’s still there. I’m better at pinning it down and shoving it in the corner where it can’t do much harm, but it still mutters away there, and probably always will.
I came to realize something, though: Running is a lot like writing, that way.
It took me all day to get around to writing this entry. Even once I’d started, I deleted and started over half a dozen times.
See, with running, I have apps, technology, my own wheezing, panting fatness to drive me forward, remind me that running is worth doing. There are no apps to tell me to start writing. No technology to tell me that I’m making progress, that what I’m doing is -effective-. There’s just me.
Except that there’s also -you-.
If you’re reading this – Thanks. And if you’re reading this, I’d like to ask you a favor. Keep me honest?
I’ll do my best to keep going, because I want to, because I should, and because it’s a good idea. If you’re reading this, give me a nudge now and then. It won’t go amiss.
Thanks. And you’re welcome. And whatever you do…