Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone

Shortly after winter set into New England last year, I stopped running outdoors. The family I worked for had a StairMaster in the basement, so I switched. I figured it would be excellent cardio training, and I wouldn't have to brave those shoulderless, slick Connecticut roads on foot. Then spring arrived, and with it the realization that if I were to run outdoors, I would acquire the runner's tan I got every summer, regardless of my vigilant application of SPF 70 water-and-sweatproof sunblock. During a normal summer it was just funny; during the summer preceding my wedding, for which I'd be wearing a strapless dress, it was unacceptable. So I kept it indoors. When I returned to Kansas City, I joined a gym that had a StairMaster, and until two weeks ago, I remained a member. I could have resumed running, and wanted to, half-heartedly anyway, but my lack of satisfaction over routes available near my home coupled with my need for new running shoes kept me gym-bound.

And then there came spring. Higher gas prices. Tedium at the gym. Some gym employee that really enjoyed Cher. The monthly expense that I couldn't justify when the weather was so nice. And so it happened that I canceled our membership and bought some running shoes. We both started bicycling more. I left the shoes in the box, thinking bicycling would be enough for now.

For many reasons, it wasn't. I couldn't get up to the level of exertion that makes me feel like I've gotten a good workout. I spent too many of those rides on the way to and from places to get snacks. The five pounds of winter weight that normally fall off as soon as I shed my winter coat stuck around. I had trouble sleeping. It just wasn't enough. A couple of nights ago, in the midst of persistent insomnia, I felt a familiar sensation. It was the sensation of needing to run.

When I lived north of the Plaza, there was a route I used to run that I loved. It's seven miles round trip, safe, hilly, familiar, comfortable. It's an out-and-back, with the turn around point not so far from where I live now as to be unreasonable to drive to, except in the sense that it seems ridiculous to me to have to drive somewhere in order to run. But I don't live now where I lived back then, and it was drive and run or deal with running in my neighborhood, which, NOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. I drove to the nearest parking lot and parked. Stashed my bag under the seat, fiddled around with my keys until they felt comfortable in my hand, and took off running.

I'd love to say it was glorious, that it was one of those runs that was pure magic, that every felt good and right and perfect. In reality, it was okay. I made it all seven miles without walking, which is what I wanted out of the deal. I had to stop to rearrange my shoelaces on my right shoe several times, having neglected to compare the lacing of my new sneaks to that of my old. I struggled a bit on some of the uphills, and my right hamstring was not very happy on the last mile. It was...normal. Some runs are magic, true, but some runs completely suck, and this was neither. I can live with that. I will live with that, three times a week, all summer, and hopefully into the fall and through the winter. Some of those runs will undoubtedly suck.

But then, some will be pure magic.

It's good to be back.


Shiz said...

Congrats! How long does your 7-mi route typically take you when in the habit?

markbe said...

" wasn't." But did you take it off any sweet jumps? Bomb any 3+ trails? Run from the cops? Any one of those will get your exertion level/heart rate moving. :)