Inner Monologue, Outer Wear

The morning began with a clash of titans. A Herculean feat lay before me as the alarm went off, my phone providing some illumination in an otherwise pitch black room. It was 6:15 a.m., and I was going to have to get out of bed if I was going to get my run in before work.

On the other hand, part of me chimed in, imagine how great it would be to just fall asleep again. You could get at least another hour in before having to get up and go to work. Plus, it’s going to be cold out there

These thoughts continued as I dragged myself out of bed, reheated some slightly disappointing overnight oatmeal I made earlier in the week, and sat back in my bed, eating it out of a bowl perched on a borrowed George R.R. Martin book. I have been on a crock pot kick ever since I discovered how easy and tasty Jook is; but took some liberties with Alton Brown’s recipe, which didn’t seem to pan out.

It’s dark now, and it will be just as dark after work. You could go back to bed and run after work, same result.

A fair point, although I knew it was getting lighter. In the time it took me to finish my breakfast and don my gloves, shoes, and extra layers, the sun was also getting out of bed and starting to do its job. By the time I had finished my stretches, light was starting to filter into my living room. By the time I was outside, it was bright enough to avoid most of the frost which had formed overnight.

It may have been lighter, but it was still really cold. As I hit the Sisyphus hill, I started wondering if this was how cars felt when forced to start going from the cold. All of my joints felt padded, like I was getting 10 percent less out of them. The breath froze in my throat. My ears burned as my knit cap started slipping up and off of them. I regretted not wearing a scarf, and was already starting to think about turning around and going home.

I pressed on, and eventually my combination of body heat and proper attire (two layers of socks: key) caught up with me.

At the end of the day, I made it as far as I did on Monday, feeling a little like I could have gone for another block or so, but still satisfied–pushing yourself is for when you have time and it’s not so cold, my ignored inner monologue added bitterly. I was inclined to agree.

Throughout all of this, my mind remained largely blank. A relief, as my return to the house signaled a return to reality. The stresses and disappointments of the past weeks quickly overtook the otherwise pleasant sensation of finishing a run.

I sat on the T, feeling like I had started my day with a cocktail of one part arctic vacation, and one part addictive substance–and that I was now disappointed with the what was left. While there are worse things to be a junky for, it does worry me when I start using anything for escapism.

Shirt of the Day: Long-sleeved grey shirt. Boring.
Today’s Odd Pickup: Key item, a Cryo Tag? (Will likely learn its purpose in a later mission.)

Mythed Connections

I am reminded of Sisyphus, as I run up one of the taller hills along my stretch of Comm Ave. The Greek myth of a king punished to an eternity of rolling a massive boulder up a hill, only to have it slip away and return to the ground before he hits the top. While I may be engaged in a far less futile task, and I’m at least a lot more honest than he was, I am starting to empathize.

It has been a week since I ran last. This means hitting the road is going to be tougher than last time. The boulder I will have to roll is my own lazy ass.

The stiffness in my ankle was more or less gone, taking a week off seemed to be a good call. Chatting with a friend in the physical therapy racket over a few drinks also gave me a couple more stretches to try out–ones that are probably more helpful than the ones I was making up. All in all, I was ready to hit the road at 9 a.m. this morning.

Leaving had been a bit of a struggle. My morning trip through Facebook and a handful of IMs were so distracting, even after I was dressed in running shoes and fold-back fingerless mittens. So, I was out of the house by 9:15. But, Sisyphean metaphors aside, I was still out there, and I was still rolling myself up the hill.

It was far warmer than past weeks, but the wind was still hitting my face just so, such that no matter how many fingers my gloves had, it was a challenge to keep tears streaming down my face. I was aiming to do the shorter loop, and I had half of a mission left over from giving up too soon the last time. I had shaken the Greek myths from my head by the time I was passing the Reservoir, wondering whether the track would be clear next time I headed out.

Energy was running out as I was a couple of blocks away from my street, but I was determined to at least get to my T stop, off of Beacon Street before I let myself slow down. The Zombies, Run mission ended, after I listened to the final moments of a man of indeterminate accent telling his lady to remember him like that night in the barn. Not sure whether it was the road noise, or an Australian/Irish/some part of England dialect that was making him hard to really understand.

Pushed myself just a little further, and came to a rest on the far corner of my block. A couple of minutes’ walking would have me home.

All in all, I did better than I expected to after a more sedentary week.

Shirt of the Day: Long-sleeve NES controller (Material’s halfway between a T-shirt and a sweatshirt. Let’s call it a ‘Sweatee’)
Today’s Odd Pickup: Transmitter from another camp (and a man of indeterminate accent in my ears)

An Unsure Rest

For anyone who has been going, “hey, I seem to recall that snarky running fellow from Boston. I wonder where he went,” here’s what’s up.

Over the last few weeks, my ankle has been stiff. Even on my trip to Virginia and back. Generally, it hadn’t been interfering with my life, or more importantly, my running. When I got up on Monday, it felt like the stiffness had moved up the ankle. So, I decided to give it a day off.

Tuesday, the Northeast was hit by a snowstorm, and the stiffness was still lingering.

That voice that wants me to get out there and run begrudgingly said, “Fine. Maybe you should wrap it and take the week off.”

I noted that I had taken a few days off when I thought I had shin splints, which seemed to help both my legs and the voice of exercise.

Before backing down, it added, “Monday’s going to kind of suck. Suit yourself!”

So, here’s looking to Monday.

Talking Down To Myself

By the time I have gotten to work, I have largely shaken it off. In fact, the warmth of the shower helped to wash most of the sensation clean.

I ran in the morning, nearly first-thing, but didn’t make it as far as I wanted. As I am picking out clothes for the day, I am feeling fairly down on myself about it. I am back in Boston, and back on the hills and peaks of Commonwealth Ave. The cold and extra layers were duking it out for my body heat.

I was coming down Beacon Street, starting to feel some stomach pain (I had yet to eat breakfast), and some knee pain, and I just… stopped. I turned a corner and got off the main street, and slowed to a walk. I had a million excuses, needing to get back in time for work, the leg pain, my ankle’s continued stiffness. But, at the end of the run, I felt like I copped out.

Whether or not that’s the case, I am not entirely certain. I think that’s where the self-doubt got a foothold. Then, the unsatisfied exercise voice chimed in that I hadn’t done enough.

I have some apprehension about this voice. It’s new, not one I have really had before I started running. But, it seems to be more born of determination than of self-doubt. Of trying to reach a goal, than of trying to tear myself down.

When I gave up, the mission was no more than halfway done.

Shirt of the Day: Atari Entertainment Systems
Odd Pickup of the Day: A Scrap of Newspaper.

Driving Voices

“On your way back, can you grab the mail?” My step-mother asks as I’m walking out the door.

“Sure! If I remember.”

“If not, we’ll send you back out,” she says with a laugh.

I close the front door behind me, put my earbuds in, and head up the driveway, past the mailbox. I have two things to remember today: the mail, and waving to my audience as I pass (per my sister’s joke/request). I head up the street and catch the final vignette from the mission I hadn’t finished when I left. Basically, I needed another two minutes on the run. Radio mode takes over and I just listen to the music and banter.

As I finish my first circuit of the street (i.e., running to the end, turning around, then running around the cul-de-sac; lather, rinse, repeat). I get a text from my sister: You’re not waving. I grumble, fumble with my phone, and shot back that I waved both times I passed the house.

She replies, “wave when you get to the gold car.”

I don’t really see one when I’m making my next pass, until I notice a gold SUV parked in someone’s driveway. Not the most obvious landmark, but I throw my arm in the air and wave. My sister shoots me a text saying they saw me, and I later learn that my step-mom was waving back, and my sister was laughing. The audience participation was good.

I carry myself through nearly four laps of the street, before calling it a day. Just shy of 3 miles in all. At this point, the voice of determined exercise says I can call it a day. It is strange to feel that voice, if nothing else because it has largely replaced the voice of self-doubt. I still hear that one, but more rarely these days. Although, I am not sure how I feel about this voice–on one hand, it is getting me out for a run; but on the other, it is disappointed when I don’t go. Having had an iffy relationship with voices of disappointment in the past, I am not sure how this one will turn out.

I am musing on this as I make another pass of the cul-de-sac. I get a Facebook message from a friend–one of the advantages of using the TuneBelt is that it’s harder to look at, and respond to, my phone’s non-running functions. I decide to make one more pass, call it a day, and reply to my other messages.

On the way back, having remembered to wave each time, I also remember to snag the mail. I walk in, with that voice satisfied and my legs only feeling a little like rubber. I managed to add about another quarter mile to what I did the other day.

Nerdy Shirt of the Day: HankCo, Venture Bros.
Odd Pickup of the Day: Sports Bra. Not because I can’t wear them, but because who would lose them in a zombie apocalypse?

A New Stage in a New State

Riding in the car from the airport, a sad realization hits me: I don’t have my TuneBelt and headphones. If I want to run in Virginia, I will be relying on my much maligned earbuds.

Yesterday and Friday, let’s be honest, I was making excuses. Not very good ones, mind. But, they meant I wasn’t out for a run when I wanted to be. Of course, Wednesday was the heart of the chill  over Boston. It was almost too cold to run. I was no where near dressed the part.

In other words, my last real run was nearly a week ago.

Following a plane ride, and some time taking down the Christmas tree and catching up with my family here, I laced up my shoes and set out for my first run in another state. Up and down my father’s street, was the plan. I was just hearing the end of the Zombies Run mission description, and was already panting. The difference a couple of days off, and a few off days makes, apparently.

Unlike Boston’s below-freezing temperatures for the last few weeks, Virginia was in the high 40s. The sky was bright and clear. The approach up the end of the street, I am heading up a slow, level decline, and I am feeling a little out of sorts. I’m still waiting for my limbs to warm up, and fiddling constantly with my headphones. The former happens with time, the latter never stops. At the head of the street, I turn around and head back toward my father’s place.

I know that my sister, step-mother and father are in the sunroom on the front of the house, and that they can see the street. I feel, for the first time, like I have an audience while I am running. For as long as the house is in my eye line, I pick up my knees, try to put on a good show. Once the house is hidden by some trees, my pace and stature returns to… normal. I make my turn at the cul-de-sac, and head back the way I came.

I do this three and a half more times.

When I am done, the moon is up, and the sky is about the same deep blue of my shirt. The house is at about the midpoint of the street, and after passing on my third pass, I have satisfied that voice in me that pushes for a run. I get a text from my sister, who says they can’t see me anymore, as the sun has started to set. I hastily Swype in a reply that I am on my way back.

2.6 miles, three and a half laps. Feeling good, but also can’t stop coughing now that it’s over. Sincerely hoping I didn’t bring a cold with me to visit.

Shirt of the Day: Bluth’s Banana Stand
Today’s Odd Pickup: A baseball bat
(just because the game seems to be set in England, and baseball isn’t all that popular)

10 Tips on Sticking with a Fitness Routine

10 Tips on Sticking with a Fitness Routine

Via Boston.com. 

Came across my Facebook feed. In a way, I have done my own version of a few of these. They’re not bad ideas, certainly. I just find that, in all things, your mileage may vary. I used to find advice like this daunting; I never felt like I was doing it right.

When I started this little project, I apparently decided to do things my way. I hadn’t really realized until now, but it was with a little advice from a friend, and some pig-headed determination, and little else that I set out to start. First, it was five-minute cardio exercises, then it was the Couch to 5k. 

What I’m saying is, the most important piece of advice I can give to anyone struggling to keep their new year’s resolutions is: do what works for you. You can do it, but first you have to find a way to make it your own.

Terrible Excuses

Out of My Head

Terrible Excuses

Yesterday, snow fell and conditions were iffy. I spent the afternoon at work, and still hit my step goal.

Today, well, It wasn’t cold. It wasn’t really that bad out at all. I just ran out of time.

Tomorrow, we’ll see. I am heading to Virginia to visit my father, and will have a few runs in their weather. We’ll see how that goes.

 

Shirt of the Day: Trust Me, I’m the Doctor.
Odd Pickup: None. 

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Terrible Excuses

Terrible Excuses

Yesterday, snow fell and conditions were iffy. I spent the afternoon at work, and still hit my step goal.

Today, well, It wasn’t cold. It wasn’t really that bad out at all. I just ran out of time.

Tomorrow, we’ll see. I am heading to Virginia to visit my father, and will have a few runs in their weather. We’ll see how that goes.

 

Shirt of the Day: Trust Me, I’m the Doctor.
Odd Pickup: None. 

Freezing Machines

Cold breezes skip across my toes, seeping in through the thin mesh across the top of my shoes. My legs are trying to warm up with each step down the hills of Beacon Street, but not getting there. Breezes cut through my two layers of shirt, and in the seams of my gloves. As I take in deep gulps of frigid air, my head starts to hurt. Am I…? I am. I am getting brain freeze from running.

Along with icy breaths, I am also swallowing my statement about saying all I have needed to say about running in the cold.

I feel underdressed. I should have worn a hat. I should have worn another layer of pants. Perhaps even a microfleece shirt instead of a short- and a long-sleeved T-shirt. I should have done a lot of things, I think to myself as I reach a major intersection.

What I should really do, I tell myself, is head home. It’s too cold for me today. Instead of crossing the street, I turn to take a long route home.

On the plus side, my album choice is oddly appropriate for the Zombies mission. I am going on a toy run for the township in the game while listening to the Aquabats. The mission comes to an end, although I have long since stopped. The ice in my throat has made it painful to breathe, and to run. I have given up, and am going to walk home.

Always feels bittersweet when this happens. On the one hand, I haven’t completed the run to my own satisfaction. On the other, I at least tried.

At least I haven’t fallen on my ass this time.

Shirt of the Day: Villainous Victorian Velociraptor
Odd Pickup of the Day: Dungeons and Dragons rip-off (Key item)