Friday, March 30, 2012

Once a runner, always a runner

(Me running today)

I started running in 2000 when I was in graduate school. I was literally trying to out run my stress. It felt good to punish my betraying brain with too much blood and not enough air.

I've been a runner ever since. Actually, I ran today for the first time since my back went out at the beginning of 2007. That seems like such a long time. In the meantime, I've spent a lot of time on the elliptical (so much easier on the back and knees) and doing low impact physical therapy, yoga, Nia and fast walking. No matter what I do, it doesn't rival that burn and full body cardio workout from running.

I've tried to run a few times since we lived in Oregon, but then I look out the window and decide the weather isn't cooperating. Well, the other day I was out double digging the garden bed in the back yard and it started raining. I wasn't done with my digging yet so I kept digging in the rain. I was listening to Talking Heads and digging a giant mud pit in my backyard. It was exhilarating. Before I knew it was done digging and just dancing in the backyard in the rain to my favorite songs. I know I looked like a maniac, but I don't care. How long has it been since you danced in the rain? It had been too long for me, I know that much.

That also got me to thinking about how great of an exercise running is. I mean once you have all the gear (footwear, socks, goofy running pants with reflectors, bright windbreaker jacket, sweatband for the head, etc) it's a pretty cheap and convenient way to work out. My favorite thing about running, and why I have done it in so many random places, is that you can just put on your trusty running shoes and take off. Run 15-20 minutes in any direction and then turn around and go back. That's probably 4-5 miles.

Also, Rolling Stones Forty Licks Album 1 is THE.BEST.RUNNING.MUSIC. Nothing like a little Jagger in your running swagger ;-)

As I was running today, I started thinking of all the places I've used running as a get away or a way to get around. Here are the most memorable ones (in chronological order):
  • Keisel Park - Auburn Alabama -- This is where it all began.
  • Humboldt County, CA -- My absolute favorite -- running up old logging roads through the magnificent redwoods and down in the fern valleys, at the beach, and in my neighborhood.
  • Sacramento, CA -- Living in the Vagabond Hotel, training to get my California Health and Welfare insurance license so I could sell supp insurance door to door. The best part was running up, down and across the Sacramento River.
  • Monterey, CA -- In dusty fruit and vegetable fields, selling insurance to people who didn't speak English. Had to run each night to try to figure out if what I was doing was right.
  • Durham, NC -- Ran around the Duke University south campus. Pretentious doesn't even begin to describe that crowd.
  • Texas -- Got lost running in a dizzying maze of suburban neighborhoods and almost dehydrated before finding help one time. Also spent lots of time running the Los Colinas canal area when I lived in Valley Ranch -- can't remember the name of that park except I was always afraid a water moccasin would come out of the canal, chase me down and eat my dog.
  • North Hollywood, CA -- One of my last runs before the mysterious back failure that would plague me for the next 5 years (and maybe the rest of my life).
  • Oregon -- First run in years. Ran 40 minutes without stopping. Muscle memory is pretty amazing, especially when it's doing things you want it to!

After my run today, I finished it off with a yoga meltdown. No, not a cool down, but a melt down. My muscles just gave way to the dynamic stretching of yoga. I love that my "old faithful" (running) and my "new love" (yoga) compliment each other so well.

I'm going to be running a lot more now that the temperature is starting to rise. It felt good.

Once a runner, always a runner.

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