I Ran Today

for the first time in almost seven months. Why do I let so much time go by between runs? I wish I knew the answer. I know I need the exercise. I'm uncomfortable in my clothes. I want to wear the clothes in my closet that I love but don't fit anymore. I want to be more comfortable when I drive the car. I still read every running magazine I can get my hands on. I cut out pictures of women running seemingly effortlessly in running clothes I covet and put them on the fridge. I put a newspaper clipping showing Ed Whitlock smiling after a run on the fridge, too, because he's pretty bloody inspiring. I often think about going running, especially when I go to bed. That's when I think I'll just get up, put on my running gear and go for a run as soon as I wake up tomorrow. But it never happens. Or I guess I should say <em>almost</em> never happens because it happened today. I really enjoyed the run this morning. It may have been the weather, a crisp, sunshiny, fall day. Or it may have been the music. I listened to a podcast by Laura Benack called Boogie Shoes Couch to 5k. The music seemed to magically match my stride. It may have been Laura's encouraging words during the run or the theme of the podcast which was all the music was by woman artists. Probably it was a happy accident of all of these things combining, but It was perhaps the easiest run I've ever done. It felt good to be out running again.

I noticed a black squirrel with something in its mouth run onto a lawn and then stop and sit perfectly still. Why do squirrels do that? Do they think by stopping they somehow become invisible? Do they think if they're stopped, they're not worth chasing? Has it worked in the past for this particular squirrel? Are dogs in this neighbourhood easily out-smarted by this behaviour?

My father adds to my rock collection

My father gives me the rock he’s found. “I was walking back to the car,” he says. “After we stopped for lunch. And there it was, right by the front wheel. So I picked it up and brought it to you. I know you like to collect them.” He holds out his hand with the rock sitting in his palm and he smiles at me. I smile back and pick up the rock. It’s sort of shaped like an L, like someone’s cut a chunk out of a cube of rock. It’s pale pink with sharp, jagged edges.

I do collect rocks. It doesn’t matter to me what size the rocks are, but the smoother and rounder they are, the better I like them. Two rocks the size and shape of bowling balls sit beside the planter on the front porch. I found one of them in the Agawa Canyon; it almost went right through the bottom of the canoe when my husband pulled it out of the water.

A jar of rocks sits on the corner of my desk. There’s a bowl of rocks in the centre of the coffee table and a basketful on the back porch.

“Thanks Dad,” I say and put the rock in the bowl. All of the other rocks in the bowl are smooth and round and pale gray. The one he's given me makes it look like someone’s about to play a game of one of these things doesn’t belong, one of these things is not like the others.

This is how my father’s mind works now. He latches onto one word and he remembers that one thing but not its relationship to anything else. He’s remembered that I collect rocks but he has no idea what kind. I wonder if he remembers the hours we’ve spent on beaches or along trails or at the side of the road picking out the one best rock – the smoothest, roundest rock we can find. Sometimes we found rocks that were perfect except they were too big. He’d offer to go home and come back with the truck and shovels and maybe a winch but I’d say, “I worry about the weight in the trunk of my car.” Then I’d pick another rock and say, “This one’s good, this one I can carry. I'll take this one instead.”

Often when I went home to visit there’d be little groups of fist-sized rocks by the front door or the door of the garage or on the steps leading to the screened-in porch. I’d hold them in my hand one by one, finally choosing one and holding it up. “Is it okay if I take this one home?”

He’d say, “Oh, I knew you’d pick that one. Didn’t I tell you,” he’d say to my mother, “that she’d pick that one, that she wouldn’t be able to resist?”

This Morning I Went for a Run

which was the first time I've gone running since September of 2015. I don't know why I don't go running more often. I know all about the benefits of regular exercise -- I read about them all the time in books and running magazines. I enjoy reading about what runners should eat, how they train, how they've overcome some obstacle to be a runner. My favourite bits in the magazines are the ads for the brightly-coloured running gear and the stories of getting fit and losing weight, how running has changed people's lives.

I want running to change my life. So today I re-started the NHS version of the Couch to 5k program and listened to Laura tell me when to run and when to walk. The music has the right tempo for running and the singer sounded sort of like David Bowie. I ran for eight minutes in total which doesn't sound like much but it seems like a lot when you haven't run in over seven months. At one point I felt as if I must be almost finished but Laura said I had three more running segments to do.

I started my first learn to run class in the spring of 2004. I got hooked and ran my first 5k in June that year. I've run in 40 races, the last one in April 2014. Time I got hooked again. I must start looking for my next race.

I started my first learn to run class in the spring of 2004. I got hooked and ran my first 5k in June that year. I've run in 40 races, the last one in April 2014. Time I got hooked again. I must start looking for my next race.

Introducing Felix

This is Felix. He came to live here in mid-November and he has made himself at home. After the holiday bustle we're discovering a new routine. He is a true gentleman of a cat. He usually comes when he's called and follows me around the house unless it's time for a nap. When I let him know I've come back home he comes to greet me, usually yawning and stretching having just awakened. He's sometimes chatty. He's the only cat I've ever met who purrs as you put food in his dish.

We had a cat named Henry who lived to be a grand old man of twenty and Felix reminds me of him, both are gentlemen with a hint of royalty about them, a slight aura of entitlement. Lesser cats would be resented for their airs but because of Felix and Henry's exquisite personalities they are not.

So I Went Running Today

Yes, I did. And I'm ridiculously proud of myself. I downloaded some podcasts of that Couch to 5k program. I chose the one from the NHS because I liked the sound of Laura's voice saying, "Go for it," in her English accent. Yes, I listened to a couple while sitting on my couch. I also had to buy earphones for my iPhone because I don't use earphones unless I'm on an airplane. The ones I bought were yurbuds. They were pricey but the package said they wouldn't fall out and they didn't.

I was pleased with my run. It was hard but not too hard. I was very thrilled when Laura said I only had one more run to go because I don't think I could have done many more.  So I ended up running eight minutes in total with lots of walking. It doesn't sound like much but it sure beats no running at all.

On my run I saw four dogs (a low count for my neighbourhood I think), one cat (also a low count), one toddler "helping" his Dad saw a board on their front porch, a front porch in the midst of a new paint job (so maybe it's not too late for ours yet) and a toddler having a bit of a meltdown on another porch. I also saw a little family all dressed up. The little girl looked like a bride and she was being very careful with her dress.

Getting Back to Running

I used to run regularly. Now I don't. I've only gone running a dozen times this year. Last time I ran was July 31st.

There are lots of reasons why I want to start running again -- I want to have more energy and more stamina, feel a sense of accomplishment, and feel stronger and more positive. I want to be able to fit into some of my favourite clothes again. I want to feel more confident and better able to focus. But the main reason I want to get out running again is to boost my writing. When I run, I write. So because I want to be writing, I have to get out running.

I thought if I started sharing my getting back into running experience, warts and all, I'd be more likely to actually get out and run.

My List of Reasons to Run

So I haven't run for over five months. Apparently starting a blog about running wasn't enough to actually get me out running. Since I love lists, I thought maybe making a list of my reasons to run might help. Here it is in no particular order:

1. I want to be better able to focus, particularly on creative things like writing.

2. I  just want to feel better physically & emotionally -- stronger, healthier, have more energy, stamina, confidence & self-esteem, better posture, & sleep better (here I am writing on my blog at 2 a.m.) & be less moody & have a better, more positive outlook.

3. I want to fit into my old jeans again -- the all-cotton, non-stretch ones. I want to try on clothes and feel good about how they look. I want to be able to just grab something out of my closet & get dressed & go rather than worrying about what's going to fit or how it looks or wish I could wear something else. I'd like to start wearing dresses & skirts again when I feel like the size of my belly more appropriately matches the size of my legs.

4. I want to be able to run around & play with my grandson when he gets moving. (I've been a grandmother for almost two months now.)

5. I want to lessen my risk of heart attacks, strokes, & diabetes.

6. I want to lower my weight, my BMI, my waist-to-height ratio, my cholesterol level, & anything else that needs lowering that I haven't thought of yet.

7. I want to run in 5k, 8k, & 10k races again. I used to enter races regularly & really enjoy them. I even won a medal once because there were so few of us in my age group. (It wasn't because I was speedy as I was the second-last person to cross the finish line.) I've just signed up for Harry's Spring Run-off in the 5k fun run/walk category & I want to have the feeling of accomplishment of actually doing it.