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Almost Perfect

I preface this post by saying that I have just had a lovely day. I had a fun visit with some of my family, ate a wonderful dinner, and now I am home relaxing with my husband and dog. It is the bra off, sweats on portion of the day. The only thing lacking in my day is to hit Publish on my blog post. Then my life will be perfect.

That is something I am fond of saying, “And then my life will be perfect.” I seem to think I coined the phrase one morning in the army. I was still an IET soldier (Initial Entry Trainee), when they made you do all kinds of ridiculous things. On this morning we had to be in Class B uniforms, standing outside in the cold for an interminable length of time. Class B meant skirt, pantyhose and pumps (although I could and later did wear comfy flat tie shoes with the skirt) (there are pants for female Class B as well; I don’t remember if they specifically told us to wear the skirts or if I just could not be bothered to keep my shirt, belt and fly straight on the pants).

Where was I? Ah yes, standing out in an unusually cold day (Monterrey, California was usually a pretty straight 70 degrees), with my toes becoming numb. Cadre was ignoring us but not dismissing us to class, and we were muttering to each other under our breath. I did not want to sound like a big fat whiner (I know, that’s what I pretty much am, but sometimes I don’t want to sound that way), so I said, “If I could take off my shoes and rub my feet for thirty seconds, my life would be perfect.”

Now I know, my life will never be PERFECT. But, really, doesn’t that sound much better than, “My toes are so cold I think I will cry”? So I know I will not have a perfect Sunday. Yet, I hope to avoid my usual Wrist to Forehead Sunday. For one reason, I feel somehow not right having a Wrist to Forehead Sunday on Easter. However, we all know I am rarely up to writing a real post on a Sunday. Also on the Wrist to Forehead side of the scale, holiday or not, I have to work tomorrow. I fight, fight, fight the urge to jump on the Monday Sucks, Everything Sucks bandwagon, but, well, let’s just say, Sunday is not always the thrill I am hoping for.

Back to the Life is Almost Perfect side of the scale, I see I am over 400 words. A more than respectable post! I shall soon hit Publish! Everything will be delightful (that is another favorite expression of mine).

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

I confess to some affection for a silly movie called Galaxy Quest. I won’t write about it today, but I flashed on it during this morning’s run, and I thought this line from it would be a good title for Saturday Running Commentary.

Full disclosure: I ran some hours ago. Usually I like to write my commentary soon after the run and shower (in case any of you thought I was being gross). Today not so much, but I’ll try to remember the highlights.

I was determined to run, since I ate chicken wings at Happy Hour last night and woke up quite fat. I don’t imagine the chicken wings alone are to blame, but they’ll be the handy scapegoat (ooh, I could have called this post, “Good-bye, Chicken Wings”). I first walked Tabby to the post office and went to the grocery store (I bought things to enhance the tossed salad I shall virtuously eat later). Yes, I had plenty of time to talk myself out of it, but I did not.

Sorry to be too personal, but one problem I’ve been having with my running these days is I need to purchase new sports bras. I had a boo-boo due to some chafing. I tried to cover it with a pad, which really needed some adhesive tape, although I figured the pressure of the sports bras (I wear two) would hold it OK. At least it is finally at the temperature where I don’t have to ponder short or long sleeves.

Off I went. And it didn’t feel too good. Once again, I felt that I was running slowly. No gazelle in my head today. That is where “Never give up, never surrender” came in. I didn’t give up.

I pondered Memorial Day. I was wearing my ARMY t-shirt in honor of the weekend. Of course people are all over Facebook telling us how to celebrate: it’s not barbecue day, thank a veteran, don’t thank a living veteran, remember a dead one. Oh, I don’t mean to get controversial and sorry if I offended anyone. But I thought in my head I might be honoring veterans who gave all by maintaining the fitness I learned in the army. I can’t say I learned to persevere in the army, because I knew that going in. But I honed my ability to persevere.

I ran in a different direction from the way I ran on Wednesday. I noticed a porch on a house that wasn’t there before (the porch, not the house), and the absence of a hole that had been in front of another house. These innovations may have been there for weeks, but I just now noticed them. I continue to hone my skills at observation.

I saw some dark purple tulips that I quite envied. We were up to three tulips this year. When we moved in, one yellow tulip bloomed. I keep forgetting to get more bulbs to put down, but I guess this one multiplied on its own. Must work on the yard soon.

When I walked Tabby earlier, I had an eye out for cans and bottles, but didn’t find any. Then I saw a guy carrying an almost full bag of them and guessed he had beaten me to it. He didn’t look very well off, so I guess I’m glad he got the nickels. I did find one can. As I ran, I saw a plastic bottle and briefly considered picking it up. Some people run with a water bottle in hand, so I wouldn’t look too foolish. But I decided against it. I’m carrying too much excess weight as it is.

The run lasted one minute longer than Wednesday’s. To increase my time by the recommended weekly 10 percent would be two minutes. Sunday is my usual increase day, so I think I’m doing OK. I’m glad I ran, although I’m wondering if the post about it is any great shakes. Oh well, with blogging as with running, I will not give up, I will not surrender!

Musings on the Move

But not moving very fast. You know how I run.

I’ve decided not to worry too much about All Boilermaker All The Time, because it seems to me the Utica O-D is doing the same thing. At least, A Lot Of Boilermaker. After all, they have a whole newspaper with a large readership. I have one little blog with a modest but highly intelligent readership (I’m quite certain all my readers are folks of taste and discernment and even more certain that none of them will disagree)(and, of course, by “modest” I am referring to size of said readership, not humility of individuals on which I would not pass judgement).

Where was I? Ah, yes, Middle-aged Musings Monday. What better to muse about this morning than running? And I did muse as I ran.

One thought that occurred to me yesterday and that I further pondered today was I don’t run to improve my time; I run to improve myself. That meant something different fifteen years ago from what it means now.

Fifteen (or so) years ago, I was in the army. I’ll be honest: I did want to improve my time. They give you these PT (Physical Training) tests, they post the times for all to see. You have to maintain a certain time or they could make your life even more difficult. Of course I wanted to improve my time. But that was not my whole focus.

I realized this when this guy — I won’t even say which branch of service he was in, because he was a poor representative of it — scorned my running of hills (this was in Monterrey, CA; there were plenty of hills). If you wanted to improve your run time, he said, you should work on your stride, so it was better to run a smooth, flat track. That’s all very well and good, I suppose. But what if one was forced to run in a combat situation? The enemy is not likely to provide a flat, smooth path.

Anyways, it is much more satisfying to run hills, and a lot more interesting to have variety in the terrain. And running off road is fun! I did not argue all this with the guy. I just kept doing what I was doing. Any my run time did improve, so there.

Now I run purely for me (and for the amusement of anybody that wants to point and laugh, I suppose). These days I’m more interested in enjoying the scenery and thinking of things to write in my blog that I am in a hard core workout. Along the way I manage to put in a fair amount of effort, but I don’t need to think about PT tests or worry about combat situations.

So what am I improving, if not my time? I’m improving my weight by calories burned. I’m improving my powers of perseverance. I’m improving my knowledge of village streets as well as my observational skills. I’m improving my mood, because even if I don’t get that endorphin boost, I feel good about myself that I got out and did it.

Am I improving my blog? Well, that’s a judgement call. All I can do is keep running and writing. See you Tuesday.

Just Like PT!

It really was not just like PT, but I thought that might make a catchy headline. PT, in case you did not know, stands for Physical Training in the army. That is where I learned to run, among other things.

In honor of Memorial Day, I put on my ARMY t-shirt to run in. This did not make it like PT, actually, because I also had on some comfy spandex shorts, not the doofy PT shorts they issue you. It was also not like PT because in army PT, you do not DARE untuck your t-shirt from your doofy shorts. I remember once running at army PT another soldier said, “I WANT to untuck my shirt!” To do her one better I said, “I want to take mine off and wave it over my head!” Then I added, “Under strobe lights, to a pulsing disco beat!” for good measure. I was actually shouting this after her, because she ran faster than me. I used to have fun during army PT.

I actually did not want to run this morning. I had two long, hilly runs the last two days. I usually take Mondays off. But I also usually work a 10-hour day Mondays. Today I do not work. I was up shortly after 6 a.m. (a very late sleep-in for me). It was plain silly not to run.

To make things more tempting, I promised myself no major hills. Then I thought I would try to cross State Route 5, which runs down the middle of Herkimer, and run in an area I rarely run in. I figured earlyish in the morning on a Monday holiday, I could cross without too much trouble.

I further decided to run to the canal path, which you can get on where State Route 5 crosses Route 5S, where Herkimer meets Mohawk. I was not sure how long it would take me to get there or how long down the path I could run, but it fulfilled my quest for Someplace Different and a running/walking/biking path might be fun.

Crossing State Route 5 was no problem. There is a button that will give you a WALK signal, but I managed to sprint without waiting for it. Ooh, now I was in different territory. Not unfamiliar, because I have run there before or even been there numerous times in a car. Past some businesses. A computer repair place, a bike repair place. I really ought to get my bike back on the road. Pedaling a bicycle is much easier on the joints than running. I noticed they also offered snowshoe sales and rentals. Snowshoeing sounded good to me. Any sport that you can do slowly sounds good to me when I am running (which, of course, I also do slowly).

It did not take me too long to get on the path, but now I started to fret. How far down the patch should I go? I knew there was a bridge over the canal that brings you to Washington Street. It would be good to run that far then go home by way of Washington, but how long a run would that make? I kept looking at my watch. The bridge was nowhere in sight. I’m sure it is further away when one is running than when one is driving.

A small group of ladies was walking toward me. I said good morning, but they ignored me. They were having a conversation. Still, a little wave would have been nice. I was exerting a lot more energy than they were, so I felt a little virtuous about that. But they were being easier on their joints and being sociable with each other, so they could feel virtuous about that, if they so chose.

I would run out 20 minutes then turn around. Or maybe 25. After all, I was up to a 50 minute run in my training regimen. Was it a good idea to run out a full half of what I wanted for my total? Did I want to run out and back? I would run to that curve in the path up ahead and see if I could see the bridge. Well, maybe a little further.

Of course, if I got to the bridge, I would have to go out on the road to cross it. The path goes underneath the bridge. There was the bridge! Was there a way to get easily from the path to the bridge? I didn’t think so, so I got out on the highway. Not a wide shoulder, but a shoulder. I thought I could hear a HUGE truck coming toward me. It turned out to be a garbage truck, not a negligible size by any standard. He nicely hugged the center line and even crossed over it a little as he approached me. God bless him.

Almost to the bridge. I could see that I would have had to crash through some grass and climb over the rail to get from there to here. Well, I will do that next time. Highways are scary. A small but existent shoulder on the bridge. There was a narrow lip by the railing, but I did not get on that. For one thing, the railing would have been at the bottom of my hip. I could just see me tumbling over and falling down, down, down to the water below.

Then I was on Washington Street. It wasn’t going to take me any time at all to get home. Would I even fulfill my 50 minutes? Of course it took longer to get home than I expected, but I still had to go around the block then past the house and backtrack. It was a pretty good run.

When I got to the computer, I went on a Facebook page of Veterans of Rome, NY and posted that I had run in my ARMY t-shirt in tribute to soldiers past and present. A couple of people liked it.