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A Triumph, Or Do I Flatter Myself?

Is it as much of a triumph if, on the way to your goal, you inwardly grumbled and fussed and wished yourself elsewhere?  Or does that make it more of a triumph, that you overcame your own resistance and fought the enemy that was you?

Another philosophical question:  does it matter much if I do another post about running so soon?

The questions in the first paragraph occurred to me in the middle of this morning’s run.  I made it up the hill to Herkimer College (formerly referred to as HCCC), the first time I have done so in a while.  Even getting on the road was something of a triumph, because my first thought on getting out of bed was, “Thank God I ran yesterday when I didn’t want to, because now it won’t be so bad if I don’t run again till tomorrow.”  A cup of coffee helped me change my mind.

It was 46 degrees, according to my thermostat, one degree over my limit for shorts and short sleeves.  I had been going to rethink that rule, but I could not be bothered with thinking this morning.  I found stuff to wear and got out the door.  I soon lamented my cold hands but comforted myself with the thought that I would not try to write anything for a while after the run.

I had told Steven I might run up to HCCC, but I wouldn’t guarantee it.  As a friend of mine said once, “I don’t make plans, promises or excuses.”  I could have expounded for a while on that excellent rule, but I only would have been stalling my run, so I did not.  Instead I ran toward German Street  and turned myself in the direction of the college.  I could not see any alternative to running up that hill.  I had to do it sooner or later, I thought.  The longer I put it off, the worse it would be.  I realize that, logically speaking, that is not strictly true (do I really need both those adverbs in that sentence?  I do tend to overdo it with the adverbs).  If I kept increasing my run time, and kept running other hills (of which there are not that many in Herkimer), it would get easier not harder to run up one particular hill.  But as I said earlier, I could not be bothered with a lot of thinking this morning.

Besides, I wanted to feel bad-ass.

Going up that hill was not fun.  Looking ahead didn’t help.  Looking down at my feet didn’t help.  Looking back at how far I came helped a little bit, since I didn’t do that till I was more than half-way up.  I tried to distract myself by looking at the green on the bushes and some of the trees to the left and right of me.  I do like to see the green.  I did not see any deer or other critters.  A couple of cars went by, also headed up the hill, but I did not try to hitch a ride.  They probably would not have stopped in any case.

At last, at last, I was at the top!  I wanted to put my arms over my head and make fists, although there was nobody nearby to sing, “We Are the Champions”  (regular readers may recall that at the end of a difficult run, I enjoy to walk around with my fists in the air while somebody sings, “We Are the Champions,” if I can get anybody to do so).   I just kept running normally, though, looking forward to the downhill part of my run.

I upped my time by the recommended 10 percent, so I felt pretty pleased about that.  Then I had a hot flash while I was stretching, so a cool shower felt really good.  I used good-smelling soap and lotion (white gardenia, my favorite), so I could feel pretty. Even us bad-ass runners like to feel pretty sometimes. I meant to make my Running Commentary post soon after my run, and perhaps include more of my observations and philosophical thoughts.  Then again, I’ve approaching 700 words.  That is pretty long for me. And I have a murder mystery to get ready for.  Happy Saturday, everyone.

 

Hill after Headache

I went running today so that I could do a Running Commentary blog post.  The other reasons were (1) it was warmer than it has been for the past two days and (2) I had almost no headache all day.

As I left work, I reminded myself not to go crazy.  It was a little warmer.  It was not a heat wave.  I would still need to wear leggings, long sleeves and probably a hat. Still, the sun was shining.  It was a lovely afternoon.  Could it be over 40?

According to my thermostat, the outdoor temperature was 36 degrees.  Although it was sunny, there were clouds in the sky.  It is, after all, winter.  I dressed accordingly and got going.

At least the sidewalks were fairly bare.  I dodged some snow and ice as I ran toward German Street.  I wanted to run up to Herkimer College.  I thought it would make a better blog post.  Could I make it up that hill?  Maybe I should run up the back way.  Longer but less steep.  Maybe I should just run up the hill by Valley Health.  After all, I worked all day, and I had a migraine yesterday.

I looked at all the traffic and thought maybe I would not be able to cross German Street at all.  Well, I could just run around streets on this side of German.  There was no rule I had to run up a hill.  All I had to do was run and write a blog post about it.  It didn’t matter where.  There was a break in traffic.  I sprinted!  I made it!  But would I run to the college?  Maybe a run into Brookfield Park?

Oh, who was I kidding?  I wanted to run up to the college the front way.  It is the impressive way.  It is the way that makes my friend Phyllis say I am her hero.  I like to be somebody’s hero.  As I turned up Lou Ambers Drive, I looked longingly at Salvatore’s.  It would be nice to go out to dinner later.  However, I am trying to lose weight.  Additionally, Steven works till 6:30.  I would be hungry before that.

Sometimes I have to spit when I run.  I don’t always follow advice, but in general I heed the song that tells me to don’t spi-it in the wind.  I also don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger and I don’t mess around with Slim, but those situations usually do not arise when I am running.  Full disclosure:  that bit occurs to me almost every time I run, and this is the first time I used it in a blog post.

Oh, it took a long time to get up the hill.  As I’ve said before, there was no suspense.  I knew I would make it to the top.  The knowledge was no comfort.  I reflected that the bright day would make the view from the top better than the misty view on New Year’s Day.  There was more traffic than I expected.  One car slowed down and moved over.  When I gave a thank-you wave, the girl driving waved back.  I like little connections like that.

The view was very nice.  Everything around me looked nice.  I always think that sunshine is nature’s cosmetic, because almost any scene looks better in the sunlight. Then again, maybe things just looked better to me because I was at the top of the hill and I could breathe almost normally again.

My run down was not too bad.  My cool-down walk was maybe a little too cool.  The temperature was dropping by then and the wind had picked up.  By the time I finished I was cold and TIRED.  Well, why not be tired at the end of the day?  And aren’t you all happy that I’ve made a blog post of over 600 words where I did not once mention what I couldn’t write about?  I certainly am.

 

One Must Persevere

Twice this week I ran, thinking to do a Running Commentary.  Twice I found I could not.  Then I ran today (Saturday), thinking Saturday Running Commentary, why would I not make a Saturday Running Commentary?  At first I thought I would run my commentaries together (so to speak) and just make a post about This Week in Running.  As I started to write (yes, I’ve gone back to re-write the intro after writing most of the blog) (just to insert a note about The Writing Process), I found myself saying quite a bit about Tuesday’s run.  Not wishing to tax my readers’ patience, I shall just comment about one run today.

 

Tuesday I wanted to run into the Unknown Park.  A friend told me it is Brookfield Park.  I have called it the Unknown Park in this blog, because it is not clearly labelled.   That is how I still think of it.  These during the week runs are tricky, because it is not so easy to cross German Street at that time of the day (fourish).  All the hills I know of in Herkimer are on the other side of German Street from my street.

 

This time I managed to cross it with very little problem.  So I felt I was not off the hook for hills.  After all, if I have managed to get across the busy street, why waste it?  I sure did not feel like running, but I persevered.  The park would be interesting.  I had not run it since sometime last fall.  I might even see some buds on some trees.

 

Imagine my chagrin on discovering that the entrance to the park was blocked by a chain with an orange triangle attached.  There is a space where a pedestrian could sneak in, but I have to think of safety first.  Suppose I ran into some kind of trouble (and you know I have a vivid imagination that can come up with all sorts of trouble)?  Who would be likely to come along and help me in a blocked off park?  I ran on.

 

Running up the hill to the college was clearly ineligible, so I went up the hill by Valley Health and ran around in the suburbs (I know they aren’t really suburbs, it’s just a handy term I use).  As I went slowly up, I realized I am in no shape for the Boilermaker 15K.  I’d better step up the pace of my training.  And by step up the pace, of course I mean to continue my shuffling, overweight middle-aged lady pace (not that gender makes a difference), but more often and for longer periods of time.  No more two days off between runs, maybe not even one day off.   And I definitely have to at least walk on the days I do not run.

 

As I ran on, at one point I had a choice:  turn left and continue on a level road or go up a steep-looking hill.  I decided I would turn left.  I was tired.  Then I thought, “Step up the pace.”  I  would go up that hill!  I felt bad ass.  As usual the hill looked less steep when I got right up to it.  It was steep enough.  I made it up.  Then I took a left turn to run by a sign that said, “Do Not Enter.”  I felt bad ass doing that too.  Oh, you don’t have to tell me: they mean cars not middle-aged ladies jogging.  Don’t spoil my fun.

 

I felt quite pleased with myself for running and especially for tackling that second hill.   I was dreadfully tired as the evening progressed, but that is the difference between running after a long day of work and running first thing after sleeping in on the weekend.  As I often observe, one must persevere.

 

 

I Prepare for the DARE

WELL, today I have a good reason to be Tired on Tuesday: I ran up the hill to Herkimer County Community College (HCCC).

It was practically fall weather today. I had made up my mind to run regardless, but this was an added inducement. One might think I did not necessarily have to run a big bear of a hill on a weekday run, but the DARE 5K is fast approaching, and the hill to HCCC is on that run. By the way, be prepared for this blog to become All DARE 5K All The Time sometime within the next three weeks.

Be that as it may, I got home, got into my running gear and got going. I even made Steven come upstairs and talk to me while I changed, because he was telling me a story about his day. I was going to run up that hill, come home and write about it, then ENJOY MY TUESDAY!

I had no plan about exactly how long to run. I had run 44 minutes on Sunday but did not feel I had to run so far today. Earlier in the day I had thought perhaps 40 would be good. It wasn’t going to feel good right away, I told myself. Just keep going.

Maybe I wouldn’t be able to cross German Street. Four o’clock traffic in Herkimer can be pretty dicey, I thought. If I couldn’t cross the street, well, how could I run that big hill. Look at all that traffic. I knew it was a lame excuse. I could cross at the three-way stop at Caroline Street, which is what I did.

The temperature was not as cool as I like to run in, but considering how hot it could be in July, I told myself to count my blessings. At least a pretty good breeze was blowing. It sure was taking a while to get to that hill. Running did not start to feel good. What was that all about? Never mind, just keep going.

Oh dear, the hill was not going to be fun. I tried the trick I learned in the army: just look at your feet and shuffle up the hill. I looked up to see where I was at. I had to admit, it was just as effortful either way. I thought about the DARE 5K. Would it feel like this? Surely not. How many times would I have to run up this hill before it became easy?

There was more traffic than there had been on Sunday. Some of the people nicely slowed down or at least moved over a little. A few did not. Oh well, at least nobody hit me. I wouldn’t care for that. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I was having a little trouble breathing. I did a trick I was taught by a speech therapist for my vocal chord dysfunction (VCD): sip/blow. It isn’t really like a sip. You make kind a shape with your mouth like you’re making a “EEE” sound, then you exhale with an “OOOOO.” I was glad nobody was close enough to hear me but even more glad I did not have a VCD attack.

As I ran down the hill I kept making all these deals with myself: 30 minutes would be OK. 34? 36? There was NO WAY I could get to 40!

As it turned out, I could. I felt pretty proud of myself. I wanted to walk around with my fists in the air while somebody sang the chorus of “We Are the Champions.” Steven probably would have sung it for me if I had asked. Instead I walked around the block with Tabby and drank some water. I’m sure I’ll be ready for the DARE 5K. It’s just a question of how tired I’ll feel afterwards.

Sometimes Coffee is Not the Right Thing

A good way to get yourself to run on Sunday is to don’t run Saturday, so you will be obligated to run or to take two or more likely three days in a row off (because it is VERY difficult for me to run on a Monday). My alarm woke me up at 6, which is unusual for me (I didn’t have to work, but Steven did). At first I said, “I can’t run right away, I’d better have coffee first.” I immediately thought better of that plan and ran pre-coffee.

I congratulated myself on my perspicacity as I started running down the sidewalk (yes, I use words like “perspicacity” before having coffee). After all, coffee would make me more clever about thinking of excuses not to run. I wished I had run Saturday. Not because it would have been a good idea to take Sunday off, but because it felt like I had taken a lot longer than one day off. I carefully reviewed my week in my head as I ran. Yes, ran Friday, took Saturday off. Damn.

I had it in my head to run up the hill to Herkimer County Community College (HCCC). I have run it in recent memory (I probably did a blog post about it), but I have not run it as many times as I would like to before the DARE 5K in August.

When I had run on Friday, I had looked up the hill, but it was still quite dark out. The streetlights beckoned, but my nerves failed me. In my defense, it is disconcerting to run prior to four in the morning. Also, the path up to HCCC has woods on either side. I know there are deer that come out and cross the road. Who knows what nocturnal critters I might encounter?

These considerations were not valid on a July Sunday after 6 a.m., so up I went. My body was not happy with me, but I persevered. This hill wasn’t so bad, I told myself. After a while, I believed myself (why would I lie?). Still, I want to run that hill a bunch more times before the DARE 5K.

As I ran, I heard a rumble. Was that thunder? Thunder, we are told, is grounds for immediately returning home. Once I get out on a run, I do NOT look for excuses for immediately returning home. I wanted to run at least 40 minutes, maybe even 44, so I could increase my time by the recommended ten percent. That probably wasn’t thunder, I thought. It was probably some big old truck doing some big old truck thing. I kept running.

I ran towards the road that goes the back way down the hill. I saw a “Do Not Enter” sign, so I entered. It was just a little turn-off kind of street, didn’t even take me that long out of my way. I briefly considered continuing the other way and running by the reservoir but thought that would be better when I was up to running 50 or more minutes.

I passed two No Left Turn signs as I ran down the hill but had made up my mind to go straight for a while. I even turned and ran up another hill. Not a big, bad hill, but big enough so I could say to myself, “Yeah, I’m bad.” Was that another rumble? Probably another truck, I told myself. Anyways, there was Valley Health. I could turn towards it and be on my way home. Didn’t I once say something like safety first for Mohawk Valley Girl?

Surely it would be OK to run by the school instead of straight home (and I’ll call you Shirley if I feel like it). I really really wanted to run at least 40 minutes. I heard a train. Was that a rumble as well? No, no, just the train making that noise. I could keep running.

After running by the school I went kind of sort of straight home. The rumbles increased to where I could no longer pretend they were not thunder. I made my 44 minutes by running around the two vehicles in my driveway several times.

Tabby declined to go on my cool-down walk, with me. That was quite all right with me. I walked around my backyard for a shortened cool-down. The storm began in earnest while I was stretching out. Oh was I right not to have coffee first!

More a Shuffle than a Plod

According to the weather report, it was going to be a good day to run: not humid and not too hot. Based on the fact that I’ve taken three days off, it was definitely a good day to run. I spent a good part of the day at work repeating to myself that it would be a good idea to run.

As I walked out of work, I knew that I would run. It seemed to take a long time to walk to my vehicle. I thought to myself, “You’re not going to run. You’re going to plod. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. You can write that in your blog post.”

It was warmer than I really like, which I had figured would happen. I made sure I remembered a headband. I hoped to be able to find a lot of shade. Off I went.

I thought it would be a good idea to run at least one hill. However, I would have to cross German Street, which is not easy at this time of day. I would play it by ear: if I could cross German, I would run a hill. If not, no hill. I would decide which hill if and when I crossed German.

No chance to cross German right away. Perhaps at Caroline? Ooh, here was a chance, if I didn’t wait for the corner. I darted across. At least, as I narrated in my head, I said, “I darted across.” I called myself on that little exaggeration as soon as I was across the street. I hope I moved a little quicker, at any rate.

I realized I was not plodding so much as shuffling. That was OK. I shuffle all the time when I run. It is especially helpful on hills. Then I tripped on the sidewalk. That’s where too much shuffling will get you. I can just hear somebody sniffing, “That’s why I run in the road.” Oh yeah, like there are not sewer grates, potholes and garbage in the road. If this was Lame Post Friday, I could go into some half-baked philosophy about how we always encounter obstacles, but this being Wednesday, I shall refrain.

I did not run the hill to Herkimer County Community College, but I did encounter some upgrades. They were not fun, but I survived. I got barked at by some dogs, but they were all in houses, behind fences or on chains, so that was OK. I debated how long I wanted to run. Not 40 minutes, which I had run last Saturday. Then again, I was trying to build myself up. 20 minutes was surely too short. 30? Between 30 and 40?

I ended up doing 36 minutes, which I thought was pretty good. It was quite a pleasant run when I was in the shade and a breeze blew. In the sun with still air, not so much, but my legs kept going. The funny thing was, my legs would feel like macaroni, then they would feel fairly athletic. I ended the run athletic, the cool-down walk macaroni. I can live with that.

The View from the Top

Having missed Saturday Running Commentary, I thought I would run today (Sunday). I further decided to quit pussy-footing around and go up my main challenge hill: the road to Herkimer County Community College (HCCC). There are not a whole lot of hills in Herkimer, NY, but this one is a really good one. It is steep, it is long, and one is rewarded with a beautiful view from the top. Additionally, it is very impressive to people when you tell them you run up the hill to HCCC. I have not run that hill in a while. It was time.

Of course I woke up NOT wanting to run. I didn’t even try to argue with myself; I just put on my stuff and went, a technique I have often found effective.

Right away it was not fun. My legs felt awful. I was sure this was because I went three days in a row without running. These things happen. I studiously ignored complaints and kept running. It was a nice cool temperature. In fact, my hands were a little cold. After a while my ears felt cold too, but I had remembered to wear a headband so was able to cover them up.

Was it really such a good idea to run that hill, I wondered. Then I thought, why not? I had nothing much to do for the rest of the day so it wouldn’t matter if I racked myself up. I really can’t keep running that little hill by Valley Health and build up for the DARE 5K in August. Finally I thought, just run up the hill for 15 minutes, then turn around and run back down. However far you get, that’s how far you go.

This, of course, was a psychological trick. I knew that by the time I was 15 minutes up the hill, I was going to keep going to the top. I ran by the spring. I thought about how I usually reward myself with a drink of spring water. My hands were too cold to want to do that. No matter. There was water waiting for me at home.

It seemed to take a long time to get to the actual hill. Why was I running so slowly anyways? But it was all I could do to continue. I saw a mother deer and her fawn in somebody’s front lawn. Then I saw another deer laying down, looking dignified. Then I thought I heard a shotgun. Good God, were there hunters in a residential area? But I suppose sound carries. Or maybe it wasn’t a gun after all. I kept running.

Oh it was not fun. What a lot of work to go uphill. I thought about how if I kept doing this I would get better at it. At the DARE 5K, I would breeze by young kids who felt they had to walk. I remembered with some bitterness one runner who I passed at least four times the last time I ran the DARE 5K. She walked, I passed her, she ran, she passed me. I want to build up to where if I pass someone, they stay passed.

I made it to the top of the hill. You knew I was going to, I hope. The view from the top was not so good, due to haziness. No matter. If I keep running the hill, I am sure to see a beautifully clear view sometimes. I just turned around and ran back down. I stopped at the spring for a drink. My hands did not feel so cold by then. Aah, good water.

I ran longer than I have yet, adding more than the recommended 10 percent to my last longest time. Perhaps that is not ideal, but I had to get all the way home and I was not yet ready to begin my cool-down walk. I save that to walk with Tabby.

I felt so pleased with my accomplishment that I posted a Facebook status about it. A gratifying number of my friends have Liked it. I like it too. I’m looking forward to the next time I run that hill.

Summer Solstice Run

When I went to bed last night I realized I don’t like running prior to four in the morning. Still, Steven had to be up early for work. I wanted to do laundry at six. I went.

First I was delayed by hitting the wrong button on my watch. That took more hitting of more buttons, which I could not see very well in the dark. I tell you, sometimes it is not easy being me. It was 3:40 instead of the usual 3:38 when I actually began running.

I know some people have big, elaborate (I guess not physically big) devices that tell them exactly how far they run and what speed and how many calories they burn and how their heart behaves… I use the stopwatch on my Timex and only worry about how long I move my feet. Point and laugh if you must.

I had decided to run the hill by Valley Health. I had in mind the bold plan of running up the hill to Herkimer County Community College (HCCC) on Sunday. I’ve always considered that my Sunday Run, although I do run it other days as well. When I run it, which I have not in many months (must check my running journal to see when the last time was).

As I crossed German Street, I waved to our paper deliverers. They waved back. A pick-up truck made a loud bang as it went over a pothole. That is a sound I have been hearing a lot lately. I know there are a lot of potholes around here but I had no idea there were so many pick-up trucks with empty trailers. Perhaps there are other things that make similar noises.

German Street has a small upgrade as one approaches Valley Health. I was soon thinking that I will NOT be ready for the hill to HCCC this week. Well, I don’t have to make that decision till tomorrow.

I ran slowly up the hill I was ready for, taking long strides so I felt a little stretch in the back of my legs. Some lights were on at Valley Health. I thought about the people working the night shift. They would be approaching the end of their shifts. I hated the night shift. I don’t get good sleep during the day. Of course a nap on one’s day off can be a beautiful thing, but it is not the same.

I did not run down by the high school as I often do after the hill by Valley Health. There did not seem to be any nefarious characters hanging about, but there was no point in taking chances. I started down Church Street. I saw one of the pretty cats I had run by Tuesday morning (oh yeah, never wrote a blog post about that run). The cat crouched down and watched me suspiciously. I wondered if it was a stray or belonged with anybody.

I realized I was headed towards Main Street. Main Street has kind of a bad reputation these days. I often walk there with Tabby and have never had a problem, but I decided not to try it at 4 a.m. I would turn at Prospect Street. It seemed long enough to get to Prospect.

I saw a house with solar lights in a front yard flower bed. Our solar lights do not all light up. Then I saw one of these people’s lights was out and felt better. Nobody is perfect, I thought. Then I saw a house with eight solar lights lining the front walk, all lit, and felt inferior again. Just kidding; even my fragile self-esteem can stand up to somebody else’s solar lights being on. But it wasn’t giving me any ego boosts.

I headed towards Meyers Park. Signs say the park is closed from dusk to dawn, so I ran around it. I don’t imagine anyone would mind if I ran through it, but I think around is slightly longer to go around. I wanted to run 29 minutes, which is how long I ran last Sunday. I plan to up my time by 10 percent tomorrow. Earlier in the run I had my doubts about making it to 29 but now I wondered if I wouldn’t actually go over.

I did not go over but I made my 29 minutes. The sky was lightening when Tabby and I took our cool-down walk. Today is the summer solstice. I guess I celebrated summer with my early morning run. And let’s hear it for getting the run done and on to the rest of Saturday!