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Today I’m grateful for Crossfit. But first:

Work was kind of crappy today. I didn’t get much done this weekend (as mentioned with my previous post about The Walking Dead, which yes I did get caught up on). The election anticipation is driving me bonkers. The poodle keeps hiding her treats in places I’m likely to sit on them. It gets dark at 430 now. Birds pooped all over my car. My life is super hard.

Then: 5 Rounds

400m Run

30 Situps

15 Deadlifts (83lbs for me)

We started the WOD running as pack – which I haven’t really done since high school. The pack can make running feel more fluid, more fun. I don’t think as much about the cold air burning my lungs or my uneven gait. That seemed to set the tone. Even when I thought I was going to puke on round three of the run and thirty sit-ups seemed insane and my deadlift form faltered. I felt good. Crossfit made everything OK.

Well for at least the next hour as my brain swims with sick amounts of endorphins, Crossfit made everything better. Tomorrow might be a different story.

Sit-ups have traditionally been my weak point. The first PT test I took in basic training I did nine. Yep, nine. My failure embarrassed me then and still bristles me today. So I studied. At the end of the day, even though I was exhausted and miserable, I hooked my feet beneath the bunk and did some sit-ups. In time, I improved. God I hate sit-ups.

When I started crossfit earlier this summer I realized running had become my weakness. I just don’t have the endurance I once did. My mile time is embarrassing. Those JV cross-country days are long behind me, it seems. So, I studied. On days I didn’t go to crossfit, I ran and I improved. Then summer got in the way – vacation, roof-top happy hours, patios, dog parks.

On Saturday I felt it. We did “Kelly” (5 rounds – 400m run, 30 wall balls, 30 box jumps). Holy shit. I could not keep up. My body was covered in a sweat after one round. By round two I had to rest after every 5 jumps. Don’t even ask what the run looked like. It was almost as embarrassing as that first PT test. Summer has not been kind to me.

Fine, I’ll study.

Today we found a skull near the park:

I grew up in a town about one tenth the size of Minneapolis. Not small by Iowa standards but small enough. Even there I didn’t see this many animal bones.

Also.

This is our neighbor-dog Chevy:

Chevy screams like a child. Maybe you’d call it a moan or a wail but you wouldn’t describe it in dog terms. I’ve never owned or lived near a pitbull so maybe this is normal. He’s a good boy, he gets plenty of attention and walks, but he does NOT like the tie-out.

It’s easier to focus on things like this because instead of feeling stronger lately, I’ve been feeling weak. Yesterday, I almost threw up at crossfit – I’m not one of those people who thinks that’s a good thing – and my run was just as bad today as it was when it was 100 degrees out. I know these things go in cycles but it’s still frustrating.

It’s too hot in Minneapolis. Too hot to run or think or be a cauliflower, yet I’ve done at least two of those things today.

A skinny teenage boy passed out in the park.  Don’t worry, appropriate officials were called. An equally skinny girl dug through his bag as a cop tried to get the boy to say a coherent phrase. The dog and I stopped to watch as the cop propped up the boy each time the heat pushed his body back towards the ground. In theory, I like the heat. I always have. But theory is just the bastard child of reality. After my run today, I couldn’t think, couldn’t focus or form useful sentences. This kind of heat is just as bad as the deepest cold of winter. We’re trapped inside by the weather. I may have to rethink my theory.

It’s too hot, my friends.

I have the usual music on my running playlist – a good beat, something uptempo, a fair amount of Kanye – but I also have some slower jams. Adele. Bright Eyes. Bon Iver. I like to think these slower songs add variety to my runs. As the music slows I can focus on breathing, my stride. Sometimes this works but, more often, I pull a line from the lyrics to be my mantra for three minutes and fifty seconds. I WILL BE Bon Iver’s skinny love. Skinny, skinny, skinny, love, love, love.

Maybe this is flawed logic. I blame my oxygen deprived brain for convincing me it’s totally normal.

Sometime during my years in the Army I was taught to pay attention to my surroundings while I run. It passes the time. It’s good to have situational awareness. It stops my brain from focusing on the voice in my head screaming, “So hot! So tired!” If I think about what I might blog about – a silly little gem from the outside – that helps, too.

Today, as I ran around Lake Harriet, everything I saw seemed to test my patience. Couples walking hand-in-hand thus blocking the path. Speed walkers swinging their arms so wide they nearly hit me as we passed. Dogs, so many dogs, stretching their leashes across my path. Teenagers walking four wide. Johnny-joggers weaving in and out of all these inconsiderate people. Oy!

I grew so frustrated I wanted to stop. Fuck it, I thought. It’s too hot to run anyways. Then I remembered my sweet, meditative girlfriend’s advice for these ugly feelings. Stay with it. See the people. Feel the breeze off the lake.  Keep running. With my patience-bubble propelling me, I pushed forward and finished the whole loop. Even though I’m still running slow, I’m glad I didn’t stop. Maybe tomorrow’s crossfit will be that much easier for it. I hope.

When I took driver’s ed the summer before my sophomore year of high school I had to ride my bike past fields of corn and soybeans to get to town. The ditches were filled with overprotective redwinged blackbirds sure that I was about to steal their babies. No matter how fast I rode I could see their ever larger shadows overhead until the boldest bird swooped at my head.

Today, as I ran around Lake of the Isles, that flash of red and yellow caught my eye. One little blackbird hopped onto the path as I passed. He looked right at me, I swear, but he didn’t attack. I jumped to the side and ran a little faster. I still don’t trust those little bastards.

For years people have told me to read Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

I’m not sure why I waited so long but I finally gave in. It’s good, you should read it. Murakami doesn’t treat running as a religious activity. He doesn’t think he is better than non-runners. As someone who wants to think of herself as a runner but doesn’t always have the motivation, hearing a writer discuss the simplicity of running is oddly motivating. I’m not running much more than I was before the book but maybe it’s still soaking in.

While running slowly around Lake of the Isles this morning I saw a duck – a mallard – swimming with two ducklings no bigger than my fist. That’s odd, I thought. Aren’t there usually more ducklings in a litter, group, gaggle? Most of my knowledge about ducks comes from children’s literature though so I kept running. Paying attention to my surroundings while I run or walk the dog helps me pass the time. I can think about the ducks instead of that voice in the back of my head screaming “why the fuck are you  still running?”

At about the two mile mark, I saw another duck swimming along the edge of the lake. This little brown speckled bird looked just like the one I had seen across the lake. Instead of two little fist-sized ducklings following her, a dozen little fuzzballs fell in line. Do ducks kidnap? Had this second duck taken in the first’s extra babies because she was an unfit mother? I kept running and wondered about the politics of duck foster-mothers.

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