My heart burns with feeling, but my mind, it’s cold and reeling

I ATTACKED my first 5K of the year yesterday morning. Caffeinated, fairly well rested, foam rolled the night before and ready to try to beat my time from the previous year. It was crisp and overcast in the Rocky River Metroparks, and rain threatened. Fine. Bring the rain, sudden snowstorm, whatever, Ohio. I ran through the entire winter for the first time, and wanted to see if it had a benefit beyond keeping me from going insane and helping to keep my seasonal affective disorder somewhat at bay.

Goal: achieved. The short version is I shaved off almost 8 minutes, EIGHT MINUTES from last year’s time.

I placed myself proudly near the front of the “back of the packers:” runners who stand by the “9+” sign, meaning you run slower than a 9-minute mile. I yell out jokes with the back of the packers before a race. “FASTER THAN THE PEOPLE ON THE COUCH? RIGHT BACK HERE!” “SLOW AND PROUD! RIGHT HERE!” Last year, my average was around a 12-minute mile. Over the winter, I came to around an 11-minute, 11:15. Of late, I’ve pushed a little in test runs and expected my race pace to be about 10:30. Adrenaline and really good music had me keeping pace with the back of the clump that led the back of the packers for the first half mile or so, when I realized this was way too fast and not a pace I could maintain. I dialed it back and let people start passing me. I ended up with a race pace below 10 minutes a mile. Wow.

The best part of this race is the course is some fairly complex trail running. One misstep and you can go over a cliff. One zig instead of zag and you’ve broken an ankle. Tree roots abound. There are stairs, both man-made and natural, to ascend and descend. I’ve run in that area several times over the winter to get used to the twists and turns in the woods and with the trail. I guess it helped. I had no idea what my pace really was because I couldn’t hear my app talking to me after the first mile, and the paces they called out at mile markers were for people who started in the 6 minute mile group.

There were big stairs going down after we’d warmed up with the first mile and a big hill – big, wide and long dirt stairs marked by railroad ties on the end of each step. Too big to step down with an average step. Someone was going alongside them, but that seemed unstable. So even though sweat was pouring into my eyes and my vision isn’t as great as it used to be, I bounded down the stairs with giant leaps, one per riser. Bam, bam, bam. Next thing I knew, I was hitting the 3rd mile marker and I heard a race volunteer say, “Come on, you guys, pick it up! If you push, you can get in before 30.” THIRTY? I tore across that finish line with everything I had left. Official time 29:03. I was 37 something last year.

The rest of the weekend has been a blur. A friend helped me obtain a mattress for the bed I got for D from a resale board, and helped me set it all up. And then was like, um, sheets? DUH. I didn’t even think about sheets, and a blanket. Christ. So the afternoon was getting the mattress, getting some lunch, getting the convertible bed disassembled, getting additional slats for the bed, and before I knew it, it was time to go see some free, outdoor Shakespeare with friends. Not a bad way to spend an evening, though I had forgotten how very cold it is when the sun goes down and you’re sitting still.

Today I got the boy, and then we went to Goodwill and scored two complete sets of sheets. I couldn’t find anything close to a suitable blanket for a 6 year old boy so we went to Target for that, but managed to get one for only $20. And I had a gift card so we went out for lunch. And to the library, to stock up with books and movies for our week off. I have to send him to daycare Wednesday, which is costly, but I have to work at least one day this week since I took a day off last week that wasn’t originally planned, and have just been given a very big project on deadline; not the best way to start a week of vacation, but school is out and camp doesn’t start for a week, so there you go.

I’m compiling a list of free or inexpensive things we can do that will be fun and different, and that don’t require a whole shitload of gasoline to go see, to keep costs down. Unfortunately it’s expected to rain all fucking week except for Wednesday, which will be beautiful. Of course. So outdoors things, including the beach and pool, are out. But I’m coming up with some ideas. I think we’ll make cookies and take them to the local PD and FD. I plan to do a “single glazed doughnut” taste test with KK, Dunkin and a local shop. I’ll come up with some other stuff. And we need to get back to our written journals.

D tells me he’s going to be a writer. Tonight, he read a pretty long level 2 reader book to me, all by himself, and cracked himself up reading it. When he was done he proclaimed, “See, Mom, I’m a good reader and I am SO going to be a writer.”  Hmm.

The creek of life continues to forge twists and bends. People passing away, seems like more people I know every day, and time marching on. The mix and makeup of my group of friends is changing, and that’s ok. I’m almost observing it from outside myself.

I want to be around people who want to be around me. I enjoy my alone time, and get a lot done during those times, but I am truly a social creature and crave interaction. There are people I’ve been “meaning to get together with” or who have had that “meaning” with regard to me. I want to work harder to make those connections happen, to be as passionate about being with the excellent people I have in my life as I am about attacking a race course. You never know when you’re going over that cliff, if you take the wrong step.

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