Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stuff and Nonsense

There are some things that just make me scratch my head. Like toe hair. Why? What's the point? At what point in the history of humanity did survival come down to those 7 gnarly strands of hair on your toes? And people who take calls in the bathroom at work/Target/the airport. Do you seriously not care that the person on the other end can hear flushing? Seriously?

Other things make me say "Huh, you're weird." Mostly those things are about me. Like, on nights when I am left to my own devices, I get irrationally excited about being able to have a dinner that consists of cauliflower, succotash, swedish fish, and ice cream. No judgement. Buster (sweet, adoring, undiscriminating terrier that he is) gets just as excited about licking microwaved vegetable remains as he does about meat and potato scraps (that took way more time and far more dishes to prepare.)

Another "You're weird." realization was solidified for me today. I've kind of noticed it before, but today was a solid reinforcement that I, in fact, am more content to struggle up a rediculous hill than to enjoy a few miles of calm flatness. Today's long run took us up a familiar road, popular amongst Richmond runners for many reasons. Six lanes wide, with sidewalks, Grove Avenue is scenic, well-lit, connects to many pleasant neighborhoods, boasts the infamous Grove Avenue Water Stop (shout out to Sherie!), multiple gas stations for bathroom emergencies, and, the most essential of all running needs, Starbucks. I'm not much for numbers, so won't try to estimate how many times I've run that road, but I can easily say far more of my runs in the past 4 years have involved Grove Avenue than haven't.

We took Grove, in all its runner-friendly, sunny, flowered familiarity, right to its end, where we got to cruise down some lovely hills. (I call this neighborhood Southern Living. It's beautiful.) A nice jaunt past some ideal homes with to-die-for porches/yards, brisk clip around the U of R pond, and then it was time to head back up. Those. hills. are. steep. This wasn't news to me, I've been up them many a time. I often picture someone (my older brother??) standing in front of me with their hand on my forehead saying "Go ahead, move forward. Get up this hill. What's stopping you." And there I am, lowering my head like a bull, swinging my arms and going nowhere. That's kind of what those hills feel like. But for all their maddening enforcement of the laws of gravity, I like them. I like getting on the balls of my feet and encouraging myself not to die, telling my lungs they can make it through this. I enjoyed that part of my run so much more than those final 3 miles all the way back down sweet, unassuming Grove Avenue. Maybe it's because I was tired by that point, maybe it's because I've run it hundreds of times, but a part of me thinks it's that my mind is bored.

And that's weird. It's been said a million (billion?) times how much of running is mental. But for me, I've lately found myself enjoying those runs that allow me to focus on one repeat at a time- whether it's an 800, a lap around the track, or getting to the top of a hill, I find it so much easier to engage, be present, and enjoy the run than plodding along straight miles. It's funny to me because I often tout my ability to zone out while running, and just shut my brain off. There are times when that happens, when I look at my watch and realize I've gone 30, 40 minutes without "thinking". Looking back, I realize those runs almost always involved me trying to keep up with a group, enjoying someone's company, or focusing on the twists and turns of a trail- so focused on my next step and not landing on a rock/root/ledge that there was no room in my brain for things like work, paces, or the fact that my refusal to join in the company carpool program is contributing to Earth's slow but inevitable melting.

So there it is. My brain likes to be involved in my workouts. Who knew?

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