Sunday, August 12, 2007

Run Linda Run

Now I am going to talk about running. Because ten weeks in, I rather feel that I can.

For those of you who don't know, this summer I have begun to run. Like, for real. I have been a half-assed jogger for most of my life. Back at ye olde Deer Valley School District when it came to annual Presidential Fitness time, I'd dutifully run my eight- or nine-minute mile, get a cramp, then move on to the areas in which I did much better, like flexibility tests. I didn't dislike running, per se, but they definitely pointed out the "good runners" very early on in elementary school (Alia Al-Alawi, Michelle DeGeronimo, Carlee Lane, where are they now?) and kind of told the rest of us that wasn't really our sport. "My" sports, I guess, were gymnastics, hiking, swimming, and anything involving a bicycle. Oh and I had a secret fondness and woefully neglected talent for basketball, which is sad to recall now, since I was an occasional all-star but never really a champion at the team sports I did play, mostly softball and volleyball. But I digress. Back to running. I thought I sucked at it. In high school and college I'd jog occasionally, come up with some great plan, go once or twice, then forget about it for another few months. I actually went to a bunch of my friends' track meets and continued to think, "Wow, look at them. That's not me."

In L.A., right when I moved to Manhattan Beach, I got caught up in the excitement of my roommate/family friend I'd known for years as she ran the L.A. Marathon. We had an exquisite run path literally next to our house there in the MB, and she inspired me to begin using it. I ran. I would even get up before work at The Savvy Traveler and run in the joyous light of California morning. (Yes, that is SoCal nostalgia you see spilling all over my keyboard.) The path wound through the lovely neighborhood of shockingly overpriced homes, complete with mile markers and such. Soon enough, running farther and faster every day, I strained my hamstring. Ouch! "Why, you idiot, you never do strength training," said my co-worker who had recently quit smoking, started running, and won her age/sex division in her first big race, on Catalina Island. Right. Strength training. But I went to yoga at the gym sometimes...? Apparently not often enough.

Well, after the healing, I had great intentions, I'm sure, to run again and run better, but we all know how to pave a road to hell. Soon I entered the particularly self-destructive period of my life we like to call "Borders Westwood," and running kind of stopped for a while. I think I probably went once or twice a year, seriously, that's it, for a couple years there. Toward the end of those two years I moved into my little studio apartment off Hollywood Boulevard and I think that's when I finally started running again, up onto Franklin and into the hills, but still only occasionally. I do remember that the day the moving truck came and packed up my life to haul it to Boston, I went on a farewell Hollywood jog. Then I came here to find sheets of ice everywhere.

Occasionally I went running with these Orchard House roommates, occasionally I checked out my pace on the treadmill at the gym, and I ran all of twice, I think, while I was in Korea. I don't know why I couldn't commit. But it's been like that for years, and then, suddenly, inexplicably I went to law school.

As most of us know, law school has a way of taking over your brain. But I didn't want to let it take over my body as well. Hofstra has a delicious pool facility into which I soon plunged, but I also discovered that I could jog a nice little loop around that north campus there, right outside my residence hall door. No, I wasn't diligent, but I upped my frequency from a few times a year to a few times a semester (fall) and a few times a month (spring). Then, in May, the day I found out my grandmother died in the middle of finals, I ran longer and faster than I had in some time, and even as I ran I felt something strange in my leg but I kept running (away?) Two days later I attempted to play a softball game and literally could not run to first base. I felt the most intense pain in my quads and it was as if the muscle was too small to stretch over the entire length of my thigh. Oddly enough, Marcia in town visiting had wanted to run a 5K that weekend while she was in New York, and that was coincidentally the weekend Brian had gone to Michigan to run his 25K, and instead I went off to my grandmother's funeral and iced my leg and couldn't squat down and thought a lot about life, but also running.

So at the beginning of June, after doing nothing for a couple weeks, I decided this summer in Boston I would get back into running, but ease into it and follow a proper training schedule in the hopes of not injuring myself. I shamelessly stole the training schedule from Brian's 25K he had just run (because it's a really good training schedule; I rather like it) and I have been following it for ten weeks!

Isn't that exciting? Ten weeks. That's a long time. I run six days a week and have hardly ever skipped; I can count the missed days on slightly more than one hand. In case you're interested, this week I run seven miles for my longer weekend run. Most days I run along the Mystic River and the Mystic Valley Parkway toward Arlington and the Mystic Lakes. Occasionally I run on the Tufts track to time my mile pace. I haven't actually tried to see how fast I can run a mile. I've been just timing the pace I'm running anyway, which has been getting slightly faster over the weeks. I was all about running slowly ("Slow and steady wins the race!") rather than injuring myself again. But maybe this week I will revisit those Presidential Fitness Test days and see how fast I can go. Some people I've talked to seem to have no recollection of the Presidential Fitness thing, but man, my schools were all over it. Go Deer Valley School district! At some point I set a new high school record in the sit and reach, that flexibility test. It's probably been broken by now. I even searched a bit on the web for the Presidential Fitness test but haven't found the list of the categories and the scores. I know you had to reach a certain time, etc., to get "satisfactory" or "excellent" in P.E. Doesn't anyone else remember this? I want to get the bottom of it! One more way to leave no child behind!

I can honestly now say that I really, really enjoy running. And I enjoy not being half-assed about it.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I remember it and I hated the running. Oddly I always kicked ass on the sit-ups and also the sit and reach flex test. Funny. Twice this week you have brought me back to younger days... Huh.