Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On Running

Sunrise from my Porch on Jan 31st.
There are very few things that will get me out of bed early enough to see the sunrise from my front porch, and the prospect of running a race is one of them.  It is funny, because I've always had a love/hate relationship with exercise: In college, I knew that I had to trick myself into exercising, or it wouldn't happen. Since that time, as long as it isn't more than 3 flights of stairs, I refuse to take the elevator; I try to park so that I can get more walking in; And I am constantly trying to figure out other ways to add exercise to my life. I needed something that is a better motivator than, "I need to be in better shape and I'd like to lose X pounds."

A picture from the road trip to Sedona.  It is much more fun when you can laugh and talk the miles away!
That's the thing--since I have begun running, I have gained 15 lbs, not lost any.  Mostly, I suspect that it is because I tend to give myself permission to eat more calories than I have burned.  As an inveterate snacker, this is one of my (many) Achilles heels, and I have begun working on fixing this by monitoring my calories again.  I hate calorie counting, but it is the only reliable way that I know of to keep track of how much I'm eating.  I'm thinking that banning between meal snacks will be a good Lenten discipline for me this year.  I'm also working on cutting out how many times I go to Starbucks, but that is ongoing.

All of us before the race.  I don't know who of us crossed the finish line first, but I was the last to finish.
I don't know that I've ever had a runner's high, either.  At the same time, running is its own motivation for me in ways that other exercise isn't--it clears my mind and I just feel incredibly refreshed after a 3-6 mile run.  It is like the little bit of speed that I can muster blows away the mental cobwebs and I begin to think more clearly about those things that I have been gnawing on.  It must be all of those glorious endorphins that one secretes while running.  My scientific friends would say that this happens with all exercise, but it sure doesn't feel like it!

Just past the half-way point.  Still feeling pretty good at this point!
All of us after the race. My chip time was 3:20:37. I'm hoping to shave at least 10 minutes off of that for the El Paso half.
So, after my adventure in Sedona, I am 1 half-marathon down for the year with at least 5 more scheduled for the year.  I likely won't see another sunrise again until I get up for another race, but that's ok.  I get to sleep a little bit later, and then spend evenings with family and friends.  As a night owl, the fact that  I live close to a trail that I can run safely in the dark is one of the best things about where I currently live.  Having friends who run with me, even if I am the turtle of the group is just cake.  It still blows my mind that it is no longer a chore to run more than 3 miles at a time, but that longer runs feel normal.

My friend Karin on our early morning hike the next morning before we started for home.  Another glorious sunrise!
Maybe someday, other forms of exercise will feel as wonderful as going for a run does.  If not, then at least I have learned to like one exercise enough to embrace the sport and make it a part of my lifestyle.  It only takes one, right?