Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Running at the Speed of Jog

I started running a few years ago. I didn't start it for fun or because I was running from anything. I was inspired by a woman I met on the Disneyland tram who said she had lost a bunch of weight by just getting up and...running. I figured if she could do it, so could I. So I got up one morning and ... ran. "Ran" is maybe a generous overstatement. It wasn't fast or even graceful, but it was putting one foot in front of another faster than a walk.

As the days went by, my form improved, I wasn't huffing and puffing for breath as quickly, and I could go further each time. I always felt great when I was done -- mostly because I was done. But also because it was a huge accomplishment for the day. If I could get up that day and run I was already ahead of the game.

I eventually mapped out a route in my neighborhood, working up from a one mile jog to a three-mile run. I refined it to work perfectly with my (then) favorite playlist so that I would have the right song to warm up and stretch to after a brief three block jog, then some nice flat roads, a perfect beat and length of time song for the last huge incline, and a high energy song to get me through the last half mile.

It's nice to run, but it's not fun. At least, it's not fun until after I'm done. Then, dripping sweat and panting, I feel a certain pride at having run my three miles in less than 35 minutes and got my exercise in for the day.

I've seen some nice things on my early morning runs. It's nice having the road (mostly) to myself. I can run on the asphalt instead of the cement, see the sun rise or the moon set, say hello to my buddy Orion, and just have some quality alone time and do some meditation.

My least favorite part of it is going past the old lady's house who obviously owns too many pets and doesn't believe in proper canine or feline hygiene. Depending on which way the wind is blowing that day I can either hold my breath as I run directly past her house, or catch it on the flip side when I'm on the street opposite hers. The fact that I can smell it literally a block away gives you an idea of the strength of the stench.

There were two awesome things about today's run. I saw a coyote on Brighton Street. Not only saw, but got within 10 yards of it as he turned around to head back up to the hills. Pretty cool.

The second thing was that I got caught on radar. Not as breaking any laws certainly, but more than a blip too, I think. There's a "Your Speed" sign with a digital readout attached to a radar machine right in front of an elementary school. It's a recent addition to the neighborhood. Today as I "ran" past it, It flashed a big digital SIX on its readout. I looked around, and I was the only moving object on the street, so there you have it. Pretty cool, huh?

So turn off your TV, get off the couch and go for a run! You never know what you're going to discover in your neck of the woods.