Friday, January 28, 2011

To run or not to run: there is no question

The ass-beating I received on Monday night’s kettlebell class has left my quads screaming for days.  On Tuesday and Wednesday not only could I not run, I could barely walk and could only descend stairs backwards.  By Thursday the pain had subsided slightly, just enough to walk and maybe run.  The decision on whether or not to hit the gym was a tough one.  I’ve been torn between my obligation to collect miles and the growing list of reasons not to.
Yesterday morning we woke up to another foot or so of snow.  The snow topped off the 2-3 feet we already had on the ground and was just more salt in the snowy wound.  The snow has become such a burden, it’s now affecting me both physically and mentally.  Shoveling before work was a miserable start to the day.  I tried to hoist the shovels full of snow up to the top of the snow banks, which were now well over my head. 
While working at home, I had to balance a crummy day of work with snow removal.  A certain someone got the plow truck stuck in a snow bank and we spent a good hour trying to shovel it out.  When that didn’t work, that certain plow driver took my car to work.  That left me locked at home with work, a stuck plow truck, a ton of snow all over the place, and a serious case of the grouchies.  Eventually a wrecker winched out the truck, at which time I got the envious job of plowing the yard and digging out every nook and cranny around the house and barn.  Even the horses seemed to be pleading with me to get them out of the knee deep snow.  We are all on the edge.  When I finally came in the house from 2.5 hours of shoveling, my back was burning and I could barely stand up straight. 
I had promised myself that no matter what, I was going to make it to the gym tonight.  Unfortunately I didn’t consider all the possible interferences (the lousy long work day, the 2.5 hours of shoveling, the plowing, the not having a car until 7pm).  Not to mention the fact that my legs were still burning from kettlebell.  I had tons of reasons not to run, but one reason to run: I had to.  It was that simple.  I didn’t want to go through all the hoops of dressing and packing and driving all the way there, but for whatever reason, I just simply had to do it.  I arrived at the nearly empty gym at 8:30pm, and ran 3 miles while watching Wipeout.  What a great show to watch when you’ve had a bad day.  There’s something so satisfying in watching people mangle themselves trying to maneuver through obstacles and inevitably crashing into a horrific pile of mud.  While it was only 3 miles, considering the day I had, I think it was a big win.  I had every reason not to run and I ran anyways.  Afterwards, I felt so renewed.  It reset my mind frame and for that brief moment in time, I wasn’t the snow bound, snow shoveling, snow plowing snowman living in the land of snow hell. 
Today I worked in the office (after yesterday’s snow debacle, I needed some serious structure and focus on the job).  I packed my gym bag with three different outfits: winter running clothes, treadmill running clothes, and yoga clothes.  If everything went according to plan, I would be running on my lunch break, and then hitting a yoga class after work.  If for some reason I couldn’t get to yoga on time, and I couldn’t run on my lunch break, then the backup plan would be to run on the treadmill again.  Work proved to be a bigger disaster than yesterday, and again I had a hundred reasons not to run on my lunch break.  But today I had something else: peer pressure.  My lunchtime buddies were running and insisted I come along.  I again was torn between the zillions of issues I had at work and running.  As much as I wanted to run, it made me feel guilty about the amount of time I would be away from my desk.  My buddies insisted that my day would be better if I ran, I wouldn’t regret it, and I’d come back refreshed and twice as productive.  After some mild cajoling, I caved.
Our lunchtime run was lots of fun today.  After enduring ridiculous amounts of snow and unbearably cold temperatures, it was great to be outside in the sunshine and warmer temps (30!).  The roads were still too narrow to run on, so we could only run the one mile loop in the parking lot around the building.  Most of the parking lot was well plowed and treated, except for the quarter mile section that still had a good 4 inches of snow, on top of ice.  We had to very carefully maneuver our way through the tire tracks and snow and ice, which only added to the adventure.  Todd wears the 5-toe Vibrams, so his footprints through the snow resembled bear claws.  (Or in Todd's case, maybe extra large puppy tracks?)  I just got the biggest kick out of this.  It was so enjoyable to run outside, in the sun, with friends.  I’ve been spending so much time running solo on the treadmill lately.  Running with these guys reminds me how much I’ve really missed this camaraderie and vitamin D.  We chattered about work, upcoming race calendars, sordid gossip, and discussed who we felt were the best looking celebrities.  Jaimee and I both agreed on Bradley Cooper.  I forget what Todd said, because I was distracted with images of Bradley Cooper.  Both of them expressed concerns about how their spouses were going to react to their upcoming races, as if they were telling them they were going to spend the weekend at Foxwoods with their college frat brothers.  I’m glad I don’t have those same limitations.  The only one I have to work my running schedule around is Rocco, which is why I don’t run a lot of Sunday races in the Spring-to- Fall timeframe.  Rocco doesn’t give a hoot at how many races I run otherwise, because he’s tucked in his stall and enjoying his winter hiatus from riding. 
My legs were still sore from kettlebell, and if I were running alone I probably would have stopped after the first or second lap.  But with my friends encouraging me, I made four laps around the building.  A four mile run at lunch was exactly what I needed.  Sure, when I got back to my desk I had a zillion more things to do and a zillion people looking for me.  But it all seemed a little easier to tolerate.  Which is great, because my day went two hours long, my commute was two hours home, and the yoga pants remained in the bag.  I guess sometimes I just have to take what I can get. 

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