|Posted by Clay Williams on January 6, 2015 at 12:40 AM|
Tuesday has been a special day for me for the past eight or nine years. On Tuesday evenings, through most of the year, I help organize and support a small group of people who are taking the Alpha course at my church, a program for new Christians and seekers. And just during the past year, Tuesday morning has become an equally special day. Since I usually go for a long run or two in the weekend, I often find myself making an excuse not to run on Mondays. I’m sore, I don’t want to get an overuse injury, I need recovery time, I need to catch up at work, ow my Achilles tendon hurts, oh is that knee pain, I don’t FEEL like getting dressed to run. So Tuesday morning is a MUST day for running. I face the same doubts and pains and excuses on Tuesdays, but there’s much more of an imperative to get out because I can’t fool myself into thinking I’ll go for an evening run. I’ve run the same route for almost a year now, and have a routine that seldom varies much…..
The alarm nudges me out of slumber, like someone in a distant conversation saying my name. Confused I wonder what the issue is. The alarm gets louder, slapping me to wakefulness, commanding me to move my limbs to make it stop, reach, push the button. Deep breath, roll onto my back, gently push the blankets aside so that I don’t disturb my sweetheart. In a ritual that I've repeated thousands of times I bring my left knee to my chest, hold for 30 seconds, pulling up my pelvis as much as possible. Then do the same for the right. Then a slow rotating lower back stretch to the left, hold for 30 seconds, then the right. Then flat on my back, pull both knees to my chest tighten the core, hold for 30 seconds, slowly, carefully straighten up, then sit up, stand up, hope for no back pain. My knees and ankles snap and crack as they start to bear my weight after the long rest. I close the door as quietly as possible as I leave the bedroom, and go across the hall to “my office”, the place where all my stuff is. My business, by clothes, my running things, my computer stuff, photography stuff, my stuff. I pop my pills; glucosamine, multivitamin, vitamin D, bitter cherry, and wash it down with a power drink. Turn on the laptop, enter the password then visit the washroom with Playbook in hand (Blackberry Playbook, not Playboy). There’s just enough time to start loading podcasts to listen to during my 70 minute drive to and from work. CBC As It Happens, Urban Christian News Network, Food Channel, BBC Biz Daily, TED talk, Beachbody coach podcast. Then I spend as little time as possible checking Facebook, Twitter, email, Linkedin, trying not to get sucked into a funny cat video or treadmill fails series. Most important, check the Weather Network so I can run into the wind for the first part of my run, and have the wind at my back for the last. Mix a quick protein shake, and drink it as I’m getting dressed. Base layer, tech layer, cotton layer, windbreaker, reflective top layer, house key in my left pocket, cellphone in my right ready to start my running app. LED light in my left hand, I head out the door, set the target distance to 16 km and press Start. Running west, slowly at first, loosening up, shaking out the cobwebs, I remember to take care just past the next door neighbor’s driveway, there’s a raised sidewalk block where I tripped and fell once. Feet lifted high, slight incline, not breathing yet, remind myself to breathe, breathe more! A couple hundred meters and I’m out onto the main road, overhanging branches, keep my head down, standing water on the sidewalk keep my feet up, watch for ice. When it’s bad on the sidewalk I’ll run on the street, it’s safe on the street except for the cars. Getting close to the first church, running app says “one kil-o’-meter in 6 minutes xx seconds, expected finish time 1 hour xx minutes”. Yikes, I was a little slower than I thought, I should pick up the pace. Turn right at the lights, watch for drivers running the red light, another slight uphill, breathing better now. Second church, two kilometers, that’s better, this is going to be a good run. Going past the next tree, watch out for the raised sidewalk block where I tripped and fell once, 54 year-olds aren’t made for falling down.
Left turn at the stop sign, country road now, narrow shoulder, watch for cars, the road is flat, the footing is good, my mind can wander now. Step and breathe, exhale for two steps, inhale for two steps, repeat. What’s going on at work today? How can I prepare? Who do I need to talk with? What do I need to say? What’s my sweetheart doing today? Does she need any help? What’s that pain in my foot? Good, it’s gone now. Oh a hill, breathe a little more, slow down a touch, pick it up again at the top, keep stepping and breathing. Right turn at the stop sign, watch for cars coming up the hill too fast, watch for cars turning right that don’t see pedestrians out here. Look for the Mighty Mouse statue, there it is, almost half way. Over one more little rise and 8 km done, half way, feeling much better now than at the start, warmed up, equilibrium reached, tuned, relaxed, time to push a little more, pick it up for the second half, negative splits, push just a little more, a little more. 12 km slight uphill, it feels steeper than it looks, can’t slow down, I can rest when I get to the top. Nice! A Mennonite horse-drawn buggy, if it’s a heavy load I can try to keep up or keep ahead. Wow, they’re going faster than I hoped, try to keep up, push a little more, keep pushing, open up my stride, stretch it out some, feels great! Wow, can’t breathe now, that took more effort than I thought, but I did it for a while, I kept up for a while, I’m good with that. 14 km, two small hills in the last 2 km, need to keep up the pace, finish strong, don’t give in to the urge to walk, the best benefit of this run is in these last two km, keep running, keep pushing, forget the aching, it won’t get any worse than this, it’ll go away when I’m finished. Turn right at the lights, run through the ruts, don’t turn an ankle, keep up the pace, right at the lights again, then across the street so I’m facing oncoming traffic. Two more little hills to go, just keep up the pace, I’m stronger than this hill, I’m tougher than this minor fatigue, I’m the master of this body, this machine that I’m driving. Finish strong! Running app says: “fifteen kilometers”, one last hill, it’s just a little incline, keep running, keep pushing, I can recover when I’m at home, finish the last km faster than the first, go, go, go!! “You have reached your goal” says the small voice from my running app. Yeah baby, negative splits, second half was 4 minutes faster than the first, THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about! I’m alive now, slow to a walking pace for the last 50 meters, I’m ready for whatever the day brings me.