I went for a run today, intending to complete six miles, perhaps even seven. What a stupid idea! Well, not really, but it most definitely did not go according to plan!
I ran an out and back route, with a loop at the end, or perhaps “scrotum”would be a better word, because the map of this route, on my running map, resembles a penis. My son and I call it the “dick run”; partly because of its shape, but also because this route dicks with our minds. I don’t know why. It’s relatively flat and it’s a dedicated pedestrian trail, it is fairly scenic, running along the Napa River between downtown (the “tip”) and nearby Kennedy Park, where the “scrotum” is, then back to downtown. Perhaps it is the lack of shade, the humidity from being river side and the moist vegetation, the sun radiating off the mostly paved path, the strong headwind that seems to blow both directions, and the relative isolation. But this is a much longer six (or seven) mile run than my other, more usual six (or seven) mile route. It seems interminable every attempt. My other route is along the roadway, beginning at a park, running through neighborhoods, along a frontage road, alongside vineyards and back to the park. There are obstacles; lots of other pedestrians, including dog walkers, stroller pushers, motorized scooter chairs, walkers, joggers, runners, cyclists and tourists (they’re in a class all by themselves and present, usually, the most risk, unpredictability and uncertainty. There are also cars, taxis, buses, trucks, and limos, pulling in and out of driveways, vineyard equipment, busy intersections, etc. The run takes focus, concentration and agility, just to stay alive. The dick run doesn’t, with only the occasional homeless person emerging from the bushes to keep things interesting.
I’m training for an upcoming marathon, a full marathon, twenty-six point two miles. This is not my first marathon. I run really, really far, at an unimpressive, but consistent pace, on a fairly regular basis. My race is in three months. I’ve been kind of stuck at six (or seven) mile training runs for, well, almost a year now. It’s time to add on some mileage. Seven miles today, maybe ten miles on day this weekend. Or, then, again, maybe not.
When I run, I don’t often listen to music, I’m more of a “meditative runner”; I count my steps, usually alternating my counts from one run to another, counting eight steps one run, twelve steps another run, and ten steps yet another. Over and over, mile after mile. Sometimes punctuated with explicatives at cyclists, dogs, motorists, sprinklers, etc. Or I repeat a mantra. This sort of allows my mind to reset, in a healthy way. I think. Today went more like this; one, gasp, five, pant, one, gasp, five, pant. I made it four and a half miles and walked the rest of the way back to the car.
So what’s my excuse? It’s nigh November, and from my window, with the colorful leaves and the high, thin clouds and diffused sunshine, it looked like autumnal bliss running weather. When I got in the car and looked at the outdoor temp on my dash display, it’s nigh eighty degrees, nary a change in temperature from September, one of our warmer months. When it’s going to be eighty degrees out, I confine my running to the cooler mornings. Who knew? But, that’s a lousy excuse. I used to run in Sacramento, in the summer, and THAT’S hot!
So what’s my excuse? I wore my running tights, today, again thinking seasonally. Falsely. My running rights are comfortable, I love the compression, and I’ve worn them at eighteen degrees and was plenty warm. At seventy-eight degrees, they are torture. Add to that a black cotton t-shirt. Bad idea, I usually wear a jersey made of a breathable and moisture wicking, cooling, technical fabric, like “Dry-Fit”. The high clouds provided an illusion of autumnal coolness, but it was like running in a sauna out there today. But, really, that’s a lame excuse.
So, what’s my excuse? Why was it so tough today, more so than other days? I’ve been bad. Deviance, drinking (too much beer), not drinking (enough water), decadence, debauchery, and other assorted indiscretions, or maybe I should say sordid indiscretions. That covers the lush, the gourmand and most definitely the hedonist in me, but leaves the adventurer, well, a few miles short of a good run! I need discipline! Or I need to be disciplined! No. But I don’t just make excuses, that’s for the weak. I make adjustments. That’s for the mighty.
When the lush, the gourmand and the hedonist prevent the adventurer from her share of the stake, a balance must be sought, regained, re- established. I’m reading a book this afternoon, one my best friend, soul sister, and doppelganger, Scarlett Begonia, thrust at me, with a certain amount of disgust, at the recounting of my activities the past couple of weeks. Bitch. I mean that in an endearing, fashion, of course. So far, though, the book is quite good, quite readable, and promises some advice I think I can wrap my head around and adapt to my way of doing things. The book is called “A Life in Balance – Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness”. What are the “four roots”? S.E.L.F.; serenity, exercise, love, and food. Hello!? That’s like my life motto! Almost. Food would have to include beverage, right? As the book suggests, balance implies imperfection, it implies having to make constant adjustments to keep upright, to remain in a standing position. Balance isn’t walking a straight, unwavering, path, it is, pretty much, trying, sometimes with considerable effort, to keep from falling down, or off, or from straying hopelessly off course. For example, sometimes, if I’ve had one more beer or glass of wine than I probably should’ve, before having another, I’ll test my motor skills by trying to hold the “tree pose”, a yoga pose, similar to standing like a flamingo, on one leg, for an extended period. Balance.
Yah. It’s been a bad, bad, bad, but very good, and fun, but terrible, couple of weeks. I wondered if I could even look myself in the mirror! But I did, and I said, “Jardin! Damn! Are you a bad person for this misbehavin’? No, you’re .human. You’re only bad if you make excuses rather than adjustments.” So, as soon as I finish this beer I opened with my post-run lunch, it’s time to make a few little adjustments, get back in balance and make another run for it. No excuses. ‘Nuf said.