Saturday, January 23, 2010

Settling In

L:ast Sunday I went for a run with my new running friend Donna at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. I'd never been there before, let alone run there, and I was delighted and amazed that such a wonderful place exists. It's like this little woodsey oasis out in the middle of suburbia - a wilderness escape smack dab in the middle of civilization.

As we started out on the run, the enthusiasm for my newly discovered mini-paradise receeded a bit as I had difficulty "getting the engine started." In fact, it felt like the first time I'd ever run - my legs were achy and my breath was short. My "I-don't-do-mornings" voice chimed in with the helpful suggestion to stop running, get back in the car and go home. After all, the weather wasn't the best (although it wasn't raining for once) and it was early and really, wouldn't crawling back into bed for a nice little nap be wonderful? 

Donna was trotting right along about twenty feed ahead of me, unaware of the great psychological battle going on in my head. I had to keep up with her - as the only one of the two of us possessing pockets, she had my car keys and I didn't want to lose sight of her, being in an unfamiliar place. But I really did want to quit, with all countries heard from at that point - the pillars of lead underneath my hips, the lungs still adjusting to the crisp morning air, the brain a bit foggy and not really into it at all. I kept stopping to walk, angry with myself for doing it, yet needing to catch my breath or simply not continue.

Finally the "you-can-do-this" voice started breaking through, ostensibly due to the fact that the blood was now sufficiently circulating through my grey matter enough to wake it up. The fog cleared, my legs limbered up and the lungs adjusted to the chill, and gradually I fell into a comfortable pace and quit feeling like I was going to fall over.

Now that I could concentrate on something other than discomfort, I began to soak in the beauty of the place. We were running on a dirt trail that was springy soft with wet leaves and pine needles - it felt like running on foam. All around us the trees towered overhead, dripping rainwater that cooled my skin. Squirrels and chipmunks were everywhere, scrambling across our path and barreling though the underbrush on the sides of the trail and up into the trees. We had fun splashing through puddles and navigating the gooey parts of the trail, looping around the park for a full hour. As we stretched out in the parking lot, ready to carry on with the rest of our day, I couldn't help but feel quite proud of myself. My persistence had been well-rewarded.

In the course of my life, there have been many times in which I've started to do something hard, and at the first sign of difficulty, I would cave in to the pessimist that seems permanently camped out in a corner of my head and give up. In fact, if I had a dime for every time I've felt like quitting because it was too hard, I would be sitting on my own beach in the caribbean, my most pressing concern being whether to have the prime rib or the lobster for dinner. But this one thing - this running thing - I've soldiered on with it because I know it's something I can do, and I know that once I get the blood going and the various body parts on board, I enjoy it immensely.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and Donna and I will be meeting at the Nature Park in the morning to go for our weekly long run. I imagine it will probably be hard for me to get going, as usual, with the lazy parts whining about whatever and the negative voice doing its damndest to change the itinerary. So I will look it in the face, shrug a bit and perhaps apologize, just to be polite - and keep on going.//

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