Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just Call Me a Winter Weather Wimp

Jan. 30, 2013

Today I am 194.4 pounds of rolling thunder -- although given certain dramatic climate changes I'd say it will be more like spinning-in-the-basement thunder.

Was it just two days ago when I shed my shirt and went from man to manatee (think great big, slow-moving white mammal) in just one run on a 70-plus degree day? 

Not so much today. Bitter cold and blowing snow have replaced that little glimpse of mid-winter paradise. Just a splash of fool's gold in the midst of another bleak Midwestern winter.

Now I'm a recovering cold-weather wimp, so I was impressed that I forced myself out of the comfort of my snuggly house on Tuesday and went for a run in a 40-degree rain. It's probably one of the 12 steps in my recovery, but I've started and stopped so many times I've lost track. It's just good to know that I recognize that there is a problem.

I love running in the rain. There's something about it that changes the experience. Even familiar running routes seem different in the rain. They sound different with the cool rain pelting your glasses and soaking your toes. They look different under the gray skies and the hope that the next row of trees will get you out from under the drizzle, if only momentarily.

Rain, even cold rain, makes the experience worthwhile.

Even better is a good run on a warm, rainy day -- but only without lightning and thunder. I'm brave, but not stupid.

Maybe it's the kid inside of me, but I like that feeling of getting soaked by the rain on a hot day. It cools you down while the running heats you up. It's kind of a nice blend between the best of the two.

But this won't be the case today. A little bit of snow and blustery winds that have the wind-chill in the single digits, so I'm wimping out and staying inside.

And if my in-box is any indication, I might be lucky to get that spin in.

Monday, January 28, 2013

From Man to Manatee in One Run

Jan. 28, 2013

Today I am 192.2 pounds of rolling thunder.

So today was one of those rare mid-winter days when a warm breeze blows into town, and all over the city windows are flying open and curtains are being pulled wide apart to let the sunshine in.

The humid air felt more like a pre-storm day in April than a typical dry cold day in late January.

If you heard those emergency sirens today, perhaps you thought they were coming for me. We've all heard about the whales that beach themselves for no known reason, and then the entire population of some resort town on the coast spends days and dollars trying to get the beast safely back out to sea.

It was so warm today I decided to launch my run today wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Gone were the double layers of tights and sweat pants. Gone were the days of donning a T-shirt, turtleneck, pullover and a jacket just to stay warm. Gone were the headband and hat combining to keep my ears warm.

Today was back to the freedom of summer. And back, too, were those pearly white legs that hadn't seen sunlight since late autumn. I'm sure the glare blinded many a driver as I rolled slowly past them on my 6-mile run/walk.

It's a real feeling of freedom when you can give up the trappings of winter, lose the heavy clothes and run unencumbered, even if it's just for a day.

Somewhere around mile No. 4 I went from man to manatee. It was so warm that I shed my shirt and became something resembling the giant marine mammal.

Surely there were villagers who were going to rush up and try to put me back in the ocean (it's OK, I live thousands of miles from the ocean). Surely if I slowed to a stop they'd be sure I had beached myself in the hope of being saved.

No, it was just the world's slowest human running sans shirt for the first time in months and not a manatee. Call off the sirens. Townspeople go back to work. Nothing to see here. Just a guy, his radio and a pair of running shoes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happiness is a Manner of Traveling

Jan. 26, 2013

Today I'm 195.0 pounds of rolling thunder.

I've always been a sap for inspirational quotes. Whether it was some hackneyed cliché that a coach posted on the wall in high school or something I've stumbled across in my reading or email, I've always been moved to action by a line well written.

Margaret Lee Runbeck
Today the quote "Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling," bounced into my inbox. It's from American author Margaret Lee Runbeck.

The thought reminded me of a book I bought years ago titled "The Journey is the Destination," which chronicles the life of photojournalist Dan Eldon through his journals. The book is the legacy of an artist who was killed just as his creativity was starting to gain recognition.

So today will be another great winter running day and my journey and destination will be the familiar sidewalks of my neighborhood. The skies are sunny and clear and the temperatures should climb well into the 40s, so I'll be out there putting one foot in front of the other.

I often remind myself that the daily journey, whether it's running, enjoying my family or talking with friends is all part of the marvelous fabric that makes up the journey.

I'll admit that it's hard some days to separate the pools of despair that we all feel during the dark days of winter from the promise of the spring, just as it's difficult to overcome the setbacks and frustrations in our lives that are contrasted by our triumphs and successes.

We are strivers by nature. We are hard-wired to find better jobs, bigger houses and generally accumulate more stuff. 

Runbeck, who died in 1956, wrote: "Giving is a necessity sometimes... more urgent, indeed, than having."

Somewhere along the journey we've lost our way. Nearly 60 years have passed since Runbeck's death and if anything we've become accustomed to having more stuff.

We often fail to stop and enjoy the process of life. Perhaps the sacrifice in all our modern advances is that we've lost the gift of appreciating just being. Our generation of smart phones, flat-screen TV's and GPS watches prohibits us from sitting and listening to a clock tick while sitting in a quiet circle and talking with our aunts, uncles and grandparents.

In running, sometimes it's the pain you feel in your body or the euphoria that falls upon you after a good jog that are the reward -- the journey is the destination. Or maybe the reward is running on a new, unfamiliar path -- the road less-traveled, if you will.

For almost all of us, it's easy to fall into the familiar patterns of life: wake up, go to work, run, TV, sleep. Get up and do it again and then wonder where our lives have gone.

Today I'm 195 pounds of rolling thunder, and I'm going to do my best to embrace the journey while I let life wash over me. 

Remember, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

197 pounds! Elfkins be damned!

Jan. 24, 2013

Good grief, did I swallow a whale in my sleep or what?

Today I am 197.2 pounds of rolling blubber. 

The scale gremlins have been at it once again. I must be retaining water.

OK, busted! Late-night cookie binging has caught up with me. But darn if those Elfkins weren't 99 cents a bag the other day, so I bought three. Now, those curious little guys from the hollow tree with their elfin magic haunt me.

This week that weight curve has been on an upswing, but normally I don't worry too much about a few pound swings either way. Much of it is due to eating, exercise intensity and the time of day I work out. And of course the scale gremlins.

Yesterday was a good one to hit the streets. It wasn't bitter cold, and the sun was shining. My time was a bit limited (OK, that's where the weight gain came from -- sorry Elfkins), so I cut my time down to 45 minutes of running/walking but I made sure to hit a couple of good hills.

I also worked out in the morning, which is a change of pace for me. I seem to do better with midday or late afternoon workouts. That could also contribute to the scales going up this morning.

E.L. Fudge: Uncommonly Good
My back is feeling better and better, so now it's a matter of getting my lungs back in agreement with the rest of my body. By the end of the fall I was doing 5- and 6-mile loops without stopping. But this back thing has thrown me off my game a bit.

But there's no need to give up and fall into the mid-winter funk that seems to have a firm grasp on people these days. I can still get up and move, and that's the blessing in all this. Even if it is a blubberous blessing, I'll take it.

Today is extra cold outside, so I think it will be a cross-training day, which means back on the bike. Hopefully, the scale gremlins will slip in during the night and reset that sucker -- Elfkins be damned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When Oprah calls, I'm answering

Jan. 23, 2013

Today I am 195.4 pounds of rolling thunder.

So Oprah called (well not really, but just suppose she did, it will make your run time go faster), and she invited me to come sit on the couch for a chat.

And while I'm not an Oprah-watching regular, I figure what the heck. She probably wants me to do a Lance Armstrong-style tell all about my use of performance enhancing tweets that I've secretly been using to further my career as a blogger, editor and online personality.

Little does she know that "will blog for food" comes closer to describing my social media career than I care to admit. But if Oprah wants me, it must be time to come clean about all my unsavory activities.

The new year isn't even a month old and already I've got grist for my somewhat twisted mill to grind. Is it just me, or are there two stories I care little about that just won't seem to go away. 

And there might be a third. I'm still trying to figure out if it's a success or failure that Michelle Obama can mix and match off-the-shelf J.Crew fashion with high-dollar custom designed clothes.

I'd think if you were the masterminds at J.Crew your cup would runneth over with good fortune these days. But wouldn't it sting just a little if you were the designer who got upstaged by off-the-shelf fashions? 

Anyway, on to more pressing matters, or at least the stories that won't go away, and you've got to ask yourself why.

The first is this whole Manti Te'ofake girlfriend thing. If this kid played football for say Slippery Rock State instead of Notre Dame, there's no way we would have ever heard anything about this. And even at Notre Dame, why do we keep hearing more and more about this hoax.

And shouldn't somebody be asking why a student-athlete with a Notre Dame education didn't have more common sense?

I guess those same people should also be asking why the networks are still so fascinated with the story.

 My second ho-hummer is Beyonce lip-syncing the "National Anthem." Who cares? If this were a great big ginormous Beyonce concert that people paid a lot to hear her sing, then yes, cry foul all you want. This was someone singing a difficult song under extreme conditions. Lots of folks prerecord the "National Anthem" for a variety of reasons.

Shouldn't we be more caught up in the history of the moment? Shouldn't there be more attention placed on the inauguration of Barack Obama for a second term?

Well thanks for inviting me, Oprah. I'm sure this will be a real ratings bonanza.

Be sure to wave at me as I go cruising by on my daily run -- who knows, I might be run-syncing the whole thing.