Thursday, 25 October 2007

First Run in Ages (and a rant from nowhere)

Yesterday I allowed Fisher to persuade me into a proper run, the like of which I haven't done since ... well, before I can remember, really. Granted, my memory is so poor I can barely remember last week (seriously - what happened last week?) but I'm pretty sure I haven't done more than a cursorary mile or so in the gym for far too long. I told myself I'd do 5k, taking it easy and just getting back into the swing of things. I thought we'd head to Tentsmuir with the dogs, but Fisher had other ideas.

Thus it was I found myself uneasily setting off, cold tendrils of fog curling about my ankles, to run up Quarry Road and back. Fisher wanted to go further, only turning back once we'd reached the little village on the other side of the hill, but I firmly announced my intention of only doing 5k. I agreed to see how it went and go further if I could, but I so no sense in setting myself too much of a challenge after such a long break.

It was horribly cold to being with. Fisher has been waiting a long time for the weather to turn like this, as she hates running in the sun, but even she was meeping about not having enough clothing. I was too agreeably surprised by not wanting to collapse immediately to really mind the temperature that much, and the world was astonishingly beautiful under a white layer of mist. As we jogged steadily up the long hill, we saw cobwebs glistening like silver in the hedgerows, which detracted slightly from the horror that is the last ten yards of that goddam' rise. What's even more depressing is that you know it's only the first of many. Running up that hill isn't as bad as Arthur's Seat, but it's a close call.

Once you've reached the top of the long hill, you then have the chance to catch your breath a little with a long, flat stretch. Then you turn a corner and, without fail, the next hill catches you by surprise. It's always steeper and longer than you expect. Then it's downhill for about 20 yards, finishing Quarry Road on just over 1.5 miles - meaning you have to turn and go straight back uphill if you want to do 5k. Partly because I simply couldn't face another uphill so soon, and partly because the slow pace I'd set meant I still felt pretty good, stamina wise, I agreed to go into the village with Fisher.

Unfortunately, this means yet another couple of hills - culminating with one of the steepest, albeit shortest, at the very end. My lungs burning, stomach churning, I was once again wondering what in the name of living arse possessed me to go out running? It's, without a doubt, the stupidest thing in the world.

Thankfully, once we'd turned it was pretty much all downhill, save for one long stretch of unpleasant uphill which takes you back onto Quarry Road.

My knees started to object as I hit Quarry Road again, no doubt still reeling from the climbing of t'other day, but on the whole I felt ok. We had to pause a couple of times due to traffic blocking the way, and then warning other traffic of the blockage, which leads me to take a conservative 15 seconds off the end time. When we finished I was seriously knackered but very, very pleased with myself. After a long break, to still be able to do 4 miles in the not truly humiliating time (for me) of 47.53 was an immense boost.

I've learned somthing interesting - and not particularly flattering - about myself since taking up running, and that is just how much justification I allow myself in times of failure. If I don't succeed in a run it's because, oh, I didn't eat the right food, or it's that time of the month, or the dog slowed me down. Sometimes these reasons might be true, but all too often they're just excuses. And it's not just in running, either. All too often I refuse to hold myself accountable for not doing something because I can think of several external reasons keeping me from my goal. In the end, I know perfectly well that if I want something I can combat almost anything in order to get it. There are very few obstacles in life that can't be surmounted with a little imagination and drive. I've no shortage of the former, but the latter needs some work.

First, make a decision. That's truly the hard part. It's commitment, and that's a little scary. But once the decision is made, there is no obstacle that need get in the way. Nothing is unbeatable (well, except the rock-hard cream I found in the fridge the other day). The only question that's relevant is "how much do I want it?" and what I'll suffer to get it.

In some ways, pride is a good thing - but I can't help but feel it's more of a hinderance than a help. I think pride restricts rather than liberates, keeping people bound to conventions that, in the grand scheme of things, are utterly irrelevant. You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, but I think it's more important to understand your own mores rather than just to accept the restrictions of society at face value.

Hm. Not sure where that came from, but it's been on my mind for a while, in a convoluted sort of way.

Anyway ... Fisher and I might go to aquafit tonight. We've been trying to get in touch with Fonda, but no response for weeks now. Hope all ok there, and she's off on some dirty getaway with the newly brought to heel boyfriend.