Saturday, March 10, 2007

Days to remember when things seem dark

I wanted to jump on this morning and post something that would remind me of good things one day when things seem hard.

I set out on my own for a 45 minute run this morning from Freyberg. Allie had left her shoes at work, so wasn't able to join me. It was an absolutely stunning late summer morning, with a light Northerly that had disappeared off my radar by the time I rounded Pt Jerningham.

The carpark was full of people stretching, pulling road bikes out of their cars, stripping off wetsuits. This is one of the best things for me about my multisport training - the sense of being part of a wider community. We have a connection, and there is always something to talk about, even though we might never have met before.

By the time I reached Balaena Bay I realised that I was feeling amazingly good. My legs still felt really strong, and there was no sense of having worked them really hard over the last couple of days. There was no trace of a stitch and my breath felt relaxed and even. Although it was hot I didn't let that fact sink too deeply into my consciousness. Instead I took the opportunity of some alone-time on the pavement to closely observe the neighbourhood around me.

A woman jogging with her dog flew past, then a short while later I passed her as she tried to pull him away from an interesting odour. She ran off ahead of me again, then a little while later I passed her struggling with her dog again. She didn't pass me again. I satisfied my nosey side by taking a close look at the houses clinging to the side of the hill to my right. I noted the crazy paths, death-defying cable cars and huge decks on which lucky inhabitants were drinking coffee in the sun. To my left the water was clear and calm. Small waves were breaking on the shore and sprats jumped enmass from the water. I looked closely, but couldn't see a larger fish chasing them. Perhaps they were just jumping from the joy of the gorgeous morning.

Suddenly I was at Greta Point. 20 minutes had flown by and I was still feeling fantastic. I ran a few minutes' longer, then turned and continued back at the same steady pace. When I reached Balaena Bay again I was still feeling great (how different from last Saturday), so I crossed the road and headed up Maida Vale Rd. I climbed quickly up the hill, enjoying the shade of overhanging trees, and watching the harbour open up beneath me. The climb felt easy, unstrained. When I reached Carlton Gore it almost seemed a shame to be running back downhill again.

Back onto the Parade. I was still feeling great. I realised that if someone had said at that point that I was only halfway into my run that I would have been fine with that and quite happily kept going. I did toy with the idea of making the most of things and going out for longer, but in the end I pulled up at Freyberg a few minutes short of 50, my breathing barely elevated. I took a quick drink, noted in amazement that I still felt fantastic, and wandered off to the carpark to stretch. I don't think I was running any more slowly than usual. I think that I've simply been working really hard on my strength and fitness, and that it's finally paying off.

Pausing to stop by a woman stretching her calves we struck up a conversation. She had run for just over an hour, and was waiting for her husband to finish his own run. We compared running routes and chatted for a while until he reappeared. I wished them well, jumped in my car, and headed off to the supermarket.

In the supermarket I loaded up on fresh fruit and vegetables and, in the meat section, gave in to the appeal of red meat. A desire for red meat is a sure sign for me that I'm training hard. It toally disappears when I'm inactive. Right now I'm planning for Hamish and I to have a barbeque dinner!

In the supermarket queue the woman behind me, in her fifties and reasonably overweight, took a look at me (still in my running gear), glanced at my purchases, and commented on how healthy everything looked. She asked me if I'd just been for a run, and what I normally did each week. I told her, then rushed to add that she shouldn't use me as a benchmark as I'm kind of obsessive. We got talking about her own attempts to exercise and lose weight, and we discussed some of the items I was buying. My secret weapon - light evaporated milk. You can make up a lovely creamy pasta sauce with none of the fat. I told her about my weight loss, and about how I'd started out training for the Special K duathlon. I told her about my own mother - 57 and now running on the treadmill in preparation to complete the SPARC duathlon with me this year.

I finished that by suggesting she find a friend to cycle the SPARC for her, and that she do the two walking stages. She seemed genuinely interested, so I hope she enters.

Having had two inspirational conversations with complete strangers I happily toddled off to the car. Unloading everything at the other end I then bumped into my neighbour. Eight shopping bags in hand we laughed at how I'd just been for a run and was finishing off with strength training.

Exercise, a beautiful day, laughter. This is what I want to remember when things seem dark. I want to remember that life really is good.

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