Sunday, September 14, 2008

On Running And Being 42

I am currently 'training' for a half-marathon.  I put training in quotes because I'm not a very serious runner, and I haven't yet signed up for the race.  My friend Heather recruited me, then weasled out of it (it's not actually her fault.  She had girly surgery.  She's the least apt-to-quit person I know.)  As I was running/thinking, it occurred to me that running at age 42 is way different than running at age 17 (the last time I trained for a race - my senior year in high school).
*When I was in high school, we wanted cute boys to see us running, so we ran past the baseball team when they were practicing.  Now, I purposefully wake up at 6 a.m. and run on back roads (we're talking dirt, gravel, and bridle paths) so that no one sees me, particularly cute boys.  Once, Jason's baseball coach (nice enough, but not a cute boy) passed and recognized me while I was out running on 'the ranch' - it was horrifying.
*At 17, I only liked running with other people - friends, teammates, aforementioned cute boys.  What fun would it be if it wasn't also a social activity?  At 42, the only running partner I ever take along is my faithful buddy Max.  And my i-pod, the best running accessory ever.  I can go at my own pace ("slow"), listen to my own music, run where I want and for how long I want, and it's rather peaceful.  Except when Max chases something (gophers, my neighbor's goats....). 
*When I ran in high school, my knee often hurt.  Now, my physical pain is not just limited to my knee (I do have to say, my knee pain is probably far less frequent now than it was in high school).  It could be my right shoulder (which is pretty much wrecked from years of volleyball and backyard passing to one Jason Pappas), which is not actually caused by running, but from occasionally having to yank the dog away from something like a cat, garbage, or a dead animal.  Or it could be sciatic, which plagued me for almost a year whenever I would run, and which I affectionately refer to as 'my left butt', because that's where it hurts.  It could be an ankle that gets a good twist on the bridle path, or an arch, or my arthritic big toe (just like Shaq!!).  There's just no end to the things that could hurt (thankfully they don't all hurt at the same time.  In fact, I hesitate to say it lest I jinx myself, but I've been amazingly pain-free lately).  It makes running at 42 a big adventure!
*Since I did my high-school training in Arizona (desert), after school (inferno temperatures), I never saw any kind of wildlife, besides an occasional lizard.  But living where we do, and running in the early morning is like running in a zoo!  You never know what you'll come across.  I've seen the following animals - some on a daily basis: dogs, cats, chickens, goats, horses, donkeys, cows, deer, llamas, sheep of all varieties, turkeys wild and tame (one poor fellow always gobbles at me from a back yard play structure.  I don't think I'll be seeing him any more after Thanksgiving), gophers, a red fox (I've seen two - both were gorgeous), snakes, bunnies, mice, owls, hawks, a bald eagle (I have a photo to prove it) and of course, squirrels.  Now for those of you who know about the 'war' with squirrels going in our back yard, I have to tell you that it was a really good week for my team.  Jason and I bagged one flea-laden varmint each (with assists from the dog), and Max actually chased and caught a squirrel on one of our runs.  It made the mistake of  trying to run along a post and rail fence (causing it to be off-balance and wobbly), and its tail hung down just within reach of Max, who had fun tossing it up in the air several times after catching it and before proudly bringing it over to me (for my part, I stood there looking around to see if any PETA-types were watching, and lamely said, "Drop it.  Leave it."  over and over.)  The only down side is that I will now have to inspect the dog's behind for the next several days for any signs of tapeworm (This is my life.  This is what I do.).
*One more big difference.  Now that I am 42, and possibly because I had two babies, I keep in my pocket a little bit of toilet paper, 'just in case' (I've never had to use it - always made it back in far as you know).  Back in high school, I remember making fun of my friend Beth because she ran a 10K and the last mile or so was done with wet shorts (we were relentless - she was an exceptionally good sport).  So I guess I deserve it (my hubris again), especially since I recently laughed at a 40-or-so friend of mine who confided to me that she actually wet her pants a little when reading my blog. Serves me right I suppose.

1 comment:

Melissa Turner said...

Good for you, Gretchen! I hope you actually run the race because they are so much fun (hard to believe but they really are). Meanwhile, enjoy the peaceful mornings of jogging at your leisure.

AJ and I will be in SLO on Saturday. Any chance you and the fam will be around? We are only there for the day but it would be wonderful to see you. Maybe we could meet downtown.