When I was a kid and my family used to watch the antique form of television that was around in those days, there used to be a well-known ad for Timex watches. John Cameron Swayze, an authoritative announcer-type, would strap a $5 Timex onto an outboard motor. The motor would then be lowered into the water and the watch would be dragged around some lake until it was thoroughly abused. Amazingly, when Swayze unhooked the unfortunate watch it was still keeping perfect time. “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!” Swayze would say.
The same can be said of my poor, bedraggled 61-year-old body. Week Seven of Couch to 5K and I’m still going. This morning I completed my second 25 minute run. In the interest of complete disclosure, I do have to admit one slight cheat. My run takes me into our small town and the last five minutes or so slope sharply downhill. But hey....I never would have believed I could go for 25 minutes straight whether it was uphill, downhill, or on a pogo stick. At the end of the run, I cool down by walking back into the center of town for coffee from our local Starbucks. I am too sweated up to sit inside, so I perch on one of the wooden steps next door. I find that my mind is in a pleasantly dazed state so it’s just as well that I’m sitting alone without the opportunity for conversation.
When I read other people’s blogs about running, they always say that the first mile of their run is difficult and that things become “effortless” after that. I haven’t gotten to effortless yet, but I do notice a phenomenon that occurs after about 15 minutes of running. In my own mind I call it “Tootsie Roll legs”. When I first start running, my legs feel like inflexible sticks and I’m uncomfortably aware of my joints and muscles. After a while, I suppose it’s because of blood flow into the area, my legs start to feel more like firm-bendable Tootsie Rolls. Once that happens, it’s a lot easier to let my mind wander and just keep on going.
This week, I decided to try departing from the Robert Ullrey podcasts and running with my own Ipod selection. That didn’t turn out so well. I’m finding that I like music that is continuous and not necessarily all that familiar. That kind of selection lets my mind go outside of my body. Although I really love listening to Rick James and my work -out version of “Rock the Casbah,” I get too caught up in what’s coming up next. I also find that I really miss the cues that Ullrey puts into his podcasts. He interrupts the music to tell you when you’ve gone half way or when you’ve got a few minutes to go. And then he congratulates you at the end. It’s so ridiculous, but that canned congratulations means a lot!! Do any of you runners out there have suggestions for finding good music for longer runs?
So, I’ve gotten all the way to Week Seven. For those of you who are following this saga, let me assure you that it is do-able. If you have not been very active before starting C25K though, I would suggest that you take your time advancing through the various weeks. There’s no rule that says you can’t spend three weeks on “Week One” or two weeks on “Week Five,” a strategy that I believe would lead to more people successfully getting to goal.
Apart from my new running career, the other major event in our household has been the arrival of spring chicks. Don likes to raise turkeys that he free-ranges and gives away to friends at Thanksgiving. We haven’t had chickens on the farm for several years, but we decided to bring them back in order to get those nice organic eggs. We also constructed a raised bed garden this year in the hopes of getting better produce. Our gardens tend to be destroyed by rabbits, moles, raccoons and deer. We’ re hoping that elevating the beds will make that less likely. We also put the vegetables in an area where our dog Toby can easily patrol. As you see, he is quite frightening and almost any animal would be intimidated by him.
But back to the chicks. Don orders them by mail from a hatchery. When they arrive, I will receive a panicky 7 a.m. call from our local post office.
“You have a load of chickens here!” they will say. In the background, I can hear a cacophony of peeps. “Please come get them soon!!”
Then I drive to the post office and knock on a secret door in the back. They gratefully hand over the small brown box studded with airholes. It’s making a whole lot of noise. Returning home, I remove the tiny chicks one by one from their crowded prison. Holding each firmly, I dip their beaks into water to make sure they are hydrated. Then I set each one free. We have set up a heat lamp to keep the babies warm, but for the moment, they ignore the comfort zone. They jump and flutter their tiny wings and immediately start pecking the ground for food. By the time I leave them, they have finished exploring and are huddled in a warm, furry mass under the bulb.
As spring goes on, things will grow. The adorable yellow chicks will turn into enormous, demanding turkeys and clucking, self-righteous chickens. My tiny broccoli plants will become huge, my rows of spinach will bolt. The lawn will become unmanageable. And I will run further and perhaps enter my first 5K. Chances are there will be setbacks and injuries as I grow bigger as a runner. Spring brings the opportunity to start the cycle all over again. Even though we know that life is ultimately messy, we relish the chance to start once more. So drag your projects and challenges out into the June sunlight. Hose off your dreams and give them a chance to breathe anew.