The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Still At It – pt. 1

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I’ve made it a habit to run a 5K on Thanksgiving morning for the last few years.  It’s a good practice to be in, especially if you’re interested in gorging yourself on turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, two kinds of pie…  you get the picture.  It seems that where ever I have been on Thanksgiving morning, I’ve been able to find a 5K.  This last Thursday, I had only to drive to the other side of Gurnee and run one that is in its 18th year.  More on that later.

A good run anyhow is going to burn a ton of calories, and act as a preventive against future calories.  For me, that 5K burns around 400 calories, but will keep my metabolism up quite a bit for the next several hours, so calories will be burned at a more effecient rate than if I had merely sat on the couch and watched football while stuffing myself with turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and two kinds of pie.  So bully for me for finding away to cheat the calorie system a little bit and gorge with relative impunity.

But running has become more difficult as I’ve gotten older, and a lot of those difficulties for me go back the 5K I ran on Thanksgiving morning in 2007.  I chronicled the experience (or, more appropriately, over-chronicled it) on Thanksgiving 2008 when I started to make a habit of writing about running on Thanksgiving.  The 2007 5K marked a dark day in my life as a runner, made all the more darker by my jackass stubborness–which is actually one of the benefits I get from running.  This is pretty complicated–running makes you stronger in the legs, heart, and mind, but it can also turn those strengths of mind into weaknesses if you rely on them too heavily or overestimate them, which is what I did.  I didn’t pay attention to my injury, and it knocked me out of running for almost 2 years.  That coincided with turning 40, which I think universally is the great reconciliation with mortality, and I ended up rebuilding myself physically and mentally without really having that intention.  But therein is where the writer appears:  You have to go with what you feel, and go as far as you can with it.

The result has been that right now I’m stronger and healthier than I’ve ever been, and running with joy I’ve never felt.  But I’ve also become hypercompetitive, taking 5K races seriously and pushing to consistently outdo myself and as many others as possible during the race.  That hasn’t been so bad per se; I’ve topped myself out at 23:30 for the distance, and hit that twice in the last 6 months.  I hurt my foot and was out of the race scene over the summer, but quickly regained my stride once things were sorted out.  But I’ve also freaked myself out in the middle of races a few times, thinking that I’m running so hard that it’s not my legs or feet that will fail me, but my heart.  It never pounds harder than it does at the mile and half mark, and I’ve panicked at that point a few times thinking that I’m pushing myself too hard and that I’m going to end up in the hospital, or worse.  Some recent happenings at my school have exacerbated that mindset.  We had a teacher drop dead at home last spring from a heart problem.  He was 7 years younger than me, and in at least decent health.  Another teacher just as young had a heart attack just three weeks ago.  Thankfully, he’s okay.  Nonetheless, those types of events land in your lap with a heavy thud and can stay anchored in your mind.

Finishing races and feeling no ill effects has been no solace.  Getting a full physical and EKG has been no solace.  I pushed all the way to getting a stress test at a cardiologist, thinking that once the expert tells me that things are fine, I will finally believe it and my mind can be at peace.  So that’s what I did.



Written by seeker70

November 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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