Sunday, October 26, 2014

November dreams with a deadline

It's been a tough couple of weeks. As I followed the Facebook posts and tweets of friends preparing to run full and half marathons last Sunday, I found myself suffering from a nasty case of "marathon envy". By Saturday afternoon, I felt nervous and excited for them and downright sorry for myself. Never mind that I hadn't registered. Never mind that I hadn't trained. Never mind that I'd made a deliberate choice to "run less" this year, my inner child was yelling that it was totally unfair that I wasn't running a marathon too. (sigh). 

All of which got me thinking about the importance of goals in my life. The truth is I need them - lots of them - just to get through an average day. I need goals to get me to the office on time in the morning, goals to keep myself from eating unhealthy snacks in the afternoon, goals to get me to bed at a reasonable hour.

And then there are work-related goals. Usually, they're set by other people but they're often arbitrary deadlines I set for myself to be sure I accomplish a reasonable amount of work each day. Other people may be able to beaver away taking pleasure in the process but not me. I need goals - real or imagined - to motivate me.

All of which likely explains why my running has been so blah lately. I haven't really had a challenging goal since Cabot Trail Relay and, as a consequence, haven't felt motivated to train well or consistently. 
And, unfortunately, it shows - in my waistline, in my pace and, most of all, in my attitude.

I was complaining to Husband the other day about how little I enjoy running these days, how my legs feel heavy and I tire more quickly than I used to. "I don't understand why I feel this way," I whined. "Do you suppose I'm sick? Or that maybe my hormones are acting up? Or is it because the summer was so busy and stressful?" His matter of fact response? "Uhm...I think maybe it's because you haven't been training all that much, Treas."  

Ouch. He was right of course. There's nothing "wrong" with me. It isn't that I'm sick, or menopausal, or stressed. It's that I  haven't been training consistently, and the only way to fix that is to get back into running more regularly, eating right, drinking less, and sleeping more. There's no magic bullet or quick fix. To regain strength, flexibility and endurance, I simply have to do the work.   

All of which was on my mind when I headed out the door for my long run last Sunday. It was a glorious fall day - mild, dry and sunny. I ran 12k thinking about what running meant to me and how I clearly needed new goals if I was going to get back into shape. I was also thinking about whether I wanted to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. (For those who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's a 30 day writing challenge in which participants attempt to write the a 50,000 word first draft of a novel. I "won" the challenge the past two years, but have yet to edit either of the draft novels I produced.) 

Running beside the river, drinking in the spectacular autumn colours (see my last post for photos I took later that day), it occurred to me that I could kick-start both my running and my writing by doubling up on my goals - write an average of 1333 words and run or walk or at least 5k every day in November. 

I know. It sounds ridiculous. Given that I'm currently struggling to run 4 days per week, committing to 7 is ambitious, to say the least - but it should help that I can walk instead of run 2-3 days per week and, presumably, as the month goes on I'll be in better shape so the runs will feel less difficult. Added to which, since my plan for NaNoWriMo is to write a series of interrelated short stories, each of which has running as a central theme, a daily run/walk will help fuel my imagination. In any case, the notion of spending the month of November passionately pursuing two of my favourite activities is an appealing one so, with Husband's blessing, I'm going to give it a try.

Of course, taking on two relatively ambitious goals may be a recipe for disaster but, since this is the year I promised myself I'd "plunge boldly into life", the time is right. Even if I don't succeed, I'll get more exercise than I have in awhile and maybe finish a few stories. 

To close, a favourite quote on running from John Stanton:  
"The day will come when you cannot is not that day...lace them up."  
And, on writing, from Amy Tan: 
Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.
Happy running and writing, friends. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing Mr. Pyewacket

First, the good news. Nemmie's little brother arrived yesterday. He's a three year old, all black male - very cute and friendly - and very difficult to photograph with my phone. :-) I'll break out my camera and try to get better pics of him this weekend. Nemmie isn't terribly impressed with her new housemate so far but we'll wait and see how it goes. Hopefully, she'll realize Pyewacket is a good thing soon.

Second, I haven't forgotten that I promised a "painfully personal post". In fact, it's drafted. I just haven't had time or energy to finish it because we were away in Cape Breton for Thanksgiving and have been busy dealing with some worrying news from Husband's family. Things are settling down a bit now so I'll put a push on this weekend and try to finish it.

Here are a couple of photos from one of the walks we did in Cape Breton, the trail to Uisge Ban falls. It was truly magical. I'll share a few more photos with my next post.

Happy running and writing friends!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thinking again about why I blog

I read some great stuff about blogging last week - in particular, a piece on Zen Habits - which got me thinking about this blog and where I'd like to take it.

It started as a place where I could explore ideas about life, the universe and everything. Why are we here? How should we deal with various life challenges? What's the best way of putting values into action?

It quickly developed into a blog that's primarily about running and the lessons it's taught me, with occasionally posts on travel, food, cats, photography, writing - pretty much everything really.

I don't have a problem with that, except that it breaks the #1 rule of blogging, which is to pick a topic and stick to it. According to those who know, a blog is much more likely to find and keep an audience if it consistently offers good information and advice on a relatively narrow range of subjects. 

But the truth is in the 7 years I've been writing this blog, I haven't been all that concerned about "building an audience". Naturally, I hope readers will find it interesting/enjoyable/helpful but, at the end of the day, it's more like an on-line diary - a place to record random musings and explore my creative side. I'm happy when others find a post interesting and join the conversation by responding in some way but, even when they don't, it's satisfying to put pen to paper (so to speak).

I've also come to enjoy using it to share my photos. Let me be clear, I don't have any illusions about my talents as a photographer. (How could I with so much evidence of photography far better than my own available online?) Nevertheless, I enjoy using photography to see and share the beauty around me and, every once in awhile, I capture an image I'm really happy with - like this one:


Speaking of photography, if you find yourself in Nova Scotia this month, be sure to check out some of the wonderful exhibits that make up Photopolis, a celebration of all things photographic  On my way home last night, I stopped in at the D'art Gallery to see "D'ance: A Dancer's View of Dartmouth". It's a terrific show for anyone who loves dance and/or Dartmouth. The exhibit is the result of the combined efforts of a photographer, a choreographer and numerous dancers - who together made beautiful, evocative images that have a lot to say about the power of dance to shed light on human experience. I especially loved the series of a dancer interacting with Dawn MacNutt's sculptures at Alderney Gate, and a group of ballerinas at Two if by Sea.  

Another show I'm looking forward to is a series of portraits taken by Aaron MacKenzie Fraser in the Roy Building shortly before it was torn down to make way for new development.  I've had many opportunities to visit and work in that building over the years so was greatly saddened to see it reduced to rubble and am hoping the portraits will capture some part of the soul of the place.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the blog. (See what I mean? No focus at all.)

In a post last summer, I noted that there are lots of topics about which I don't write - though the reality is they take up quite a bit of real estate in my head - family, marriage, work, aging, sex, for example. My reasons for avoiding such topics are obvious. They're too personal, I'm embarrassed, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and (most of all) I'm not sure I have anything much worth saying. (Like that's ever stopped me.)

On my long run today, I decided that maybe it was time to write about some of those subjects. After all, I've gained a fair bit of wisdom and experience in my 52 1/2 years on the planet - some of which might actually be useful to someone. And, who knows, maybe if I open up, others will too and we'll all learn something.

It's an intriguing to think about but scary as well. It's sure to feel downright uncomfortable at times and, of course, there are others' feeling to consider. On the other hand, my New Year's resolution for 2014 is to "plunge boldly into life" so the timing seems right to change course. Look for my first Painfully Personal Post later this week.