2016 Running Goals Update: June and July

I’ve felt really disorganized and unfocused for the last month or so, and it’s really surprised me. I think I’m almost out the other side now, though. I’ll have to see how it goes!

At the beginning of the summer, I exhibited what I now feel was some impressive willpower by continuing to run after work even though it was hot. But you guys… it’s still so hot. My mental game is weakening. I can neither be bothered to get up early enough to avoid the heat, nor get out and run in it.

So, I’m diversifying. I’m making an effort to still get out and do something, even if it’s not running. The following activities have made appearances lately:

  • Hiking
  • Going to the honest to goodness gym (okay this was only the one time but I plan to go again)
  • Standing in the pool (this might not be exercise)

Onward…

1. RUN 5K IN UNDER 30 MINUTES.

Done in May! 29:53.

2. RUN A MILE IN UNDER 8:30.

I’m just killing it on my no-timed-miles streak.

3. RUN 10 MILES.

Not yet. One 6.2 towards the end of June, and another at the Kenwood Footrace on the Fourth of July. Still working my way up…

4. TRY RUNNING BEFORE WORK.

Nope nope nope.

5. RUN 5 DAYS A WEEK FOR ONE MONTH.

Done and done!

2016 Running Goals Update: May

1. RUN 5K IN UNDER 30 MINUTES.

Done! 29:53, three weeks ago, on my usual route around the neighborhood.

You may remember, I started the new year having recently run 31:57. At the time, I thought I was already extremely close to reaching this goal. I felt sure I’d hit 30 minutes within a month or two.

So, I feel a little silly sitting here five months later, finally checking this one off. Really, though, I’ve been working towards this goal the whole time I’ve been running – ever since I ran 36:29 in my very first 5k in April 2012. It took me three and a half years to knock off five minutes.

That makes two minutes in five months seem pretty fantastic.

2. RUN A MILE IN UNDER 8:30.

I’ve been very consistent at not running any timed miles at all this spring. If I really push, I may be able to successfully continue this streak through the summer.

3. RUN 10 MILES.

Four runs over five miles in May! Working my way up.

It’s been hot, so I’m running into some issues with needing to bring a little water but deeply hating carrying a handheld bottle. Five trail miles takes me about an hour, so I’m definitely going to need a solution if I’m going to make it to ten. Anyone have any hydration vest or pack suggestions?

4. TRY RUNNING BEFORE WORK.

I started working 8 to 4 instead of 9 to 5. I might never do this.

5. RUN 5 DAYS A WEEK FOR ONE MONTH.

Done and done!

(Not) doing that thing you do

Sometimes, for whatever reason, I end up not doing the things I usually do. Things that I like, things that are good for me, like running, or reading, or playing the guitar, or cooking healthy food, or writing.

Sometimes, predictably, it spirals downward. I feel sad, or tired, or ill, and I don’t do the thing that I like that is good for me, and so I feel worse, and so I keep not doing it, and it goes on.

I have two lessons to take from this. The first is that in general, it’s better to suck it up and do the thing. This is admittedly not news to me, and can’t possibly be to anyone else, but I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll learn it.

The second is that there is more to a person than their hobbies, or goals, or successes or failures. I just told someone else this just the other day, but it’s a harder answer to accept than it is to give. Who am I, without the things that I do?

Feeling groovy

MAGIC

I first tried playing through the chords of some Simon and Garfunkel songs for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was total magic.

A wooden cassette rack lived in the hall outside my bedroom when I was a kid. I would sometimes peruse it, and occasionally take something from it. The Best of Sam Cooke, Eric Clapton’s Slowhand, Paul Simon’s Graceland, some Rolling Stones. Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits was one of these.

Hearing the familiar melodies fit together with the sounds of the guitar was, as I kept stopping to tell Brad, like, SO cool. 

I was particularly encouraged by The 59th Street Bridge Song, which is just C G D G over and over (and over) again. It made me think that maybe I’ll eventually be able to play songs as though they’re really songs, with notes that actually connect to each other.

THANKS, BETTY!

While searching for chords, I ran across the Simon and Garfunkel section of Betty Lou’s Site for Guitar Underdogs. It’s beyond charming. Besides her very serious collection of guitar chords, she’s got some serious vintage styling, a transposer feature on each song page, and plenty of dog pictures.

Games

I don’t play many games. I like the social atmosphere that springs up around board games like Settlers of Catan. Actually playing them, though, is my least favorite part. I don’t thrive on competition. I don’t enjoy trying to beat another player, or racing the clock, and I’d rather not have to fight anything. It doesn’t take long before I’m willing to make ridiculous trades just to get out of playing the game. I’ll give you one ore for two ore, okay?

I’ll admit that I do play games on my phone. Candy Crush is my constant waiting room companion, and I checked on my Neko Atsume – Kitty Collector cats obsessively through the winter. But many of my friends play games with purpose – the way I might sit down to read a book or watch a new episode of a TV show.

Somehow, though, I found myself lying in bed on Saturday evening, guiding a little band of refugees across beautiful, lonely fields of crystalline asteroids in Kiwanuka. At my request, my followers clambered onto one another’s shoulders, and hung on tight as I tipped them one way or another to make bridges.

Screenshot_2016-02-22-21-59-19

I showed the game to Brad and he played with me through what turned out to be the last of 30 (!) levels. He looked at me and said, “You like these puzzle games, don’t you?”

Yeah, I guess I must, because soon I’d moved on to Monument Valley. I’m going to have to show you in pictures. It was more delightful than I can express in words, and I don’t want to ruin it for you if you decide to play it.

Playing these games felt indulgent, like I was “wasting” my time in these little made-up worlds. More than reading books, even though the books I read are usually also made-up. More so even than watching TV, because I’m usually also engaged with the real world – knitting, cooking, or cleaning.

At the same time, I felt challenged and satisfied by the puzzles, and delighted by the visual beauty of the games.

Do you play games? What do you like or dislike in a game? What are your favorites?

Writing

I used to write a lot. I wrote in notebooks, on floppy disks, on Xanga, on LiveJournal. I wrote things for friends and strangers to read, and I wrote things that absolutely nobody would ever read ever. I wrote stories, and poems, and a movie script. I wrote fan fiction. I wrote for hours in the middle of the night. My own thoughts and words were endlessly fascinating to me, and I did not question their value. They were shining and precious, and I treasured them.

I don’t expect to find quite that feeling again. I think some of it has gone with growing up, and that’s okay. But I haven’t heard my own voice in a while, and I want to hear it again.