Saturday, February 11, 2012

Almost Wasn't

This morning I woke thinking I would cash in my chips, cancel my run for the day and just ... watch television.  Of course I had to go get my hair cut, deliver some furniture and go to the dump first.  But otherwise, maybe I'd have a lazy day.

In the past fifteen days I've done at least some form exercise each day, and each day either a run or a ride.  I could use a day off.  I have a duathalon coming up in a week from today, and while I've not rested, my running has been very low-key (nursing a hamstring).

I thought:
...a day off is okay, you'll ride harder tomorrow because of it.

Run today...the race is coming up and there's no time to exercise this coming Wednesday or Thursday anyway.

Rest today because your legs are shot from yesterday's tempo ride.

Run's the virtual run for Sherry Arnold

I ended up hitting the trail and had a great 8 mile run, my longest since the hamstring problem.  The day was beautiful, the trail, one of my favorites.  It has soft ground (some places thick sand), is neither flat nor hilly, neither windy or straight, tree-lined and very interesting.  There are old adobe homes from the 1800's as well as three plank bridges to cross.  It's a super interesting run, while being safe enough to get distracted from the trail temporarily now and again.

I ran a short leg of this trail about a month ago and loved it.  But I hadn't really been out there since last July.  I was happy to see the the bridges repaired and upgraded, shown below.  There's a group that helps maintain a few stretches of the trail, and I personally thank them.  It's an awesome thing.  Check out their site and see the amount of trash they fish out of the river during the monsoon season!
Above is one of the plank bridges.

Since I've been nursing the hamstring hoping to get it healed for next week's big race (for me it's big anyway), I've not pushed it at all.  In fact, on most of my runs I've not broken a sweat, and a few times I was freezing the whole way.  Also, since I'm training for a bike race and can't ride in the early mornings, I've not been able to run in the afternoons.  This afternoon, depending on how I felt, I'd see if I could push a bit on the 8th mile.

The first thing I noticed was that my pace was faster than it's been.  I was going completely by feel, but the first mile was 9:26.  I never felt the hamstring, and was just jogging along to warm up.  While still two minutes slower than I would hope to be healthy, it was encouraging to see some improvements.  I plodded along in the low-mid 9 minute range, save the 5th mile (nature called).  I struggled through a bit with some upset stomach problems, I'm not sure how to eat during the day if I run in the afternoon anymore!  But, when I started the 8th mile, I felt like I'd just run 7 miles, but otherwise fit as a fiddle.  I decided to see how my leg really was.

I steadily sped up, hoping that running down and up the dips wouldn't cause problems.  None did.  I finished the last mile in 7:39.  Stretching afterwards felt fine and now I'm sitting on ice hoping all is well tomorrow, too.

With that said, I've not done much trail running in the past few months.  I forgot how dirty my feet get.  When I stopped this is what I had:

Off and on I thought of Sherry Arnold, but more of her family and how she was taken from them.  I thought of how we often suffer during exercise, how she isn't suffering anymore, but her family surely is.  It reminded me of one reason I run.

I run because I can.  It's a gift, at a price.  It hurts, but that's kind of what makes it good.  It's unfair, and saddens and angers me, that Sherry had to pay her life for that day's run.  That was never the bargain.  And after thinking it over I compromised with myself.  What can I do?  Sadly, very little.

I think over some things like teaching my children awareness of their safety, talking to students about it.  But really, that's not it.  That's not what I can do to address what happened.  That's a different purpose, one of prevention.  That's preventing something similar from happening to my loved ones.

But what drove my thinking was compassion for her family more than for Sherry herself.  I finally accept the fact that there's a lot of hurt in the world and not a lot of healing.  There's no undoing a tragedy.  And suffering is something we will all face.  We all suffer and are burdened, and many of us in extraordinary ways.   

What can I do in response to Sherry Arnold's death? I can show compassion to others, even when they don't appear to deserve it.

What a great run I had.

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