Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dead Zen For It

Wednesday afternoon there was a group of four boys, 13 to 15 years old, standing around a cat that had been hit by a car.  The cat was dead and the boys were poking at the poor thing with a stick.  They weren't being disrespectful or malicious, just curious.  One would poke it, and a discussion would erupt between the boys.  Then, another would take the stick and move the tail, or point at the tire marks, and so on.

When I first saw the cat, right across the busy street from the owner's home, I was mad.  It's a waste and I blamed the owner. 

Then I thought of my youngest daughter's cat, Stumpy.  Stumpy was abandoned by its mother when it was still nursing age.  My daughter fed it and raised it.  The cat was quite unusual, loved playing in water and was the friendliest thing.  The two were inseparable.  She loved that cat like I can't describe. 

The cat is no longer with us and seeing this cat on the side of the road reminded me of the sadness I felt for my daughter's loss. 

Later I thought about how much we experience our lives, as adults, through stories.  This should be, this shouldn't be is a common categorization of an experience.  Beyond that, some of the stories are from the past, some are pure fantasy.  Regardless, those boys had it right.  It was gross, sad ... and interesting.  That's all.  It wasn't the owner being a jerk, it wasn't my daughter's cat.  It was me driving to work, seeing a group of boys being kids, soaking in a new, exciting (macabre) experience.

I often think of this kind of story telling with respect to food.  People will try a new restaurant and the first thing that is said is a qualitative comparison to another place. 

"This isn't as good as ______________ Restaurant." 

I think it's better to evaluate the food and experience for what it is, in its time.  Legends grow with time, as does the quality of a favorite restaurant.

What does this have to do with running?  Everything!

This past week all of my runs were zen runs...which for me means, no time or distance commitments.  I had a route in mind, but would cut it short if things didn't feel right.  This wasn't an exercise in meditation, but a necessary approach to healing an injured hamstring. 

I loved the runs.  They were SLOW, and I slowed down each time I felt the hamstring, and otherwise just tooled along.  It was great. 

And then I started thinking:  I have injured my hamstrings when chasing the clock.  So, why not apply the zen approach to tempo and speed work.  That is, tempo will be a certain exertion for an approximate period of time.  I've always done my best on runs (and rides) when I have a goal in mind, but during the run, I dismiss it. 

I had my first opportunity at my new approach to exercise yesterday.  My seatpost broke while on an easy ride with my wife.  I went over a bump on the road and SNAP.  I didn't lose it.  I pedaled back about 3 miles standing on the bike, but soon realized that it was killing my feet.  I waited while my wife went back to the car and came to get me. 

I had another seat post but the offset was wrong.  I couldn't get the bike adjusted correctly and suffered through today's ride (65 miles) because of it.  My knees hurt, my thighs burned, I was dying.  However, it was a gutsy ride and those pay off in spades on race day, right?  That's what I kept telling myself anyway.

Last thing:  This was week 1 of a 12 week training program for a bike race in late April.  I did complete all work outs, save the one with the broken seatpost on Saturday.

I ran a total of 15 miles, hit the gym twice, and rode 143.  I burned a 7,300 calories.  I estimated just 100 calories per mile running, and used the garmin's estimation on the rides.  I consumed an average of 2,600 calories a day (not including today as the day isn't done). 

I found a few things I can do differently for nutrition and I didn't do a good job getting sleep.  The truth was, I was worried about sleeping in and missing my early morning workouts.  Silly, I know.

Thanks for reading the long post.  I hope you find something useful here!

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