Day 309 – National Running Day

Somedays are made for feasts of fine food or even toasts with exotic spirits, and then there are these kind of days. Not that a day to celebrate running is a bad thing, it’s just a slight departure from my usual modus operandi here at holiday central. I wasn’t baking. I wasn’t mixing. I wasn’t cooking. Like Forrest Gump – I was running. There was no reason to dillydally on this. The longer I put it off, the harder it would be to accomplish. I woke up early at around 5:45, put on my shorts, thermal shirt and special sweat-absorbing bandanna and out the door I went. The sun was up and trying to peer through the clouds. It was warmer than it had been on previous mornings. The neighborhood was quiet and peaceful. And I was running.

I believe it was September of last year when I was a month into this quest and I realized that I needed to balance out my life with more activity. I was suddenly feasting on cookies and cakes and all kinds of treats and yet I had no regular exercise routine outside of yard work (which is indeed exercise). I felt I had to do something. That’s when I was inspired by a random person that I saw jogging on an equally random road somewhere in Rhode Island. I was stopped at a light and I saw this person jogging on by. His pace was slower than a walk and when I watched him, I noticed he had a noticeable limp as if he had suffered a stroke or similar incident. He was older, likely in his fifties, overweight and definitely not the pillar of health you want to look to as a role model. But he was running. I looked at this guy struggling to run but still putting one foot in front of the other and I thought to myself if he could do it, why couldn’t I? I happened to have some free time on my hand too. I stewed on this for a few days and then I decided to get a little daring. First, I signed up for The Newport Bridge Run in October which was a four mile run over the Pell Bridge – something I had always wanted to do. Then, inspired by the random runner, I downloaded a 5K Training app for my phone. We were doing this.

I started running slowly which is how the trainer gets you going. I would run for one minute, then walk for five minutes, then repeat. The first day was incredibly hard. I’m not one that has ever been a runner so it was all new motions for my body. When I was able to get the minute of running down, things increased and suddenly I was running for longer bursts – 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes and so on. Eventually I was able to run for 40 minutes straight which meant I was ready for a 5K. I was running 4 or 5 times a week and it was feeling good. When October rolled around, I did the Bridge Run which was a rewarding achievement for myself. I ended up walking up the incline of the bridge (probably about a mile of the run), but I ran the rest. I ran to the finish line where Lola was waiting for me and cheering me on. It was one of my favorite moments of this whole quest. It felt so good that I signed up for another 5K in December (The Santa Hustle Race). I ran that whole race and again Lola met me at the finish line. I was suddenly a runner.

I know there are people running marathons and 10 Mile runs and much greater distances than my little 5Ks. I am not saying I am the most accomplished runner in the world. In fact, I am in awe for those who do run great distances because I know when I finish up a 5K, I have nothing left in the tank. I can’t even fathom running another 20 miles after that, so to all those true runners out there, I tip my hat. I am utterly impressed at what you can do. I’m not there yet and have no plans to be. I’ll stick to the short runs. After the Santa Hustle, I still ran on occasion. When the snow came, I had to stop running but once it melted, I was back out there running 3 or 4 times a week. It had become a routine now, part of what I did. Then I got the job at the Vineyard and that kind of brought things to a halt. I was running around at work and on my days off, I was tired, so I got out of the habit. According to my running app, my last run was back on April 7th. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get back into the swing of things this morning.

I run in our neighborhood and for most of it, I run down Park Ave. on the walkway that runs alongside the beaches. I run all the way down past Flo’s and Shultzy’s and then loop around through Fountain Street which puts me back on Park Ave. and then I run back home. I know exactly what a 30 minute run looks like on this course and I kind of know the territory. I started noticing all the slight changes that have happened along my route since my last run – some of the winter construction projects were completed, some new projects begun. There wasn’t a lot of people out this morning, just me and a few dog walkers. We gave friendly nods to each other as you do, but not much else. It was a pretty peaceful time along the beach. It looked like the sun might actually come out today.

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I stopped for about a minute to take this photo just so I could have proof of my run. It takes a minute to get my phone out of the arm band holder and then to get it back on. You can pause the running app for these kind of breaks, so that’s what I did. Then I continued. I ended up running for the full thirty minutes excepting that one minute break. This surprised me. I thought that having been out of practice, I would have had to stop a few times or come up short of my goal. I pushed myself however. Not to say it wasn’t without the aches and pains. My legs started to feel it at about the twenty minute mark and my ankles too. Then I realized how running gets your peristalsis muscles churning and how that bok choy from the night before was starting to get a little antsy in my belly. In the end, I made it home without incident. For the finale, I had to run up the hill next to our neighbors house and that is usually a killer for me. Today it wasn’t so bad. I just pushed through and did it. Happy Running Day to me!

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I guess the hardest part was heading to work afterwards and feeling my muscles stiffen up as I sat in my car during the commute and then at my desk. I had to get up and walk around the office every once and a while to stretch. When I got home, I mowed the lawn because it desperately needed it and that was another couple of miles walked on my total for the day. I happened to check the Health app on my phone which counts your steps and I noticed that my steps for the day were over 16,000, up from the 1,600 of the last two days. However when I looked back at the weekend when I worked at the Vineyard, my step count for those two days were over 18,000. I really am hustling around on those days. I guess you get your exercise where you can.

To cap of my day, inspired by National Running Day, I decided to commit to doing more, so naturally I registered for the Mount Hope Bridge 5K run in August. I guess I just can’t stop from running on bridges.

Today was also National Chocolate Ice Cream Day and because I had earned it, after mowing the lawn, I asked Lola if she wanted to walk over to Shultzy’s to get some. She did, so we walked back down my running route as the sun was starting to sink in the sky on our way to get a refreshing treat. I like taking these kind of walks with Lola. It gives us a chance to talk and just enjoy our neighborhood. I learned that when she was a kid, she ALWAYS had chocolate ice cream. It was kind of her thing. And I also learned why she hates Friendly’s. I showed her all the changes I noticed that happened along the route over the last few months. When we got to Shultzy’s, we decided to start off our meal with a couple of hot dogs as we had not had dinner. The person working the counter was the nicest person we had ever met. She was so enthusiastic about us being there it made us feel welcome. We told her it was Chocolate Ice Cream Day too and she seemed impressed with that. They have movie night every Wednesday at Shultzy’s in the summer and tonight was their first one. They were setting up the projector. It was a bit cold outside for that summer movie feel, but while we were there, a family showed up with blankets so they could tune in. It was a nice little scene. After we ate our dogs, which were tasty and made with noticeable care, we went back to the window for our ice cream. We both got small soft serve cones that were exactly what we were looking for. The moon was out even though it was still daylight with dusk accents and the sky was tinted in pink. It was the perfect way to end the day.

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I’ll never consider myself a runner. Even now after having run fairly regularly over the last eight months, it’s still a novelty to me. I don’t get that runner’s high. I look pained when I run. I can’t wait for it to be over. But when it’s over, I can be proud. I am doing it. I’m actually running. It makes me feel better about having chocolate ice cream on random days. Running has actually been part of the whole story of this quest. The challenge of it, the making it happen, the joy of finishing the race. It’s a strange sense of pride for doing something I didn’t think I could do. That’s what I celebrated today for National Running Day and what I’ll be working towards until Lola meets me on the other side of the Mount Hope Bridge this coming August. Hopefully she’ll have a chocolate ice cream cone in her hand waiting for me.

Next up: National Jelly-Filled Donut Day

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