Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rambling thoughts on a long, slow run.

Pirate did a 5K with her mom yesterday, her mother’s first one.
Pirate mom had apparently had, to put it mildly, a good time. I’ll let Pirate tell you about it. If she hasn’t, she should. Soon.

One of the things she told me about over the phone was her mother asking, after it was over, I feel so happy. Is this why you do this? How long does it last?

It's 7:30 in the morning and I'm thinking about this while running--okay, jogging--in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque.

I looked at my Garmin. I felt pretty breathless, so just out of curiosity I paged through the screens. 6217 feet of elevation. Well, that would explain things. I hiked along, pondering the meaning of happiness.

My runs slow down the swirling thoughts in my head. Peace. Which, for me, is happiness. Most of the time, my thoughts are a tornado and I'm in the vortex with random thoughts swirling around me—thoughts, feelings, emotions, images of the past, ideas—they spin around me and sometimes I can grasp a few at a time but the another one blows in and I’m distracted.
Slap any label you want on it: Busy mom, Adult AD/HD, that crack on the head with a ball bat when I was 11.
It is what it is.

I stop to photograph a snow-covered cholla. After that I stop several times wondering if the pictures will mean the same in still life as they do right here, now.

Running slows down the cyclone of thoughts, images, flashes from the past, worries…they slow down so that I can reach out and select them, turning them over, considering them--and let them go again. Study them. Put them back. It slows things down. I hold onto ideas. Crystallize them into plans. Think things through.

I have never felt the "runner's high" but thoughts that flow languidly, instead of their usual frenetic pinging...this is the gift.

I thought about Pirate’s mother again. How long does the happiness last? and crossed my fingers for her. Maybe she’d found a whole new dimension to her life. Just one more person to find the happiness. I envy Pirate that experience. I wish I could have done that with my mom. I don’t know if it would have changed things; her particular heart disease probably started before I came along at age 28.
But maybe if I’d somehow been able to influence her, she might have tried harder to stay alive. Maybe she wouldn’t have turned down that clinical trial I was going to get her into.

Or maybe she would have. You can’t second guess yourself all the time, I guess. I release the sad thoughts about my mother. The wistfulness and longing spin away.

The path in the foothills is on an alluvial plane, naturally hard-packed dirt covered with crushed gravel. It’s a satisfying noise under my feet. From time to time I slow down as I become breathless. Sometimes I pull the balaclava over my mouth. Other times I pull it down. Sometimes I jog. Sometimes I walk “Briskly.” Many times, I stop and look around.

I look at my Garmin again. 6479 ft. A new plan forms. I will jog until it reads 6500 and then turn back.

People pass me, running, or on mountain bikes.

I bend down to tie my shoe and for some reason, decide to take a picture of a puff of snow on a tuft of grass, even though I know that what it is about the snow that made me take a picture of it probably won’t show in a photograph. I can see the individual snow flakes. I want to save it before it gets added to the mind/memory cyclone.

I step lightly to avoid a pile of dog mess in the trail, and another thought emerges from the whirl. Why would people deliberately leave that there? Dogs aren't horses, you know when they're "going." Of the 14 people with dogs I’ve seen, three of them are using a leash (as required by the park).

A thought occurs to me. People think they’re the exception, all the time. Their dogs are special. They are good drivers, other people are terrible. Their jokes are funny. The truth is, most people are neither terrible nor terribly special. They’re someone in the middle. The people who leave those messes probably think they aren’t doing anything bad. They aren’t gleefully laughing about it somewhere.
I forgive them.
I let my annoyance float away.

6482 ft.

I capture another thought. My daughter. She’s nineteen years old, 5’5”, and 230 pounds, sedentary, hates to exercise. She already has high blood sugar. I’ve already buried both my parents. Will I bury my daughter?
I consider this. I can be an example, gently suggest and give advice when asked, but I can’t live her life. That’s what it’s about, after all. They stressed me out and I couldn’t wait for them them to grow up. Then they do, and the worrying begins.

I turn the idea and the worry over in my mind, then let it go. It floats away


Damn. I missed it. I wanted to turn back at EXACTLY 6500.

Well, okay. I’ll just maybe go up to 6600. Then maybe I’ll stop.

Or, maybe I won’t.


  1. And every smoker I have every talked to SWEARS they never throw a butt on the ground or out their car window... ha!
    Love the the the fact that you missed 6000...
    That is what it's all about!
    (And you can only be the example and pray that your kids will follow suit...I know I can't preach either!)

  2. I love this post.

  3. Oh sweeet ramblings...its what long, slow runs are meant to be...

  4. Anonymous7:35 AM

    I enjoyed this was relaxing like I was doing a long, slow run in the beautiful foothills, too :)

  5. My heart aches for you and your daughter. I am 6'4" and 360lbs and started running last April. It took me 29 years before I became motivated enough to truly do anything about it. My brother who had spent his entire life skinny out grew it and has put on a lot of weight (triple digits). No matter how much I encourage him, nothing will happen until HE sees the need to change.
    But that doesn't give me a reason to give up. Rather it gives me a reason to love longer.

  6. This is a beutiful post. I lived briefly in Albuquerque, and remember how pretty those mountains were in the afternoons.

    I appreciate your thoughts about your daughter. I have similar feelings about a very obese sister - it's such a tough call knowing how/when to try nudging someone along toward a healthier path. Thanks for sharing your concern.

  7. i love this, geekgirl. i'm betting the landscape had a lot to do with allowing your mind to slowly wander.

    i think about those things with my mom, too. we'll never know. but we can and HAVE changed us. and with any luck and the grace of God, our children won't have to do through what we have.


  8. Great post. I was right there with you... running along... the noise in my head disappearing... the serenity washing over me. Thanks for sharing.

  9. are you using a polarizor? those are some gorgeous pics!

  10. Nice post.
    My question is--are you still floating?

  11. I used a regular phone camera, and then Photoshop.


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