Use It Before You Lose It

Today was a balmy sunny 68 degrees F.  In southwestern Pennsylvania, in the middle of November, this is truly a gift.  The whole weekend was like this.  A double bonus.

fall

Perfect November day

I know I swore I’d never do another 5K race.  Last year, unlike so many other years, none of us did the local 5K Turkey Trot race on Thanksgiving morning.  I remember how warm and happy and grateful I felt that morning as I snuggled under the covers and listened to the cold rain pouring down.  I not only wasn’t running the race, but I didn’t even have to go out and support any family members.  This year, however, Youngest Son said to sign him up.  Then I asked the other family members if they wanted to run.  Oldest Son said, “Of course.”  Then they all proceeded to get on my case.  And I figured if I had to get up and go out anyways, I might as well run.  And as much as my life will suck for a short time that morning, I’ll feel less guilty as I’m stuffing my face with turkey and gravy later that day.

So yesterday I took advantage of the beautiful day and ran my nearly 5K practice course.  As usual, it both felt good and yet hurt at the same time.  The thing that usually makes me want to stop running and slow down to a walk, a discomfort in my midsection, was a little more acute than usual.  It’s usually worse when I run uphill, or try to sprint.  But yesterday I felt like I had just been punched in the solar plexus, and I wasn’t on a hill, and I wasn’t running fast.  I realized that is the sensation I hate most about running!

While I was running today, I started getting that feeling again.  I thought about the mantras my sons use to keep themselves running and to try to inspire me not to give up.  “Quitting is not an option,” Youngest Son tells himself.  And somehow he can convince himself not to ever quit.  “Embrace the suck,” Oldest Son learned as he pushed himself through a very rigorous Army basic training.  But, alas, poor old mama wants to embrace nothing more than a nice warm lounge chair and a bag of Doritos.

But today, on this blessedly beautiful autumn day, I thought about how lucky I was to be able to enjoy this moment.  My breathing was slightly labored from the exertion of running, but I felt flushed and alive.  I had to will my legs to keep on moving, but I could feel the breeze through my hair, and the warmth of the sun on my face.  It made me push through the pain, because I realized that very soon we will be shivering in the cold, shoveling snow off the driveway. And perhaps not so soon, but soon enough, I may not be able to run anymore.  I may inherit the heart problems my mother has, which has slowed her down to a leisurely walk.  I may someday actually become nostalgic for the pain I haven’t yet learned to embrace.

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19 Responses to “Use It Before You Lose It”


  1. 1 Cyndi November 8, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    What a great post Les! And good for you. I’ve never even considered running a 5k in my life. I’m seriously impressed.

    “Embrace the suck” I LOVE IT!! I think this may become my new personal mantra.

    Although I don’t like to run, I do feel lucky when I’m really pushing myself physically, no matter how painful or out of breath I get. I think the same things. Someday it won’t be possible and I’m happy to be able to do it. And doing it will most likely increase the amount of time we have left to do it so it’s a win-win.

  2. 3 lynette November 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    i have never been a runner — my body does not like it, just does not work with my body mechanics…

    my daughter wants to run, but often cannot. she swims and bikes. but on those days when she can run a mile, her joy sings through the air.

    good for you. but as someone who knows, please do take good care and make real sure that pain is not something to worry about, okay?

    and then embrace it 🙂

  3. 5 lynette November 8, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    well, enjoy, i hope you fly 🙂

  4. 6 Consuella Banana Hammock November 9, 2009 at 9:52 am

    atta girl! i’m proud of you. run while you can. enjoy being outside. celebrate youth or what’s left of it.

    i joined an indoor soccer league and played my first game last night. i was sucking wind big time. and i work out! it could be that i was trying to keep up with 20 year olds. oh well. screw em! i’m going to play and show them that grandma can hang.

    • 7 les@mamaneeds2rant November 9, 2009 at 10:04 am

      Consuella: That’s what’s so hard about the races. I try to keep up with all those young track starts (well, at least not get stuck all the way back with the out-of-shape-stragglers) in the beginning, and by the end, I’m praying for death.

      Soccers a great game. A lot of people in this country don’t appreciate what great shape you have to be in to play soccer!

  5. 8 robinaltman November 9, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I’m going to make “Embrace the suck” my life motto. I might even make a t shirt. Do I have to pay your son royalties?

    Good for you and congratulations! I wish you didn’t have the mid section pain when you run. (I’m sure you do, too.) My new thing is worrying that each clomp on the ground is making my vertebre squish closer and closer so that I get even shorter faster. At least you discomfort is real. I’m insane.

    • 9 les@mamaneeds2rant November 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm

      Robin & Cyndi: “Embrace the suck” is a great motto. Sometimes I silently say it over and over in my mind while I’m pounding the pavement. The things we learn from our kids! 🙂

  6. 10 Peldyn November 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I used to like to run when I was younger. I prefer something with a little less impact now that I am old, LOL! These old joints can only take so much!

  7. 11 Chris November 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    That’s the spirit!

    @Robin:”Embrace the Suck” is public domain to the best of my knowledge, originating from Fort Bragg. But if you really want to give me money, I certainly won’t stop you. =P

  8. 12 Dawn November 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Oh Robin, thanks for the BIG chuckle … I feel warmer now.

    I never really saw running as a form of meditation before. I love the mantra … would have really helped during labor.

    It’s awesome you and your kids share in the love of a sport Les. I admire that about you.

    • 13 les@mamaneeds2rant November 9, 2009 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks, Dawn, but I think they’re just getting back at me for bribing them to run when they were little. They call me a wimp if I don’t run now.

      Peldyn, I’m with you. These old bones are starting to protest, LOUDLY!

  9. 14 "J" November 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    5ks are for wieners!

  10. 16 "J" November 12, 2009 at 1:42 am

    touche. HOWEVER, i need to focus on lifting not running. im already skinny enough

  11. 18 Chris November 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

    He doesn’t need aerobic exercise to expand his blood vessels. He has a whole cocktail of weird chemicals for that. (:


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