RUN! (Weekly Writing Challenge: And Now For Something Completely Different)

For as long as I can remember, I have loved running.  It makes me feel powerful, invincible and strong.  A good run is, to me, the perfect workout.  You know the movie Forrest Gump?  You know the part where he just starts running because it seemed logical and natural to him?  That’s how I feel – but with far more restraint…you’ll never catch me running across the country – or even the county for that matter.  There is just something so right…so normal…about putting my feet to the ground (or treadmill) and propelling myself forward using the power of my quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and, of course, my lungs.

This is my journey.  My addiction and obsession.  These minutes make up my ritual and meditation – my inner push and pull.  When I run I struggle, I fight, I fly and I win.  And I love every moment.

7am, Friday morning.  I arrive at the club.  I hop on the only thing I see in a gym full of workout equipment: the treadmill.  The dashboard is blinking at me, asking for some basic settings to be entered before I am allowed to start.  I type in my time goal without hesitating: 60 minutes.  I skip past the finer details now being asked: No calorie goal, I don’t enter my age or weight – none of that matters.  I am not here to shed pounds or track the number of calories I burn.  All I want to do is run.  No ramp incline.  No interval settings.

Just go.

I start out at a brisk walk for 3 minutes – this is the amount of time I need to:

  1. Tie my hair up in a pony-tail.
  2. Unwrap my tangled, knotted ear buds.  At this time I also remind myself to look for some sort of device I can store my buds in to further prevent this annoying, frustrating mess.
  3. Fasten my iPod, secured safely in a neoprene arm band, around my left bicep.
  4. Choose my playlist.  (It should be noted that I have approximately 10 different play lists – but when I run, I only listen to one.  It is titled “RUN!”.)
  5. Hit shuffle on my iPod, which also triggers the music to start-up.  If the first song is something like “Thunder Kiss ’65” or “Flagpole Sitta” I will walk for a little longer, 2 more minutes tops – or I will hit “next” to skip to the next song.   BUT – if the first song is “You Could Be Mine” or “Fire Starter” I immediately increase my speed up to 5.2 and jump into my run.  I always start out slow.
  6. Check to make sure my sweat towel is handy, but not in my way – draped over the top of the left  rail – and that my water bottle is full, the cap slightly loosened and in the right hand cup holder thingy.

The next 55 (or so) minutes are a mental obstacle course as I make my way to an invisible finish line called Minute 60.

By Minute 10, I am usually starting to get pretty pissed off at either my song selections or the person on the treadmill beside me.  Especially if they are walking.  Don’t they know it’s time for a race?  And why do these lame songs insist on playing?  “Bizarre Love Triangle”???  Seriously – why did I think I could run to this?

Minute 15:  The song “The Sweater” begins it’s opening, sampled drum beat.  GRRR – ENOUGH!  I hop off the belt and place my feet on the two narrow strips on either side  of it.  Now I am even more frustrated – I have broken my stride because I have to hit “next”.  I angrily remind myself that this is NOT a good running song and to remove it from the list as soon as I get home.  (which I will later forget to do.)

Minute 21:  The songs are getting slightly more compliant.  And the annoying walker on my right side has given up, or lost interest, and moved on to another machine.  Things should be getting easier, except now my legs are starting to feel like logs.

Minute 23.5:  I can’t do this.  Maybe I should slow down.  Maybe I should walk for a minute or two.  Why do I run?  Water.  I need water.

Minute 28:  Oh God, I still have over half an hour of this crap.  My chest hurts now too….If I still feel like this after 2 minutes, I am definitely slowing my pace. (more water is needed)

Minute 30: Thank goodness, “Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson starts up – my pace automatically quickens.  My feet feel lighter.  This song has a good beat…also the lyrics are ironically fitting in a place where everyone is trying to improve themselves.  Twisted logic, perhaps – but it helps my motivation.  My mood improves.  I love running.

Minute 31: Because I love running so much, I have suddenly decided I am now going too slow.  I pump up my speed to 5.6…a faster stride fits better with the beat of the music.  This feels really good.

Minute 35: A woman gets on the treadmill beside me.  I wonder if she’s going for a run…

Minute 37: The woman beside me is now running!  From the corner of my eye, I can see she looks maybe a few years older than me and her speed is only 5.0.  I can totally take her.  Eat my dust, bee-otch!!

Minute 38: I increase my speed to 5.7…this strategy will ensure that I am in the lead.

Minute 39: “Soul Wars” by Awol Nation fills my ears.  I love this song.  I love this band.  I wonder if they are on tour.  I should check the concert listings for Toronto   Maybe I can convince The Hubby we need to go see them play live…

Minute 43: Crap – Depeche Mode?  ARGH! – What was I thinking when I put this band on my RUNNING playlist?  I am starting to hurt again. (internal frowney face) I look over at the woman I am racing.  She doesn’t look as tired as I must.  Maybe I should let her win.  No – I can’t.  I really cannot let this – amateur – beat me.

Minute 43.5: I can’t do this.  I can’t feel my butt or my toes.  The race with my unsuspecting opponent is not over yet.  This is when being stubborn really kicks you in the pants.  What was I thinking when I punched in 60 minutes today?  I think I ate too much for breakfast.  I still have, like, 20 more minutes!  I’ll never make it!!!  (Internal screaming ensues.)

Minute 45:  The woman beside me has dropped down to a walk.  I WIN!!!!!!!! My opponent skulks away….

Minute 45 and 15 seconds:  I drop my speed down to a steady 5.5.  This is my happy place.  I fall into a rhythmic stride, in line with the tempo of the song.  I feel my breathing relax – the feeling comes back to my butt and toes….I freaking LOVE to run.

Minute 47: The Immigrant Song – the Trent Reznor remix version comes on.  Suddenly, I am not going fast enough – back up to 5.7 I go.  Might as well finish strong – besides, I only have, like, 10 more minutes to go.  Piece of cake.

Minute 52:  Thank GAWD it’s a short song.  I have sweat in more places on my body than anyone should have.  Ever.  I am beat.  Destroyed.  I have out-run myself.  Why do I do this?  8 minutes remain – I can’t make it.  I am going to die!  I shake my head.  I can’t see, my vision is blurred.  Even my eyes are sweating.  Sweat towel!  I need my sweat towel – STAT!  (it should also be noted that at this point I start chanting the line from the movie Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” for motivational reasons.  What can I say?  It works.)

Minute 53: “Everlong” comes on!  This is, by far, my most favourite song by my most favourite band, The Foo Fighters.  No matter how tired I am, this song has a way of carrying me forward.  “Everlong” is MY song.  I love the beat, I love the words.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving me – as always.  I swear, not only does Dave Grohl live in my iPod, he also has impeccable timing.

Minute 58: The finish line is within reach.  I can actually see it.

Minute 59: This wasn’t so bad.  I bet I could go for another 20 minutes at least….mmm – maybe not today though.  I have to go work and stuff….

Minute 60: I drop down to a walk as I cross the finish line.  Overall, I’d have to say this was one of the best runs I’ve ever had….(internal happy dance starts up)

(This has been my “Something Completely Different”: A post with no photos.  I’ll admit, at first, it was kinda weird not constructing and drawing inspiration to write around one of my images.  It was also different for me to not reference my photography or illustrate my feelings with a photo.  I do run frequently, have been doing so for years.  I have noticed that there is a constant, internal commentary running through my brain as I run…songs either spur me along, or deflate my motivation – and – yes….I definitely count down the minutes as they tick away on the dashboard of the treadmill.  So there – a peek into my brain.  Hope I didn’t confuse you too much!!  Anyway – this was an awesome writing exercise.  Perfectly appropriate as I get myself geared up for November.  Thank you, Daily Post people!  Whoever you are, you rock!)

The Music That Stays With Me

Another piece to the puzzle that is my life…

…All of this preparation and packing is forcing me into the realm of nostalgia.  As we are downsizing our expendable space by a fun hundred square feet, The Hubby and I have done some serious re-thinking about our possessions:  What is important to our day-to-day lively hood?  What can we do without?  What are we needlessly holding on to?

For the most part, we have become purge-demons.  We did the all out garage sale to end all garage sales a few weeks back. We were pretty proud of ourselves for getting rid of a lot of items we simply will not have room for in our new abode.

Some of the items were harder to let go of than others.  It was hard to see people carting our stuff off.  For the most part, it did feel pretty darn good.

The biggest sacrifice was that of The Hubby’s: his 2000+ vinyl collection, in the works since the early 1980’s, was pretty much sold out.   He is left with a couple of hundred albums out of a collection that took him decades to build.  At the same time, he is pleased that what he now has is much more manageable…it has been stripped right down to releases he truly covets.  Lots of Bowie, Japan and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.  Not to mention dozens of other albums and artists that are so obscure I cannot even begin to list them.

So today, I decided it was time to tackle another area of our bulging music archives:  The Compact Discs.

CD Tower, iPhone, Instagram 1977 filter

I will readily admit that this is my mess.  A good chunk, 85% or so, is my own music collection that I have been gathering since the early 1990’s.  With the advent of this digital music age, most, if not all of the music we listen to can be found on our computers.  I believe the last CD I purchased at a music store was “In Rainbows” by Radiohead…and that was only because I really wanted the do-it-yourself jewel case and the sticker that came with it….even the act of playing a CD is becoming more and more just something I used to do.  When I go for a run, I have an iPod.  When I am driving in my car, I plug my phone into an adapter and pipe my playlists through the speakers.  When I write, I’ve got iTunes shuffling through my music files.

I think what I realised today is that my CD’s were always a need before, but now I am not so sure.  Come to think of it, when we were gathering items for the garage sale, we glossed right over them.  Why?  Everything from Diana Krall’s debut album to Queen’s greatest hits, have been uploaded as MP3’s.  They are like back up files…


I can’t tell you how many times I have packed up Elastica, The Tragically Hip, Juliana Hatfield, Nirvana, The Breeders, et all…and moved them to a new house.  All I can say is, this is the music that stays with me.

But honestly, if CD’s had the same kind of nostalgia and dollar value that vinyl does today, I would seriously consider unloading all of them.

After a while, this stuff just ways you down.

My music collection seems to be the child that never grew up, and now it can’t leave the home.  I will be looking after it for the rest of my life.  A big part of me is okay with that.  An even bigger part of me is starting to think otherwise.

In a few weeks, I will dutifully unpack Lenny Kravitz, Macy Grey, The Foo Fighters, Blur and Sloan.  I will place them neatly in a row on a shelf.  And there they will sit.

Sure, The Hubby and I have downsized, sacrificed and are learning to move on from most  of our needless possessions….but somethings just stay with you for life…..