Sunday, February 22, 2015

Staying Safe

Weekly milage: 30.2
Yearly total: 212.45 miles

It's been friggin cold in Michigan the last few weeks, and it will continue in this vein until at least next weekend. Yay! Running outside has been nearly impossible. Yesterday it warmed into the teens by mid-morning, so my husband and I took advantage of this.

There are two things on my mind while I write this. First, cold weather running requires a lot of thought, layers, and willingness to accept you just can't be outside for long periods of time, especially if you are a sweater like me. Not a jumper type of sweater, but like sweat dripping off my face in spite of it being 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Long runs outside really are dependent on a little bit of cooperation from the weather gods (and this true in every season, I suppose). Staying safe in the cold requires one to plan an outfit that allows for the addition or removal of layers, wind speeds or chill, and the willingness to accept the days where the treadmill might be the better bet for staying healthy and uninjured.

The second thing on my mind is a very different type of safety. Yesterday, as my husband and I were running on the bike path close to my apartment, some kids thought it would be funny/clever/smart to pull an Airsoft gun on us from a railroad trestle and shout "Give me all your money!" These kids had removed the orange tip that helps indicate the gun is an Airsoft; it looked like a scary gun. Was I in any real danger? Probably not. Even if I had been alone, and this pack of 12 year olds decided to try to beat me up, I probably could have fended them off. As soon as I realized the age of the kids, and the fact the gun wasn't actually capable of hurting me beyond superficially, I immediately became frightened not for myself, but for these young men. What if they had done this to an off-duty police officer, or someone who carries while they run just because? What if, what I view as, a REALLY STUPID prank turned into a REALLY HORRIBLE situation? What if one or more of those young kids ended up on the 10 pm news as the most recent victim of gun violence gone awry?

Runners on the whole tend to be kind, nonviolent sorts. The reaction of the running community to violence that occurs in or around it seems to trend to surprised and saddeness that someone would attack runners, because what on earth would a runner do to deserve that?

This is how I reacted: I screamed and froze (stupid, right?). One of the young men said "Lady, this is just a joke, it's not serious!" I think he was scared of getting in trouble. I realized all of these young men were either Black or Hispanic, and I realized right then and there that there was a good chance if they pulled this again, the result would not simply be a slightly freaked out 30 something year old runner. My husband looked pissed. I almost waved it off and started to run again, but I stopped, turned back and spoke to the kids. I don't know if anyone has talked to them about the state of violence in this country, but I begged them to not do this again, and to please stay safe. I told them to never pull this stunt on the wrong person (whatever that means). And please please please stay safe. I don't know if they heard me. I don't know if they made fun of me after the fact, but at least I said something that might make them stop and think about consequences of action in the future.

Which brings me to where I am now: worried about the violence these young men could elicit by pulling a really stupid prank, and worried that I haven't been concerned about the possibility of violence to my own person while running. I'm not a stupid runner. I avoid the places I know I'm supposed to avoid after dark, and I wear bright colors if I'm running somewhere hunting is allowed. I've never felt unsafe when I run. Is this naivety? Is this a stupid one off thing that I never need to think about again? Should I get a giant dog for a running partner (actually, I think this is a good idea any way... but there are several reasons for this)?

Two things I wish I had done: demanded the kids go home and tell their mothers how much they love them, and demanded each one of them hug me. That's the runner in me, I think. Hug it out. It will be okay.

In this cold weather, promise me two things: you will dress in layers if you go for a run, and forgive yourself for not being able to be outside as long as you would like to be. As for violence, what can we do? Do our best to be kind, and hope that our kindness will always win out. A weak suit of armor, but something I still feel like I can stand behind. And maybe get a big dog that needs a lot of exercise.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oh Hello February...

Milage Update: I've logged over 150 miles this year so far. I took two easier weeks, and came back this week like I was shot out of a grenade launcher... sort of.

Which leads me to the title: February. I hate February. I don't even care if we have had more sun than normal this year, there is something about the way time moves in February that makes it nearly impossible to tolerate. Time is moving really fast on one hand. Some how it is already February 13, but it seems like we are stuck in this cold winter, where the days are still too short (they are getting longer, but the sun doesn't come up until at least 7:45 in the morning). February makes me feel like I'm living the movie Groundhog Day.

Staying motivated this month has been a challenge. I've had to be really forgiving, allowing myself to have a different schedule if necessary. For example: my sweet husband drove in last night for the weekend, and he is relying on me for gym access this weekend. He didn't want to get up early to go (which I don't blame him for, he got in late last night). Instead of being rigid, I made him promise to go with me in the afternoon. People! This is progress!

That being said, I'm feeling fairly on track with this training thing. I did an 11 mile run/walk on Sunday, and I ran most of it. I even griped a little (like a serious runner) about how my
 miles were too fast. I needed to slow down!

Running is going well. My eating habits on the other hand... need some work. I'm using February as an excuse to eat all the chocolate. Every last bit of it. My adviser stuck his head in my office yesterday and asked if he was the only bad one who ate cookies. I said "No. If there is sugar I will find it". I've been eating my greens, yes, and eating lots of lean protein, but there has been a lot of chocolate and wine to go along with them. Running a lot has been my excuse, but I'm sensing some weight creeping back on, and that isn't what I need as I'm increasing miles.  I need to maintain this weight.

I don't believe in denying, but I may need to do a sugar fast. Just a week off of it will loosen the grip that it has had on me. My husband was talking about doing a high lean protein and veg, low everything else short term diet. Maybe it isn't a bad idea for a week or so. Just to get back into the really healthy groove I had been in.

But I really love chocolate and it is February. Maybe I will start with limiting my chocolate to only between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

Also, I've decided that my Zumba class I take on Thursday nights for fun totally counts for three miles (I don't count them in my milage total, but I mentally add them to my total exertion for the week).