September 23, 2010

Running on Full

I began to run relatively seriously about a year ago. My daughter grumbled one morning when I was encouraging her to get up and go to her cross country practice, telling me that if it was so easy, I should do it myself.

I knew then it wouldn't be easy, but I still decided to give it a shot. What better example could I set than to do the very thing I was encouraging her to do. When I was a boss at the grocery store, I had the same philosophy. I could ask anyone to do any task, provided they had seen I was also willing to do it.

I've had a lot of ups and downs and moments of lost motivation. An ache or a pain, inclement weather, weather that is too nice, you name it, I've found a reason to skip my run. But too many skipped runs and any progress made rapidly is lost. It's rather generous to call what I do running. I'm a person in my 40s, was never athletic and I am somewhat overweight.  But I find inspiration not in the person who wins races, but instead in the last one to finish. I watch these people overcome much more than I am overcoming to run and am uplifted. There is a gentleman who regularly participates in 5Ks, to the tune of 2300+ races. He is 84 years old, wearing two knee braces and it takes him nearly 45 minutes to finish. It is impossible to see him at a race and not smile.

Yet, my motivation still waxes and wanes. Today, I decided to return to my favorite running trail, for a long walk, not a run, so that I could capture in film what motivates me to run every day.


A beautiful misty morning beckons me and a  handsome young male agrees to keep me company.

Experimental Farm
Einstein Urig
The journey of a thousand miles (or four) begins with a single step.

 When I first started to run, I set goals along the path.

Mill Creek Bike Trail

Run until I reach the apple tree.  Ponder how many have fallen since the day before. Marvel that they are red, no longer green.

Each day, I add a new landmark. Some are rather obvious, like running to the tennis club, where I silently scoff at the folks who buy memberships to run around, when I am doing it for free. 

canfield swim club
Then I begin to pay closer attention to my surroundings. I weave stories in my mind about the people who frequent the path, from pieces of evidence that are left behind.

I imagine a funeral for a beloved pet. Then I spy a little makeshift bridge over the ditch, from a suburban backyard. An escape to the somewhat tamed wild. 

Each step along the path keeps my mind engaged while my feet are moving.  I feel like I am visiting old friends and keeping up with them. I am territorial about my path and notice each leaf that falls. I am thrilled they began to change colors a little earlier this year.

Overcome with joy, I see my goal, Lucky 7. Halfway finished.

I am more mindful on my return trip. I see blue jays, yellow finches, cardinals, woodpeckers, groundhogs, squirrels, and chipmunks. Unfortunately, my canine companion sees them first and they are committed to memory, but not film.

I start to ache, but in a good way. I look longingly at the dilapidated chairs outside a tire store along the path. I keep walking.
The town granary is bustling from the harvest and I breathe in deeply, smelling long forgotten scents of animal feed from my days as a 4H member raising livestock.

I continue my walk, as the sun shines and the mist is gone.  A daisy peeks at me from the path. He loves me, he loves me not... Oh I don't want to know she says, and stops.

On the horizon is my starting point. I want to run, I wish I could run, unencumbered by my camera around my neck and my dog on his leash. I wish to feel the gentle breeze racing over my cheeks and the sweat cleansing my pores. I want my heart to pound with life, drowning out the sounds of anything but my own breathing and heartbeat.

Tomorrow, I cannot wait to run past my friends until I can pause and see them again.

And that, my friends, is how I stay motivated to run.

How do you stay motivated?

September 11, 2010

September 8, 2010

International Literacy Day // Bloggers Unite

International Literacy Day // Bloggers Unite

Imagine a world where you couldn't read?  To state the obvious, if you can read this blog, reading is probably something you take for granted. We readers don't realize the way the world operates for non readers.

About five years ago, I volunteered in my child's first grade classroom, one hour a week, reading with the children. At that age, there are several levels of readers, some children simply understand how letters work together and others it's nothing more than black squiggles on the page.

I met a little boy that year who was determined to overcome the squiggles and make them into words. His fists would ball up and his eyes would squint and he'd laboriously sound out each word. It was painful for the rest of the students to try to follow along. Inevitably, someone would blurt out the word he was trying to read and his brow would furrow in frustration. One day he muttered dejectedly, eyes welled with tears of embarrassment, "I know I can do this." And by the end of the year, indeed he could. I was so proud to watch him learn to read.

I wonder what happens to people who get stalled in life and either are never given the chance to make sense of the squiggles or learn how to "do this." Literacy projects around the world help those folks who've never learned to read or aren't normally given the chance to read. Reading is the gift of information, a gateway to society.

I know we can do this, too. Would you please help?

September 1, 2010

Dog's Day

I am very proud to share my honorable mention in a flash writing contest. The contest was conducted by Michael J. Solender of Not From Here, Are You? fame. Each entry is exactly 101 words long and contains the words "heat" and "summer". I proudly present the chap book, Dog Days of Summer, 2010.

Thank you!


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