LSD

Um…that’s LSD, as in Long Slow Distance, which I suppose can also be pretty trippy.

At the moment I am struggling with the pace and keeping my heart rate at a low level as it all seems a bit tedious.  Near the end of my run session I keep thinking to myself, “what’s the harm in just continuing on for another session?” and I have to convince myself not to run any further.  Apparently the urge to run further, or faster, or both, is the place of injury.  I’m feeling good and strong in my running, and I need to do the mental work of pushing through the boredom of the LSD so that I can keep my overall health in a good place prior to a race.

After the track and field club sprint practice my muscles have begun to recover enough that I’d like to push just a little harder, and again I need to remind myself that it is an idea which will lead me down the path to injury.  As I posted about the ‘Black-dog’ that follows me around on occasion.  Well, he is always there, but on occasion he comes out to chase and nip at my heels.  Today I ran with my black dog, the real one, not the psychological one, and I guess it is because of the dog that I didn’t keep running longer and faster.

The day’s are still too hot to take the dog out unless it is early morning, or late evening.  Let’s just say there is a lot of sleep happening during the day as the dog runs and barks in his dreams, legs scraping against the wood floors as his eyes flicker in REM cycles.  The hour long run this morning was slow enough for the dog to participate, and he even got to stop and play with another dog which was an added bonus.  Moments before reaching my cool-down jog as I went to push the button on my watch to restart the whole session over again, because the L in long just didn’t seem like enough for this LSD run.  It is that moment, when I have to stop and look back to see the dog lagging behind for the first time – black fur starting to glint with the rising suns rays, pink tongue hanging out a little further than usual – that I thought I should just wrap the run up now with my planned 5 minute cool down jog.

Experts say that dogs use their eyebrows more to communicate with humans than they do with other canines.  I am pretty sure that when I stooped over to leash the dog and lead us down the road toward home, that I saw his eyebrows arch up like he was saying, “thank God we’re done”.

Perhaps the secret to the LSD runs and injury prevention is to run with our black dogs.

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Running with my Shadow

The night was cooler so sleep did not come easily since having become used to the warm summer weather.  As well, the dozen cups of coffee during the day certainly did not help with the sleep patterns.  Waking up at 4 AM and getting ready to run I need to first scan the messages on my smartphone.  This is definitely not my usual morning routine as I really find that checking messages floods my body with adrenalin and work related issues easily surface to the top of my thoughts like a film across what would otherwise be still clear water.  Picking up the phone there are plenty of messages that ping-pong between my siblings to report how our father is doing with cancer, and now his hospitalization.  From a great distance, it is emotionally draining in different ways as I am not able to be ‘on-hand’ to help out if necessary.  Included in the mix of messages is a notice from a good friend that our much loved former boss has died from an inoperable brain tumour.  This former boss, and my father, share the same name.

With these reports, and yes, one nasty work email slipped into the mix, I started my run with the feeling that I had a few pebbles in my shoe to contend with.  As my pace picked up through the rows of corn fields and early morning tractor harvesters my thoughts drifted around like the clouds of dust kicked up by the large rubber wheels of the farm equipment. As the run picked up another notch in effort the sun played off the cornstalks in a way that made me feel like I was in an old cinema with the film flickering at an uneasy speed.  Light and dark flashed past my eyes making me wonder at what speed I would need to run in order to have some light induced seizure.

Winding my way in all directions of the compass I in turn got to focus on my shadow as it fell just within sight on the ground.  In the Disney animated film Peter Pan, Peter’s shadow is a character unto itself, and that is much the same for my own.  No, I don’t mean to say that my shadow flies around me sprinkling pixy dust or anything like that.  I do mean that my shadow, from more of a Jungian point of view, is something a bit ‘other’.  The shadow can represent the things that I fear most about myself, or the negative views that I personally hold, the little voice that shouts out, ‘You can’t!’ rather than, ‘You can!’.  My shadow is a great personal friend of the Black Dog that chases me down every now and then.

As a runner, I have this particular view of myself while running that I hold in my head.  I think of my form, my stance, my speed, my muscles and the sound of my breath as my feet plod along. When I get a glimpse of my shadow a whole realm of doubt springs forth.  “Are my arms really doing that? Do I look so gangly when I run?” are some of the thoughts that stick in my head.  Like looking at your reflection in a distorted mirror, running with my shadow can have disastrous effects if I think too long and too hard on it.

To run with my shadow is also something I have reflected on this morning given the news of my father’s health and the death of my friendly boss.  In what ways are the things that I dislike about myself also represented in these people.  Is it genetic dispositions to live as a manic depressive or can nurture play a large role? These thoughts chase along side me as I run through the fields and I find my self bending lower and lower, head down looking for that place of darkness.  My watch beeps and vibrates to tell, and to shock me, out of my stupor and so I put away the sticky molasses thoughts of shadow and start looking, head raised to the horizon.  French mountain peaks rise up in the distance, the Black Forest misty valleys awaken with the morning light.  I know that my shadow is still there, and always will be, however, it is not the main focus of my life.  I can run as far, and as fast as I ever will, and my shadow will always be at my side. When the shadows seem the darkest, it also nice to remember that the sun must also be shining the brightest – I just have to keep my head up and look to the horizon.

Clapper Board

Late Spring I joined a local track and field club with the intention of staying motivated in my running, as well as, it was a good place to start meeting new people that are not associated with work.  All these plans have worked even as the summer heat continues to rise there is a small group of about a dozen people that meet weekly to train in different areas.  Last evening we practiced sprinting as well as the hammer throw.  I can’t imagine such different sports being done back-to-back because they require different types of muscles as well as differences in coordination.

As I have been practicing longer runs I did not think that my sprint times would be very good.  I placed in the silver medal range for the 50 metre sprint and then helped others train for the 100 m sprint.  In the ‘helping’ part, I was supposed to be a ‘hunter’ so that the other runners would want to run faster.  I guess I was there to motivate them.

The hammer throw is something I have never done before and it did not come naturally to swing a weighted ball and then to spin my body around to at last hurl the ‘hammer’ down the field.  After a few practice throws I was getting better at the distance, but then found myself off balance on the final throw and toppled over sending the hammer in an odd arc that produced the shortest distance.  Not exactly what I was expecting, but then my expectations were pretty low having never done the sport before.

The next morning are when the practical results come in.  These ‘results’ are the small aches and pains in the muscles from having used some different part of my body.  Noticeably, my hamstrings feel tender – likely from the sprinting – and my neck/shoulders feel very tight.  I have a bike ride planned for today which will be about 60 kilometres so I hope that the kinks get worked out, rather than made worse from sitting bent over on a touring bike.  In reality, I am feeling very tired.  I’m drained from the heat that never seems to lessen in the night.  As well, I am tired from the poor sleep, the training and the different diet, and mostly that I have not had a day off in over 2 weeks.  All these factors play a huge role in my overall performance.  I am sure that having a brain turn to porridge from all these factors will not improve the story.

The sound and sight of the starting gun is done not with a small pistol firing blanks, rather it is with a hand-held clapper board which has two half circles on the ends of the boards, so that when the boards are slapped together you hear the ‘crack’ and see that the black half and the white half of the two parts of the circle have been brought together.  Hearing this crack, and seeing the circle at the far end of the track put people at a disadvantage as they usually wait to hear the sound.  As distances increase the sound takes longer to travel and so I always watch for the ‘puff of smoke’ from the gun, or the two halves of the circle to join completely.  This is an area that was not mentioned in the training, strangely.  A lot of time is given to technique at the starting blocks, and there is some personalized feedback having to do with running form or style; however, no ‘tricks of the trade’ were mentioned about the start signal.

The sprinting was the most enjoyable, partly because I placed on the podium, but mostly it is the sense of my muscles extending, the power of the muscles and the ability to repeat the performance over several times without having the sense of being completely winded.  I was more than pleased with the results and wondered how the training for sprints might be a benefit for my longer runs.  I would certainly find out as my sore muscles responded to another phased medium run.

Searching for the Sun

First it was the wind.  Then it was the cloud. Buckets of rain falling onto a parched land mixed with thunderstorms eventually cut wide swathes across the horizon.  In very selective ways, as if the rain clouds were following a measured-out pathway you could kick-up dust on the trail one moment, and a kilometre down the road find that pools of water stood in your path forcing users to braid the trail and walk into damp knee high grass verges.

The wind came up from a different direction and brought with it cool air unlike the wind that seems to follow the jet-stream bringing a hot furnace-like air from Africa and the Mediterranean.  It was a chance to open all the windows in the house so wide that all the humid stuffy air could be squeezed out, like wringing a sponge out with fresh water after doing so many dirty dishes.  Feeling that Mary Poppins herself might come sailing past the house on this cool change of wind, there is a fine balance to how long one can keep the windows open as there usually follows a tremendous downpour.  The saying, ‘once bitten, twice shy’ works well here, as the first summer living in the village I eagerly opened every window and skylight of the house to cool down.  The stone house seemed to exhale all its stored up summer heat in just a few minutes.  Finally it felt like my brain wasn’t melting.  If I had ventured out during this time I would have been greatly upset, because within minutes dark clouds can appear and usually with a distant clap of thunder, rain begins to fall so hard that it bounces off the roofs and floods the streets.  With little to no warning – no teasing sprinkle of rain here – the heavens opened and biblical rain fell.  Running madly through the house trying to close all the windows, and retrieve curtains that had blown out into the rain I felt like some deep sea fisherman hauling in his nets.  You remember things like this so it is now with a jaded view of the drop in the glass that I rejoice in the cool breeze, but know that I might easily fill-up the house with rain water.

The rain does miraculous things to the plants and farmers fields.  Corn, which was already tall, now seems gargantuan.  Suddenly, as if on show at the theatre, fields of Sunflowers mixed with beautiful blue Corn flowers, have opened up magnificently.  The round yellow faces of the Sunflower remind me of the huge solar panels that many corporate buildings have on their grounds.  Rather than a stationary panel, there is a small motor which turns and adjusts the solar panel so as to receive the full benefit of the sun as it passes on its arc in the sky.  Much like a weather vane tail that spins guides the propellors for the wind-turbines, these solar panels follow the sun, and the golden yellow Sunflowers continue to crane their necks to worship the warmth and light.

Along with these natural rhythms are the rituals of our neighbours that I have observed over the years.  From the elderly couple across the street, who habitually leave the house at 6:30 every morning to breakfast in one of several local cafés.  Oh, to be retired and get to eat out (and not have to clean up) every day.  To the downstairs couple who shower before work and the scent of their perfumes and deodorants that lingers in the front entranceway lets me know if they have come or gone out of the house.  There are the workers with their colour coded work clothes.  Summer-time bring out more green trousered workers which is symbolic of those working in gardens, or forests.  The white trousered painters climb the scaffolding of a nearby building to begin painting the exterior.  Germany is very ordered, so the trades all have some identifiable colour coordination or uniform.

With a plethora of colours, from summer blooms to pantaloons, even the infrequent grey cloud is welcome.  The crystal clear rain falls, and quickly gathers into large pools on roads, or in fields. The pools of water soon become tinted with yellow pollen, or green algae, like they have been mixed on an artists paint pallet.  Golden fields of ripe wheat and grain have the quick red and green tractors cutting, sweeping, gathering, binding and storing.  As Sunflowers turn their heads, and runners splash through puddles, soon we will all be looking for the sun and wondering where it went and why it only comes out from behind a cloud for four hours a day before shining on those enjoying a summer sun in the southern hemisphere.

Ponder the Ant

On an enjoyable mixed tempo run this morning.  Having the amount of kilometres increase from week to week is also good as the body learns to adapt.  Even on shorter runs the day-to-day exertion has changed my body.  Despite the enjoyment, the cramps in different places have begun to pop-up out of nowhere, but fortunately with a little stretching all these symptoms disappear.

The sun was hiding behind a small cloud for most of the morning.  Behind me, along the horizon, the dark grey clouds of a thunderstorm were gathering and I kept thinking that I had left one of the skylights open at home.  If we have one of the usual deluges it would definitely be a problem.  Perhaps this is why my time was better than I predicted; I was motivated to return home sooner.

For the most part, the run is rather continuous.  I don’t have to wait around for traffic as I pick a route that is through the fields and despite a couple rail crossings I rarely have to pause for too long for the small commuter train to shuttle people to and from the main station.  I did, however,  wait a moment today at one of the road crossings as the cars seemed to be a bit more congested.  By congested, I don’t mean a traffic jam, but that they were all bunched up in groups and I couldn’t get across the street safely.  This particular road is a small country road where the speed limit is 100 Km/hr and in one direction the drivers change from 70 to 100 Km/hr so there are a lot of high-powered cars accelerating quickly.  Think of all the Mercedes and Porsche’s, and the mentality of a driver with a heavy foot racing to work.  It is just at this junction in the road crossing that my right calf muscle started to twitch.  I yelled out loud at it, “Oh no you don’t! You are not doing this now!”  I had visions of cramping up in the centre of the road as I tried to cross.  Glad that I was alone on the side of the road, and the drivers, with their car windows lowered were clearly going too fast to hear my outbursts; it is then that while bent over rubbing my calf that I noticed a tiny black ant.

The ant would never had caught my attention had it not been hauling a white flower petal. With every speeding car, the gusts of wind pushed against the delicate petal and the ant held fast to the ground before continuing to drag it.  I really don’t know where this ant was taking its load, but I feared it was also waiting to cross the road.  (The comic strip writer, Garry Larson has a book that is part biology and part humour about a woman trying to ‘save’ animals such as a Turtle trying to cross the road. The book is called, “There’s a hair in my dirt: A Worm’s story”. It doesn’t help to be helpful at times.)  Ants famously carry huge loads that are much heavier than there actual body weight.  Anthropomorphizing the ant, I took it as a lesson in endurance, pain, struggle and persistence against all odds.  My calf listened to this message and started to function normally again.

I did return home with about an hour to spare before the thunderstorm swept over the village, so the interior of the house remains nice and dry.  I wonder if there is some huge ‘god-like’ entity beyond my view that looks down with a cramp in some appendage and notices me running along trying to cross roads with red sports cars and then managing to ‘shut the lid’ on his little home.  I wonder if there are the similar thoughts of endurance, pain, struggle and persistence against the odds? What ever the thought, I am sure glad I didn’t get stepped on, and that my own calf listened to the advice so that the run could be enjoyed.

Is it really all in the details?

The Tour de France will be starting in roughly a weeks time and with this comes an increase in spandex clad bicyclists on some very pricy bicycles.  Yesterday in the blazing sunshine there were plenty of bicyclists passing by me while I ran in the afternoon heat for my long run.  No great peloton, only a few here and there, always chatty with each other like they never noticed how bloody hot it was – like the wind was always with them and the road was always sloping down-hill.  At times there is a look of surprise as the riders approach me, as if to say, my god, he is running.  At least this is what I imagine they are thinking.

I am a great fan of the Tour de France and have been for many years, however, I would probably be one of the people that cheers from the side of the road in some sleepy French village rather than the nut-jobs who dress up in costumes and drunkenly run alongside the riders as they pass, only to fall on my face as the crowd gets too thick.  In as much as there is the annual scandal over doping in the cycling world, I do think that the athletes are incredible.  To crank out that much distance on a daily basis, and not only on the Tour de France, but all the other major cycling races that happen throughout Europe.  My hat goes off to all of them for their incredible abilities.

Maybe it is the living in Germany that has made me begin planning for the months ahead in nervous expectation, but even as it is reaching 32 C on a regular basis I realize that these temperatures will not always be here.  Eventually, I am thinking, it will be the opposite number with a big minus sign in front of it, and I wonder how I will keep up with my training when the roads get treacherous.  An indoor bike standing mount might work, but I have no idea where to look for one, as I certainly do not want to have the whole stationary bike to add to my clutter.  In some smaller way, I am trying to remember when I got my current running shoes.  As my distances increases and I really start to rack up the kilometres it may be time to get another pair of shoes.  Oh the internal debates of ones mind are so funny.  I think to myself, well, should I get some trail shoes next, the rain will come and it is fun to run along the trails through the forest and fields.  I suppose thinking of my shoes functionality is better than thinking if the colour will go with my outfit.

I was once part of a running club which had evening runs once a week that were part of a training session.  You could go with some specific goal in mind, speak to the coach or the trainer and then work around a plan.  Maybe it was to get a faster time, or go a longer distance, or to conquer the hills.  I remember two young women who would come each week and the only thing these two seemed interested in was the idea that they could get into a sports store after closing so as to find more things to add to their wardrobe.  Even the conversation that I would overhear when we all started to run, or when at the end of a run, gathered again all together for some stretching, was along the lines of ‘does this make me look fat’.  ‘Do the pink highlights of my shorts go well with this shirt?’.  This was totally foreign to me as I often go running (in public) with mismatched clothes, sometimes the clothes I wear wouldn’t even qualify for ‘running apparel’.

Since when did we have to have the ‘right’ clothes to do an activity?  The Swiss and German’s seem great at this game of wearing the correct thing.  I wonder at times how often they will actually wear the same outfit.  Everything looks brand new.  The newest boots, trousers, shirt, backpack and walking sticks.  Like they have walked straight off the pages of a store catalogue for this seasons newest looks.  The same can be said about the bicyclists I see passing me on runs.  Sure, there is a certain comfort when you have the bike shorts on, especially for long rides, but do we all need to step out of the house looking like we have just renewed our contract with one of the professional racing teams?

Once, while in the middle of leading a discussion in a Toronto university I was midway through one of the powerpoint presentations when I froze up.  I became completely distracted with a scene out of the window looking onto a treed boulevard.  I often speak with little to no notes, so I guess I am good at speaking comfortably infront of groups and rarely feel caught off my game.  But when I saw people with running towards something with cameras in hand there were enough people to make me wonder what had happened.  As it turns out, it was some kind of annual Naked Bike Ride event and this seemed to gather a great deal of attention from those who happened to be out walking in this park-like setting.  Riding a bike with not a single item of clothing.  Two thoughts sprang to mind: Ouch, and Why?

There is definitely safety in numbers when it comes to standing out, be it those who wear nothing at all on a bike race, or those who are a pack of hikers in the Swiss Alps all clad in the newest of this years mountain fashion.  It is our clan, our group, our people and we all have something in common.  Some poor guy on the Naked Bike Race who must have had some technical problem early on in the event was shyly lagging far behind the peloton and blushing with embarrassment as well as red faced with extrusion trying to catch up with being part of an anonymous group of riders.

I have heard of naked running, and the same two questions spring to mind again – Ouch and Why?  I don’t really feel that comfortable taking my shirt off when I run, even though I see this often with other men.  I burn easily, even on overcast days, and I just think that I have the physical makeup that really needs to be showed off.  There haven been days, however, that once I get within half a block away from home, that I am already wrestling with a sweat-soaked shirt and looking for a garden hose to cool off with in the hopes of washing away a layer of salt from my skin and eyes.

I wonder

I will run later in the day for my long run, so I get to pig-out on a large breakfast and watch a few people run past the balcony window.  Already I am beginning to wonder what I will do when winter arrives.  I can handle running in the rain and in the cold.  It is when there is snow and ice on the grounded that I consider it to be a bit hazardous.  I am trying to conceive of a way to get around all of this.  The small garage would have a place to put a stationary bike, or perhaps I can get something to mount my bicycle onto so that I don’t have to expend a great amount of cash.

Yesterday I felt like a triathlete because I did some hill training, then some biking, then some swimming.  I ran up something that the locals call the wine-mountain as it is a terraced hill full of old vineyards.  It seems the perfect hight with the right amount of switchbacking roads that it allows me to get my heart rate up into the training zones that I need, and the side roads are welcome paths to an easier pace.  When I get to the top of the hill I am put to shame by several elderly vineyard owners who work the vines by hand.  The folks walk through the long rows of vines plucking leaves to make the sun shine on sweet clusters of grapes.  They put nets up to distract birds from having too many of the grapes – it has to be made into wine after all.  Some are bent over clearing high grass between rows, others reach high up to snip off a trailing vine.  All this is done manually and they work up and down the hill as they go.  Boy I bet the wine tastes good to those who have laboured so long.

Cycling in an area that is almost flat as a pancake is a lot of fun.  No wonder the Dutch ride their bikes everywhere.  The only disadvantage is that when you do find a hill to negotiate it seems like some evil feature that has sprung out of nowhere to torment you.  The wind rushes into your face, and it feels like it has come straight out of a hair-drier.  Nonetheless, this effort on the bike is well rewarded with a swim in an outdoor swimming pool.  A gentle stream feeds into the the outdoor pool so that the water is always circulating.  You have to love those Germans who thought of this as you end up refreshed without the stench of chlorine, and the burning red eyes.  After a good run, then a bike ride I feel obliged to have a shower before jumping into the refreshing water.  I have images of a oily film of sunscreen and salt discolouring the water around me as I swim guiltily looking at the look of disgust from my fellow pool users.

Laps in the pool on a hot summer afternoon can be compared to the finding a place on the grass to set down your blanket and bag of food.  Almost every square metre of lawn and of pool are occupied.  Zigzagging around bobbing bodies, and stepping over striped towels are the order of the day.  Growing up I usually swam in the sea so I try to visualize my swim as an obstacle course around growths of seaweed, barnacle incrusted rocks, and shiny grey harbour seal heads that pop out of the water to watch you in bewilderment.

I’m not a very good swimmer, as I don’t feel very committed to doing laps.  Water was always a place of play, so to be strict about swimming so many metres just isn’t in me to begin with.  I think, however, that I probably put more metres in having to dodge people and floating balls than I would have otherwise swam if I was a clear lane.

And then after all this is done, there is the reward of relaxing on a beach blanket with a soft breeze, with the play of light from the sun filtered through the trees.  All the salt, sunscreen, muscle soreness and exhaustion disappear – washed away – and like a snake with new skin I sit and grimace.

A little goes a long way

A blazing hot day.  In fact the night was so uncomfortably warm that it was difficult to sleep and so when sleep finally did come, it was probably the early hours of the morning.  This has off set my run.  Running at mid-morning in already furnace-like heat is not the idea.  The heat isn’t so bad, it is, in my mind, cool if you keep running.  It is the lack of privacy that I feel most.

Running is a solitary sport and it clears my mind.  Surfing is the only sport I can say that tops running for mediation.  Really, if I had all the money in the world I would quit my job and surf – it could easily be a religious experience.  So now, running at mid-morning is like a loud drunk that bursts into the sanctity of a grand cathedral and starts yelling expletives.  Not only am I dripping sweat into my eyes, but I now have to dodge yapping puff-ball-like dogs (if they are indeed dogs) on small fishing wire thin leads.  Their owners could really care less about ‘reeling in’ their little dears before they trip me up.  Along with the people on a Saturday morning waltz through the park and village, there are the commuters driving through the back streets to get around the various construction sites.

I say commuters, but I am positive that the people who need to be running a business have already been at the job site for a few hours now.  No, these people are different.  They are the people who have really nothing better to do on a Saturday.  They wander around the newspaper advertisements to see what deal is on in what store and they make their diesel-smog-filled pilgrimages to the various shops and stores.  They drivers are more aggressive because they actually want to get to where they are going as it is there time of pleasure and leisure that are more important to them than working.  At work you can always tell your boss the traffic was terrible and so you were a little late, but when it is the thing that you most enjoy (shopping) then god-forbid someone get in your way while crossing the road.

I don’t actually have all these thoughts while I run.  It is only after, when the thoughts that I ran away from have now caught up to me once I am home again having my own little ‘runners high’ that it dawns upon me.  In reality, it is never that bad, it is purely my own sense of over-embellishment and hypersensitivity that makes it all so much more dramatic.  Like fishermen and their fish.

It is difficult to say what I am actually thinking about when I run. If I think at all is more the question.  At the end of my run I began to notice the heat, and the lack of any fluids and started to imagine drinking one of the beer in the fridge when I got home.  Would that be ok? Would it seem strange to my family sat around the kitchen table having home-made crepes to see Dad burst in all sweaty and bleary eyed to stand in front of the open fridge and down a beer.  Don’t I have  some alcohol-free beer in there? Would that make it more acceptable? I could claim that it is an isotonic drink much like my sports drinks (I would argue it is superior).  That is what the heat does to your brain when you run too late in the morning.  There might as well be a desert oasis with palm trees next to a tent with camels tied up next to it.  Instead, I keep up the insanity and sit dripping the last of the memories, the fantasies, into the clickty-clack of the keyboard as the salt rings show up on the black leather desk liner.

Drop by drop, drip by drip, step by step, key by key – a story is told; rather, it is drained out of us.

Training

Every morning.  It is difficult to get my head around the idea that I need to put both feet on the ground every single morning and train.  Now, however, it comes naturally that my feet hit the ground early in the morning and soon afterwards they are clothed in running shoes and pounding along field and forrest paths.  Mentally, the running routine has become just that – a routine.  If this is the case, then why is it so difficult to write.  I get up in a routine, I run, I think, I write; but I don’t.  I want to skip the middle section about thinking and just get straight to writing as some natural flow to my own habit of running.  Where is the runners-high equivalent to  writing? There does not seem to be any muse sitting on my desk helping me like my daughter who often spends a couple hours ridding her bicycle next to me as I go for my long runs.  Instead, there is a race against the clock for my challenge.  I’m not training for distance – I should say, words per page – rather, I am simply training for time.  That if I can sit down and write for a certain amount of time everyday then this too may also become a routine that has its rewards.  Certainly the creative act is fun, it is the details that weigh me down.  For several weeks, a near finished continuing education assignment has sat on my desk awaiting editorial comments and corrections.  It just not motivate me in any way to sit and analyze my own work.  I created it – it is over – I don’t care if it looks like Frankenstein, it is my creation and I do not want to go over things with a magnifier to spot all my grammatical errors. Maybe this is the worry, that I will have to go back over the details and not like what I see.  In not liking what I see, the creative act with begin to wither, and already the routine is spoiled so that sleeping-in seems a better idea than going out for an early morning run.

On a small painted stone that I found while running up a long hill I says, “Pain is temporary, greatness is forever.”  I grabbed the stone and took it with me.  Its white pained surface becomes a beacon on may black writing matt on the desk.  For physical exhausting activities the stone holds meaning, but does it have the same results for writing as it would for running? Pain in my fingers as I type is temporary, the finished words are forever? Maybe the writers block is the pain…or maybe it is the “forever.”

I’m thankful that I took a typing class in high school, one of the only memorable and useful classes as it turns out.  To think that I would have to race against the clock morning by morning with pen and paper seems to be a special form of punishment that I could not devote my time to doing.  I suppose though, that even when we feel there is nothing to write, whole pages seem to pass by at surprising speed like the first pages of the journal in the book 1984.  A quiet corner out of the field of vision from Big Brother comes the chicken-scratches of rebellion at an astonishing pace.

The clock is almost up, and already I am slowing down ahead of the finish line, something a runner should never do.  Perhaps I will develop equally bad habits in both my passions, writing and running infecting each other.

At Night

At night is the best.  Night is the best time to paint.  The walls are offered like a large canvas, but it has a character of its own.  The wall has texture. The wall has a story that it wants to tell no matter how much paint is slapped in its face.  The dark colour covers well over the white wall, but it is the damn texture that causes so much trouble.  The night is best for painting the wall because the spots shine out that demand more paint.

The daylight hides all the blemishes, and it is really only at night that the spots become apparent like the frazzled blur in my eyes when a migraine approaches.  The colour demands to tell its story over that of the texture.  Of all the other people who have lived in the apartment, and even the signature of one that has been carved into the wall.  No amount of paint will hide these things.  The colour is dark like the night, and dark like her mood.  She wants to move on.  She wants to stay and move on.  To stay in this nest, but to move on from all the pain and hurt of departing the last place.  There is no amount of red and green hues that can offset the deep blue darkness that speaks out against the texture of the wall.

The night is best for painting.  The air is mild. The screen over the windows hides the view from those passing by like a shop window newspapered over only to reveal a new store the next morning.  At night it is only the moths that tap incessantly to get in like those early morning customers that make a retailer cringe.  Do the moths now know that they will be able to hide their dark forms on the wall? Their bodies patterned for spying. What secrets will they hear?

Night is for the hope of a new day.  Will the darkness of her mood be lifted once she sees what he has done? Will her joy come through the colour and the texture? Late in the night, pre-dawn, she returns.  A cry startles him out of his sleep, out of his sickness.

Night is best for painting because she loves it.  The room is as it should be.  The room is the beginning of a new start, a new nest, a new life.  The closed off room with one small window whistles with a gentle wind that rattles the blinds.  A thunderstorm brews like the greyness of the paint drying on the wall, but it brings fresh air and a fresh start.