I Ran Very Far

It’s almost a week ago, and my legs are still a little bit sore. Not nearly as much as they were, but I can still feel they’re tired.

Last Sunday I took part in Cork Marathon.

I only did the half marathon, but it’s still the longest race I’ve been a part of – ever. I’m a little bit proud. I still feel like I could, or ought to, have done better, but if I’m to be honest I was spent when I crossed the finishing line.

It’s not realistic of me to think I could have done better than I did considering how exhausted I was towards the end. The last two kilometers went purely on will power. The brass band playing at the last bend before the end perked me up a bit and pushed my strides a little longer, but that took the last ounces of energy I had.

The walk home was slow and dull. It’s a good thing I live only a few hundred meters from where the race ended or I’m not sure how I would get home. I got there though. I did my stretching, showered, ate, and then slept for two hours.

The rest of the day I didn’t do much at all.

It was tough, and the last quarter was really boring with all the flat straight roads, but knowing me I’ll do it again next year anyway.

I Ran Very Far

Unexpected Exploration

Please note: At the moment I’m mainly posting just to get back into the habit of updating my blog again – not because I have anything particularly important to share.

I don’t get lost.

I very firmly believe that I don’t get lost.

I may end up in locations that I did not plan or expect to end up in, and it sometimes comes as a surprise to me when it happens.

I may end up on places from where I don’t know how to get where I want to be.

It sometimes happens that I think I’m going in one direction when in reality I’m going in another.

It happens, but I don’t get lost, because I don’t feel lost.

I may feel stupid and embarrassed when it happens, and I may stubbornly refuse to believe it until reality finally catches up with me, but even then I don’t feel lost.

Obviously it helps to have a phone with gps and a map, but even without it I wouldn’t feel lost. I may for all intents and purposes be what is technically considered lost. Let’s define lost as follows:

Lost: A person is lost when they’re in a location they’re not familiar with, and when they don’t know how to find their way to a location they are familiar with.

At first I’d say that this happens to me all the time, but then I remember that there’s always backtracking. Much as I hate turning around and going back the way I came, that’s almost always an option.

For the most part, I don’t choose that option.

Like, tonight.

First though, some music:

Tonight, I went out running after dark for the first time in months. I dimly remember having gone on a night time run a few months back, but I can’t say for sure if that was before or after Christmas. It’s been a while. I’ve been looking forward to it.

In my previous post I mentioned how I’d gotten back into running again (jogging, technically – I’m not very fast), and how I’m really enjoying it.

With the shift I’m on it’s not feasible to go running in the late evening though. I have to get up early to go to work, and I try not to skew my sleeping pattern to much over the weekend. Most of my running happens in the afternoon or early evening, when it’s still light outside.

It’s nice, but it’s not quite the same as running at night.

I like to be out in the dark, all alone in the street or on countryside roads. There’s just me and the music. I love running with music. The set I linked above was put together specifically for night-time running.

The music is slow and steady. It’s dark and repetitive, with eerie noises, and with melodies that flow in and out of the soundscape. It starts out sparse and minimal and builds up over time. The music never goes too crazy, but the last thirty minutes are still a lot more energetic than the beginning.

I believe in running as a form of meditation.

It’s a way to set your mind free to wander why your body does something else. You don’t need to think too much when running and your thoughts can find their own paths to wherever they want to go.

Sure, it’s not like “real” meditation, but there are similarities, I think.

The music helps.

So, anyway, tonight I went out running. I had the opportunity and I took it. It was just as good as I remembered.

As I set out, I decided to take an old route I’ve taken before. It’s about ten kilometers, and it’s mostly flat. Easy.

Before I made this decisions, I’d been browsing the map and looking at potential options, bu eventually decided against any of them.

I should have stuck to that.

As I got to an intersection in the road I turned left instead of right. One of the routes I’d been looking at went down that way. I felt fine, and the running was easy, and I figured I could easily handle fifteen kilometers instead of ten. No big deal.

Unfortunately, as I should have learned since many a similar incident in the past, my map memory isn’t perfect. A little bit later on I took a left when I should have kept on Straight.

I realized about a kilometer later when the road didn’t cross over a highway as expected (it went under), and I stopped to check the map on the phone.

Yep.

Wrong turn taken.

I can’t turn back though. It’s not right. Demoralizing. Weak. Yes, I know it’s stupid, but I’m running for fun and it’s no fun to turn back. It’s like admitting defeat, and I’m too stubborn to do that, so I went on.

I had a vague idea I’d be on my way up towards the airport, which might be a nice good run. Turns out I was sort of wrong about that too. I got to a place from which I knew I could find my way to the airport, but not by a pleasant route. The roads too narrow and with too many hidden bends. It’s not safe for anyone on foot.

So I went a different way. I found a path along the highway which matched one I’d followed another time further along.

There were no lights.

Normally, I don’t have a problem with running in the dark. Even at night there’s enough ambient light from the city that you can see where you’re going. Usually.

Tall trees blocked out most of the light from the surrounding streets, and a high wall separated the path from the highway. I could only just barely tell my feet from the ground where I ran.

Yes, I slowed down quite a bit.

I’d never gone that way before. It was exciting, and a little bit scary – in the right way. After a while, and without incident, I emerged from the trees. There were more lights here, and there was even a lit tunnel under the highway.

The path I ran shared the tunnel with a wide stream.

As I entered, something in the stream splashed. Big enough that I heard it over the music, but fast and small enough that I never saw what it was. It was not a crocodile. There are no crocodiles in Ireland. Don’t be silly. Probably just an other, or a big rat. Definitely not a crocodile.

I think that was the most scary thing that’s happened to me in a while. Unexpected and unseen – a weird noise from outside the shelter of the music.

I’d been toying with the idea of joining up with another trail I knew that I’d be crossing later on, but I decided not to and went straight home instead.

I didn’t make the ten kilometers I’d planned originally, or the fifteen I’d changed my mind to. It doesn’t matter. Nine kilometers isn’t a bad distance, and it feels kind of good to tell myself I could have done twice that distance, and actually believe it.

I could. I’m in a good spot at the moment. Fit enough, and not injured. I could, but taking a wrong turn, and ending up in the wrong place kind of ruined the mood a little bit.

Getting to go out and run at night was great though, and getting to test out my night-time running soundtrack was fun as well. It worked really well, even if I didn’t even get halfway through it.

I’ll try again another time.

Unexpected Exploration

I Ran

It’s been long since I ran a proper distance. Over the last year I’ve ran only a handful of times and only about 3-5 kilometers at a time. Not far, not fast, not often.

Today, that changed.

I haven’t written much lately, but I’ve started to get into shape, and I do quite a bit of working out, trying to drop a little bit of weight. It’s going pretty well. Some of the guys at work are in on it too, and we’re pushing each other to keep at it. I’m getting stronger and I can feel it.

It makes me happy. I feel good about myself.

The last time I ran a longer distance was still working evening shift and I could go for 14 kilometer jog at 1 am after work. It’s over a year and a half ago. I’ve felt the urge for a while now. I’ve been wanting to run, and today I finally got around to it.

The plan was originally to do a workout with some friends at the gym at the office, but I forgot to pack my clothes and I really didn’t feel like working out in my underwear, so I skipped it.

Instead, I went home, found my clothes and went for a jog. Just over ten kilometers. Just under 60 minutes. It’s nowhere near as fast as I want it to be, but I did it, and I’m not dead.

I’m glad I didn’t go for the 14k run as I’d originally planned – the one I used to run at nights back when I was working late. I think I’d have pulled it off, but I’m not sure how well I’d been afterwards.

Now, I’m fine. I’ll be in pain tomorrow I’m sure, but I’ll get over it. Most of all I’m happy I did it, and I’m happy to do it again. I’ll probably leave it for a bit later in the year though, it’s still too bright out at this hour. I like running in the dark better.

I Ran

Steps So Heavy

I went running again. It did not go well.

It’s been a while since last I ran at all, maybe a month, or a little over – just before I changed shifts. I’d had a long break and started up again, running a short distance (four kilometers) and did it fairly well. Then the shift change came and I stopped running because I couldn’t do it in the evening when it was dark anymore.

I didn’t stop exercising though. I’ve been walking instead, and I walk quite far. The other week I averaged ten kilometers a day, which I’d say is pretty good. These aren’t slow walks either. I try to push myself and walk fast, to make it a bit of a workout even if I’m just walking.

Keeping this in mind, I figured I’d be fine running my old fourteen kilometer track I used to run earlier this winter. I did it once a week and I did it quite easily. It should be fine, right?

Wrong!

Wrong, wrong, wrong…

The first few hundred meters felt great, but then my legs started getting heavy. Before I’d even reached the first kilometer mark I decided I’d cut the route short and make it five kilometers instead of fourteen. It’s not what my pride needed, but I seriously doubt I’d made the long route without stopping to walk – and that for sure would have been a blow to my pride (it’s a weak and fragile thing).

So I cut short, and I ran five kilometers on stiff and heavy legs. My time per kilometer was nearly a minute higher than what it was when I last went running a little over a month ago.

I figured all the walking would have helped, but I guess it’s a different kind of motion and maybe it strengthens the muscles in different ways.

Morning jog music.

Steps So Heavy

Struggling With The Short

I’m trying to write a short story, and I’m trying to get back into running.

Both are turning out to be struggles. The running is going so-so. I’ve got a short round of about four kilometer that I run a few nights a week after work. Last week I managed to do it at under five minutes per kilometer, but this week I’m back up to five and a half. It’s not encouraging, but I guess it’s a good thing that I’m at least doing it. I want to get back into a shape where I can comfortably run the fourteen kilometer route I found last autumn. It feels like I’ve got a ways to go still before I pull that off.

Then again, I kind of got rushed into it last time. I went to the hash in San Francisco while visiting my brother and ended up running nine miles without having barely run at all for two weeks before that. My legs hurt like crazy, but it passed in a few days and I kept it up, running fourteen kilometers once a week and a few shorter runs as well as walking and spinning.

That sounds like a whole lot now.

I could probably get back to it, but I’m not sure how easy it’ll be with the shift changes at work. At the moment, I get off from work at midnight and I’m home half an hour later. If I go out running at one am there’s no traffic at all – just the odd drunk. Its awesome being out running at that hour. It’s dark, I’m alone, and I’ve got some really good running music. I feel like I can go on forever.

This is one of the mixes I listen to while running. It fits perfectly. It starts out rather slow, but builds in intensity the longer it goes, and at the end, it really helps keep me moving. It’s also the kind of music that really sets my mind wandering. My body runs one way and my thoughts drift of somewhere else entire.

It’s perfect.

I may not be able to do that for much longer now. With my new shift at work, I’ll leave the office at four in the afternoon. I also have to get out of bed at five in the morning in order to get to work. With a shift like that I can’t wait until the streets are deserted to go out running.

Technically, I could get up even earlier and run then, but I doubt that’ll happen. I’m not the kind of person who gets up earlier than he has to. It’s just not me.

I’m sure I’ll find something else that works though. It can’t be that hard. Necessity breeds innovation and all that. Then again, first I’ll have to work myself up from the measly four kilometers so I can get some meaningful distances behind me. If I don’t, it really won’t matter anyway.

Picture somewhat unrelated. This is from one of my favorite summertime writing spots, the Angler's Rest between Cork and Ballincollig.  It's a decent walk from home, they've got a big beer garden, with a view of the river, and a decent selection of beers. Great spot. Go there.
Picture somewhat unrelated.
This is from one of my favorite summertime writing spots, the Angler’s Rest between Cork and Ballincollig.
It’s a decent walk from home, they’ve got a big beer garden, with a view of the river, and a decent selection of beers.
Great spot. Go there.

Same as I’m struggling with the running, the writing is acting up too. I’m trying to get my short story going – the one about Alene, that I’m writing for the Diversity in SFF challenge. I wrote another post about it here.

It’s coming together, but it’s again not coming together as planned, and it’s going real slow. I like the situation I’ve put her in. It’s great for the theme of the challenge and I’ve got a bunch of different ideas for how I could angle the story. It’s just not coming together very well.

I feel like maybe I should take a step back to the outlining phase and do a really detailed outline of what’s going to happen. That way I can have the bones of the story in place and I’ll just have to dress it up with pretty words.

The deadline is Sunday, so if I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress by Wednesday evening I’ll probably do just that. When I wrote the first draft of my novel I found that starting over and re-planning the scene often worked really well. There’s no reason it shouldn’t work for a short story either – especially when I know what it’s meant to be about.

We’ll see how it goes.

Struggling With The Short

Running And Writing

Tonight, I went for a short jog before I sat down to write. Hopefully, before long, I’ll be in good enough shape that I’ll be able to run longer distances. I find it’s a great way to disconnect my mind from everything else and let my thoughts wander. I tend to run while listening to music on the headphones: something churning or driving, with a slow steady beat,and without too many crazy melodies.

Alene

After the jog, I got back to the flash-fiction about Alena. It’s coming along nicely. Today, she received a kind of purpose – a reason for her to keep traveling, other than just a desire to see the world. Seeing the world would probably have been good enough, but I’m happier with something else to go on top of that.

It’s simple really. She’s not just traveling; she’s also writing about her travels. She’ll probably get a camera and take some pictures and then write articles for magazines and newspaper about her journeys. She’s probably not an amazing writer, but good enough to be entertaining and to get her stories about far away Whereverstan published in the Daily Newsflash back home.

I’m happy with this. It’s a bit cheesy, but I don’t feel that it matters. She’s still fairly young and she’s got ambition enough to try it out. Might as well make it work for her. There are enough other things in her life that aren’t going her way.

This is one of my favorite music videos in recent years. The song’s currently playing in the background and it struck me that it kind of fits the character. She won’t let her circumstances break her.

Running And Writing