best worst idea

Just went running in the rain — yes, on purpose — and it really is the best worst idea. Not crazy / lightning / downpour style rain, of course. Just a nice little summer-night sprinkling.

And, man, it feels good!

Skittish about damaging my iPhone, I didn’t bring along any music. I hardly ever run without headphones now, but once upon a time, it was all I knew. I even ran my first half-marathon that way (2 whole hours, guys! how? why??) and it was my fastest time so far, funnily enough.

Something about falling into the trance of the rhythm of my breath. Letting my mind wander where it wants to, without the helpful distraction of songs or podcasts. It’s meditation. (And can also be maddening, don’t get me wrong. Have you noticed how little time you spend alone with just your own thoughts? It’s a jungle in there!)

Within minutes I was transformed back to high school, in my earliest running days, looping the u-shaped pavement of our neighborhood, with nothing to listen to but my feet on the ground and the air in my lungs. (Didn’t have a Discman. Those things were bulky, awkward, and still skipped. We can all admit this now. It’s time.)

I started running back then to “stay in shape” (hahahahaha. Shut UP, perpetually size-4 high-school me. Shut your DAMN. MOUTH.) and I got the bug for real my junior year of college, which is also the first time I ran with an iPod. A bulky, first-gen brick-sized item by comparison now, and I had to carry it because I didn’t have an arm band or anything, but it was a revelation. (Didn’t hurt that it was my boyfriend’s iPod. Is there anything better than a little voyeuristic love-drunk music-snooping? The Garden State soundtrack was in heavy rotation that year, I can tell you that much.)

photo (5)

There’s something so nice and freeing about a little rainy-day run. Leaving the house knowing I’m going to get rained on. Doing it anyway. When I first started running and writing about it, I was constantly finding little metaphors for life. I can’t help it! They’re right there! Tonight’s would be something along the lines of: Don’t always shy away from the potentially messy or uncomfortable things. Those things can also end up being the most peaceful and fulfilling, and almost always a better decision than staying inside.

And also puddles. Puddles are also fun.

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what are you running from?

I ran twice today. (Twice: as in the typical accepted English usage, to mean “two times.”) This is not normal behavior for most humans who are not sinewy cross-country athletes.

from the archives. no tights in august.

from the archives. no tights in august.

I’ve been pretty solidly back on the running wagon since my birthday — almost 8 weeks — partially because it’s an easy and rewarding habit to stick with once I get started, and also because I’ve told myself I want to be in the best shape of my life, now that I’m th-th-thirty. An admirable, if slightly absurd, goal. I mean, I was 18 once, people. I get it.

I’m antsy to take on another long race. It’s been almost 4 years since I ran the marathon in Chicago. (The Bass Pro half is Nov. 3. I’m thinking about doing it, but don’t tell anybody… In case I change my mind…) It’d be fun to try to beat my best time (2 hours 18 minutes 23 seconds), from my first half marathon, when I was 24.

I was 24 once, people.

So I ran twice today. Whether or not this habit leads to record-busting, new-decade feats of glory, today it just felt good.

With that “twice in one day” confession, there’s a voice in my head that asks, “yeah, well, what are you running from then?” (That’s probably not normal behavior for most humans, either…) But it’s a big reason why I run: to get away from the Negative Norma in my head (Nancy is on vacation, you see). The doubtful, self-critical, often quite loud voice.

I run to get away from that. 

And I run toward its opposite: Runner’s High. Which most definitely is a real thing. I felt it when I first started running for real in 2007. A surprising rush of happy, productive, creative energy. I felt it during my marathon in 2009. A quiet, peaceful connection to my place in the world and all living things.

It sounds like bullshit! I know! But it’s real. 

I felt it again tonight, walking back to my house. It’s quiet and dark on the streets of Rountree. Bright windows glow behind pretty porches. The chatter of night bugs drones below my iPod — I’m in a Girl Talk mood these days. Streetlights make the leaves sparkle. And I am all alone.

If you haven’t ever walked down the middle of a (non-busy, of course) street at night, you’ve got to do it sometime. At least once. Just feel yourself being there. Being anywhere is pretty neat, when you stop to think seriously about it. (Runner’s High helps you think seriously about things like that…things like your place in the world and how nice it is to be alive. Which, I know. Sounds like bullshit.) But it’s easier to appreciate just being, in the dark, under the stars, when all the voices are turned off.

Bonus: I’ve found that windmill arms can enhance the feelings of wellbeing, if you feel so inclined.

Me, Myself & Jenksie Cat

Warning: This post contains a few “oh snap!”s and at least one “oh no she didn’t!!” Proceed at your own risk…

An open letter to every boy who ever broke my heart.
(yes. this is happening.)

Dearest ex-dearest(s):

If you think this post is about you, it probably is. (But also really, really isn’t.)

This letter began as musings that tossed around in my head while I was running tonight. I think about you sometimes when I run…and I’m sorry to admit these thoughts are not always nice. Maybe because running is one of the times in life when I like myself the most…

Still, I got a little sad with each doo-wop song that shuffled on my iPod, and so I started to get a little pissed off. (This pissed-ness aided, no doubt, by the one-two punch that is BeyoncĂ© & The Raconteurs, also on regular earbud rotation.) While jogging along to finger-wagging pop songs about Moving On and Being Okay About It, I thought about how I’ve spent years of my life waiting for some boy to like me back (or like me’front… it’s an old joke. still love it).

And where has all this waiting gotten me? Back to the same old place… just me, myself, and my cat.

It’s been almost two months since the most recent breakup. And tonight was maybe the first night since then that I’ve felt 100% content to be alone. Sure, I’m okay about it most of the time. But tonight — this little night that I spent here all by my lonesome — was a night I wouldn’t trade for time with you or any other boy. (Besides, you know, the standard Jon Hamm / Adam Scott / Gene Kelly fantasy list.)
And I mean that. For once. 100%.

This feeling is kind of a novelty. This “happy to be alone” feeling. And it’s growing on me. Tonight I played piano, cooked super good vegetarian food, went running in perfect weather, watched The Daily Show. Things I enjoy, but often put off when we were together, so that I could spend time with you.

How many nights has my piano sat neglected in the corner, serving as nothing more than a perching-place for the cat? It’s too bad, because when I take the time to practice, I’m actually pretty good. When my hands and mind and heart and ears are all in…we make beautiful music together.
Music makes me feel smart. And creative. And powerful. And happy.

And I am those things. Without you.

So why am I writing all this? Well, mostly for my own good. And for the enjoyment of anyone I know who’s also had their heart stomped on by someone who promised they weren’t going anywhere… (Because remember, this both is and is really, really not about you.)

But it’s also for you. I sincerely hope that you read this.
In fact, there are a lot of things I hope for you…

I do hope that you end up happy.
I hope you learn to love someone else as much as you love yourself.
I hope someday you finally learn the difference between “your” and “you’re.” (And, no, you’re not the only one… But, really. Just. Figure it out.)
I also hope that the next time you find yourself beside whatever leggy 22-year-old you’re currently passing time with, you pause for just a second to think about these legs. (These legs. Remember them?)

doublemint.

These legs have walked in Paris, Rome, your bedroom.
They ran a marathon.
They’ve put toes in the ocean on both sides of the world.
They’ve stood onstage (in heels) while I made hundreds of people laugh.
They still look goooood in them jeans.
And, as of tonight, these legs are no longer afraid to walk away from you.*

*Cue Beyoncé-finger-wag.

So, dearest ex-dearest, as the list of boys who thought I was worth leaving behind keeps getting longer, the list of reasons why you’ll regret it grows, too.

(I might regret writing this in the morning. But probably not. I’ve always thought it’s best to be honest. That’s yet another way in which we’ll have to agree to disagree.)

Have a good night,
sj