Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The "Loyal" Hound

My husband calls our dog, "the royal hound." He clearly believes that he is kingly: he expects a treat every time he returns from a potty break, he assumes we will drive him all around town, and he demands to be pet by shoving his nose under your arm - even when you are holding a cup of coffee! He doesn't care. Ah yes. He perches on his sovereign pillow watching, waiting.

Then with one shove of my foot into a running shoe, he becomes "LOYAL HOUND!" He doesn't understand yet that you still have another shoe to put on or some warm-up to do; he is ready. He will turn multiple circles, whine a little to get you to hurry up, and stare between you and the door. If you walk out of the room, he is on your heels trying to pass you as if he knows exactly where you are going. Ah yes. He is the perfect running partner.

Loyal hound is always excited to go for a run. He will never turn you down. I love that he always wants to go. If I am feeling a bit under-motivated, his energy can become contagious. A little pick-me-up to make sure I don't falter on my running schedule.

Booney, the loyal hound, waits patiently to resume running
Our run today was a four miler to a new place near the pond: Scobie Point. On the map it looked like a side road that led right down to the water. I was hopeful that it would provide some pretty views. On the back road, I let the loyal hound off the leash and he became my pacer. In the beginning of the run I had to call him to heal several times because his pace was too fast for me - especially on the hills. Ever faithful, he slowed down to rejoin me. Nearing the two mile mark, we still hadn't come upon Scobie Point. The loyal hound was unfazed. He looked at me as if to say he could run forever. Eventually we had to turn around without finding Scobie Point. The loyal hound, steadfast in his role of running partner, remained anchored at my side all the way home.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March in like a Lion - out like a Lamb

Today was the start of my second week of running outside trying to master the hills of New Hampshire and it began with a "winter weather advisory." Perfect.  Here was my first big test of becoming a New England runner. I promised myself that once I moved my runs outside, I would not falter if faced with bad weather.  Countless times I have passed runners out on the road in frigid temperatures, snow, rain, and immense heat.  It can't be all that bad if they do it, right?  Bonus for me, my husband and the dog were both available to keep me company today.  This was a huge boost for my motivation.

With snow flakes finding a landing zone on my face and my support team in tow, I found myself thinking about the old weather belief I was taught growing up that if the month of March starts out cold and stormy it will end warm and sunny: in like a lion, out like a lamb.  On a day like today, as I watched my running shoes disappear into the snow covered road, I am hopeful that this classic lore holds true - not just for the weather, but for my running also.  Right now my running is still rough and wild completely lacking the smooth gentle calm of the more experienced runner.  Each day will advance to potentially better weather, and each run will hopefully progress my abilities.  Maybe by the end of the month the huffing and puffing will become the mere exhalation of hard work.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chasing waterfalls

One of the great perks to running outdoors is the unsuspecting little wonders you stumble upon.  Take this waterfall for example.  On a dirt road among the quiet of the snow-filled landscape and not another person in sight is this beautiful gem.  As you near the bend in the road, you can hear the crashing of the water long before you find the source.  Roaring and bubbling, the splashing waters create an uninterrupted steady pattern of endless rhythm. Louder and louder it rumbles like a wall of thunder pounding out the sounds of the world.  Suddenly the sparkling frothy water appears nestled between the granite, timber, and snow and you have to stop.   

Scobie Road

I admit, I chase waterfalls.  Sometimes I go after things that are too big for me, out of my league.  In the end, I might be overwhelmed, exhausted, disappointed or even hurt, but I also might be surprised by what I can accomplish.  Running is my waterfall.  It is a formidable and powerful thing yet graceful and alluring.  Natural runners pound the pavement with sleek powerful movements. When I run, it is work.  I am awkwardly heavy and I struggle to find my rhythm.  The terrain of NH makes it all the more challenging - no matter which way I turn, I am going to face a hill.  As I have now completed a couple of outdoor runs, I know that at the top of the hill is the crest. And even though I will probably encounter another hill before I am ready, I know that I am only getting better and stronger.  I am going to continue chasing waterfalls...  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

211 in 2011

So, I started the year with a running goal: run 211 miles in 2011. Since January 1, I have run 129.2 miles - almost all on the treadmill in our basement. You see, I live in New Hampshire, transplanted from southwest Ohio three years ago. I have not yet adjusted to the winters here in New England, nor the hills. This winter there was snow piled up and over the mailbox! Even without the snow, I have a hard time running on the roads because there really isn't an edge - you are pretty much stuck running on the yellows. Now if the roads were straight and flat like my old routes in OH this wouldn't be a big deal. NH roads are hilly, curvy, and intimidating. So I have spent the better part of 2 and a half months running on what "real" runners call the "dread-mill". I have been using a program on that schedules my runs and distances for me. My longest run has been six miles. It hasn't been so bad. I use some old yaffa blocks (left over from my college days) to set up my Mac and some speakers right in front of the machine and watch my favorite indulgences off while I run. Some of my favorites have been watching "Brad the Bachelor" make another attempt at love and "Biggest Loser" contestants work their butts off. Although I have enjoyed my runs in the confines of the frigid cold basement, it is time to head outdoors. This year I want to become a New England runner. Welcome to my running escapades!