Tomorrow is my one-year anniversary of running. I remember about this time last year I went down to Carnation, Washington to cheer on my husband as he ran the half-marathon Beat the Blerch race. While there we bought The Oatmeal’s “The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances,” and it was a life-changer. The book was written after the author had been running for a decade and had reached ultra-marathon status. The week after I read the book I began the “couch to 5K” running program. I am no ultra-marathoner, not even close. I run 7-10 miles a week, having done two 10Ks and lots of 5Ks, most of the latter being just regular weekly runs. I have had ups and downs. I’ve had epiphanies and struggles. I have, however, never wanted to give it up. Some things get under your skin, and running is one of them. I consider myself a casual runner and really want to get better. I have had a few setbacks, the main one being IT-band flare-ups, but I learned some stretches to help take care of that for the most part. Nowadays it’s mostly some ongoing back pain, which I am getting a CT scan for at the end of the month and hoping that it’s nothing serious.
My biggest joy of running occurs in nature. With pockets of urban rainforest surrounding my home, I’ve gone out and explored trails and streams and mountains. I’ve scaled steep inclines that really aren’t even runnable and stood atop coastal hills and mountains to view the magical forests and valleys below. I’ve joined races to contribute fundraising for cancer and/or environmental causes (cancer often being an environmental problem). I’ve also planned trips like an upcoming weekend at Wells Grey Provincial Park, which boasts the Cariboo Mountains overlooking the beautiful glacial valleys and drainage basin of Clearwater Lake and River, along with the tall Helmcken Falls–this will be a trip to enjoy the last remnants of pre-snow weather (or, it is possible at that time that there will be snowfall in the interior mountains).
I’ve also quite frequently blogged about running in the Anthropocene–which I’ve experienced often: a Pacific Northwest strange season of wildfires, drought, and heatwaves. Rolling Stone Magazine recently published an article about these megablazes and how they relate to climate change. The one thing that really stood out to me in this news piece, besides the horror of what is to be expected as we move forward, is that “With Gov. Jay Inslee calling the blazes an ‘unprecedented cataclysm,’ Washington even deputized citizen volunteers to fight the fires, where they joined professional crews from as far away as Australia and New Zealand.” Every time disaster occurs, people step up and volunteer the hell out of themselves, and that’s what makes us good and ties us together despite differences. I’m reminded of a newspaper title during the Boston Marathon bombing a couple years ago: “One Act of Evil – A Thousand Acts of Kindness.” It is the ones who step up–perhaps they do not get the credit all the time–who truly amaze me and give me hope for humankind.
I have to credit my dad, who I’ve blogged about often, for being so uplifting and positive about people, even those who perhaps have a hard time putting their best foot forward. It is because of Dad, who instilled this faith or hope for humankind in me that, despite all the terrible things going on in the world, I’ve learned it is not doing us any good to focus on negative things. Why expend energy on the negative when one can look at the good instead (even if sometimes it is hard to find). I read once that it takes more muscles to frown that it does to smile. It really is a constant lesson for me to remember that people who treat me wrongly, for instance, are really none of my concern and to just forget them and move on–and gravitate instead toward those who are good, trustworthy people, often forming surprising and unlikely friendships. It is with this positive energy that I feel hope. Even when I struggle, either through life or in running, I can never move onward without the essential self-preservationist courage to just do it. This would also extend to how we treat Nature around us. Why focus on the deniers or the skeptics or the folks who don’t understand simple ecological systems and think we can just keep on drilling and mining and burning; ignore them, for they too will go away. It’s obvious to me that people are leaning toward protection of our Earth, and it grows stronger and stronger each day.
NOW IT IS TIME FOR A DAMN GLASS OF WINE TO CELEBRATE!