Sometimes its hard to find the time to workout. Often for me, a time constraint gets me going much harder than I would otherwise; for example, running my fastest effort of the year for 5k the day after running my longest continuous run. My wife is my best training partner as she will give me time to go out and I'll try to squeeze as much out of that time as possible. I have had some of my best rides and runs ever after being given a time constraint that results in an disgruntled stare if I break in the door late. I wish I could say that I was always back on time, but that would be a gross overstatement. Once, when I was a fit and fast cyclist, I set out on a 50 mile ride which I blasted through and finished in 2.5 hours, solo. I was quite impressed with myself, until I realized that I was a half-hour late... sorry Michelle.
Last night, I had 25 minutes so I took off on what was to be a quick jog. The air was crisp and as I settled into the motion of running I felt a little pep in the legs; it was a good night to run fast. I picked up the pace after half a mile and mentally committed to the effort. The run from the day before began to show its effects as the sub-7 pace started to feel a bit labored, "too late to slow down now though, gotta go under 21:00 for 3 miles." Mile 1 ticked by and my Garmin beeped, revealing mile one to have taken 7:16. Running fast hurt, but it was a good kind of hurt. I passed houses where people sat inside, lights on, in the warmth of a comfy couch, staring at a glowing box, feeling much less alive than I was feeling at the moment.
Entering a dark area of my route, my headlamp lit up just enough to keep me from tripping. Mile two, 6:46, now that was more like it... As I turned the corner to head home, I was no longer running, but soaring from the joy of running fast through the night. My legs were churning around 6:20 pace now and I felt completely alive. "Too peppy" I thought, better keep it realistic. Mile three beeped on my watch, 6:43. With just a couple tenths of a mile left, I began reflecting on the week, it was a week of stress, and of joy. I felt humble to be as blessed as I was. Now I neared the end of the loop, slowing enough to notice a little white car approaching on my side of the road. Its windows were down and I knew what was coming; one teenager hung his head out from the backseat and let out a wimpy attempt at intimidation, "ahhhh!" he yelled. With 41 miles in my legs for the week, adrenaline in my veins, and the built up stress from my week looking for a place to escape, I yelled back with my loudest, most primal, straight-out-of-Braveheart shout, "AAHHHHH!!!!" It was as if the pressure of a week of grading, teaching, and disciplining was released. I smiled as the car continued rolling away and I heard a distinct "holy s---!" come from the car. Poor teenagers... they had no idea how the pure, releasing, joy of motion can breathe life into a tired man.
As I ease into a new week, I am mindful of how much a small moment of freedom in a life of obligations and responsibilities can rejuvenate the mind and body. Happy Presidents day everyone, get out there and feel alive today.