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60s cheerleaders

It was hard to get going this morning. I can blame it on too much coffee, not enough sleep, loading up on that super sweet granola when I usually don’t eat before I run. Whatever the reason, I did not feel like running this morning. I dressed, got momentarily excited about trying out my new sports bra, did some stretching, and started out slowly. It was a bit cold for 8:00 am and I found myself sticking to the sunny spots rather than looking for the shade. I was actually crossing the street to avoid shade. I did a little more than I thought I would, which usually happens, even though my legs were kind of tight and mushy (tight and mushy???) throughout the whole run.

I felt like I never quite warmed up today. I made a point of keeping my arms low and slack. I am constantly surprised at how much effort it takes to stay relaxed! My arms want to come up above my waist even though it drains my energy to do so.  A running friend told me that it’s best to keep them down, and relaxed, unless I’m running up a hill. It does relax my shoulder and neck muscles when I run with my hands near my thighs, I’ve found, but they creep back up on their own volition. I think I’m working some new muscles just by trying to keep my arms down. I’ve been observing other runners’ form and I’m surprised that many hold their hands up near their chest, swing their shoulders, or let their wrists flop around. I’m trying to be aware of having the correct form and whether it’s helping or hindering me.

The most interesting thing I saw this morning was a woman walking four dogs and a baby carriage. Everyone was well-behaved. The dogs were just walking along, not pulling or barking, the baby was sleeping; they looked like they had practiced this for some time and had it down. It could have been a chaotic event. When I passed her, I said “Wow!” and she nodded with a tired smile. Good for her. I’m sure there’s some lesson there for me but at the moment I’m not sure what it is.

I told someone about writing this blog on running and she didn’t seem too impressed. Maybe it was because I’ve become excited about so many other projects lately that only lasted a day or two. That’s what she brought up—what about the work you were doing that came from the art gallery? Oh, that. Well, I’ve lost interest. Or maybe I’m still interested in a way, but I’m not really doing it anymore. What it was, was writing to a subject, the way poets do. I remember taking a poetry class and noticing that the real poets wrote from the perspective of a “speaker” and wrote to someone or something. I had never tried this before until I was in an art gallery with a poet pal and did some writing exercises (which I had miserably agreed to do with her) writing about paintings. My friend was actually writing to the subjects in the paintings—never occurred to me to do this but I loved it! So, I’ve been doing that for a month or so, little snippets, “poemettes” where I speak to the tomato plant, to the bird on a wire, to myself from my body’s point of view. It’s been interesting and it’s working some kind of artistic muscle that I’ve never used before. I don’t think I’m done with that, and I don’t know where it will lead, in fact, I think I may be using it now as I write this to an audience, to the reader of my blog—you, the person interested in running and writing and escaping reality as much as possible. You may not be my subject but I’ve never been so aware of an audience before. I suspect that I’ll see more come out of this in the future.

Today, when I was running, I kept thinking about what I would write when I got home. I would write some deep and ponderous things about the woman with the dogs and the baby,  the man watering his tomatoes, the yellow leaves that have cropped up on trees here and there, the golden light of fall that I love so much. I had such a hard time being in the moment, busy “writing” as I ran. Not that those things can’t go together. I have experienced that often as I walk (while working on my dissertation, as well as my last novel). Walking brought clarity, inspiration, even story to my mind. I’m experiencing some of that now with running. I think, however, that this morning I was trying to force it. Thinking ahead to my blog that I would be starting and how this is the way I would become famous, just like the woman in that film about Julia Child. I have questions now about the ethics of profiting from spirituality (inspiration, meditation—whatever you want to call it). Is this a spiritual exercise for me (writing, running, sharing my personal experience) or am I trying to find my niche? Make a buck? Get famous? All of those things, I suppose, and I’m probably not the first writer to be in a quandary over it. Maybe I should just stop thinking about the future and whether I will be on Oprah or on Ellen to talk about my book that came from this blog and just write for today. This book/blog is different from my fiction (as well as my poorly disguised memoir written as fictitious regional/coming of age novel based on my childhood) in that I knew the endings to those, or at least, it was up to me to fabricate an ending. I thought about where the story was going, plotted the course. This book (I can’t help it)—I have no idea. It is truly a work-in-progress and I love that. It is a one day at a time project and I will have to wait and see where it goes. Just like you do (if you’re still there). I’m thinking, write for seven more months, until 9/9/2011 (my one year anniversary of running). I can try that. If I don’t think it’s a good place to stop, I’ll keep going—just trust the process.

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