Saturday, February 13, 2010

Speed Demon

I am trying to remember what it feels like to sleep in on Saturday mornings. It's been a while but all the same, Saturday mornings have come to be my favorite time of the week. I wake up before the rest of my sweet family and go out for a long run. When I return, I'm a new (and much more pleasant) woman. Lately I've gotten hooked on trail running. It's the best! No cars, stop lights, traffic, noise, roads. I love the mud, creek crossings, wild animals, trees, nature and the calm that it brings to my soul.

So this morning, I woke up, washed down my bagel & cream cheese with a steamy cup of coffee and checked my crackbook. My quiet, me-time was quickly interrupted by my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 5 year-old who decided to wake up early. To maximize my slumber, I had set my alarm clock for as late as possible while still allowing time to get dressed have a light breakfast, brush my teeth and check my computer. Kass distracted me with her happy chatter. After realizing how late it was, I went into my bedroom and whined to my husband who begrudgingly got up and assumed his Saturday morning kid-duty routine.

As quickly as possible, I put on my muddy trail shoes, grabbed the bag that I had carefully packed (Gu, Gingies, CliffBars, wallet, phone, hat) and headed out the door with my dog Japhy. The previous day Japhy had rolled around on an unfortunate worm that happened to be in my lawn. Mysteriously enough, worms are scentless until they have been smashed and smeared into the neck of my dog. At which point they take on a particularly rank smell. I placed Japhy who is named after a character in my favorite Jack Kerouac novel "Dharma Bums". It was the only way I could get my husband to agree on letting me have a dog some eight years ago. Japhy Ryder of "Dharma Bums" is a fascinating character: Zen poet hiker minimalist nature lover. This dog would get Steve and I out into nature and keep us from forgetting about the all important search for Dharma (truth). I am still trying to determine if he's lived up to his namesake but that's another story for another time.

Once Japhy and I are in the car, we set off to pick up my running partner who I hope won't be too offended by my dog's ripe scent. I have a whole ten minutes to make it across town to pick her up at the planned time. I have a complex about being late. I don't mind if others are a few minutes late but I despise being even five minutes late to most of my destinations. I cranked up the radio to get myself pumped for the run and hightailed it out out of the driveway. I was having a good old time blazing down a nearly empty 7th Avenue until my stinky dog squeezed through the doggie gate and weaseled his way into the seat next to me. God, he reeked! I rolled down the window to try to keep from swooning from the odor. I didn't have time to pull over and return him to his rightful location. Oh well. Nothing was going to dampen my spirits on my long trail run day! Shortly thereafter, I checked my rear view mirror and noticed flashing red and blue lights behind me.

Crap! I knew I was speeding but did he see me texting at the red lights? Was I weaving or running red lights in my previous and short-lived blissed out pre-run state? I was relieved that at least I had remembered to bring my wallet, that actually held my license and a relatively current insurance card. I rolled down my window to greet the officer and see if I could talk my way out of the ticket. Japhy decided to give the deputy an earful. He was barking his fool head off. I apologized profusely, grabbed his collar and moved him into the back gated area where he should have been in the first place. Meanwhile, I hoped like heck that I had a cool officer that would issue me a warning rather than a ticket.

No such luck. Evidently the officer had been following me for a while and wondered where I was going in such a hurry. He claimed that I was going 42 MPH in a 25 MPH zone right in front of City Hall. I had no doubt that I was going that fast. The one break he gave me was by saying that I was in a 30 MPH zone rather than a 25 MPH so my insurance wouldn't freak out on me when they found out about my infraction. I looked at the citation. $142 fine! There would be no trips to Buffalo Exchange, Miss Meers or even Sephora on this lovely 3 day weekend. I slowly went along my way wondering how I'd break the news to Steve who'd been on my case about me driving too fast lately. Wait a minute! This was my first speeding ticket EVER! How had I managed to avoid speeding tickets until the ripe age of 38? Pretty impressive I would say. Why have I suppressed this urge to speed for all these years? It was rather exhilarating!

This speeding ticket, my FIRST, had to be an omen. My confidence as a runner has always been lacking. I constantly doubt my ability to run the distance, stay injury free, stay consistent, finish races, etc. but probably the most haunting doubt is my ability to run fast. I still see myself as (on a good day) a ten minute miler. Lately I've been wondering about my lofty goal of breaking 4 hours at the 2010 Eugene Marathon. I couldn't help but think that since my marathon PR is 4:19, that I should set a goal of that shaved maybe five or ten minutes from that PR rather than a whopping 19 minutes. Until just a couple months ago, I dreaded, despised and often skipped the speed work portion of my running routine. I wouldn't go as far as saying that I enjoy my speedwork but am noticing and appreciating the results of those tempo runs and intervals. As silly as it sounds, this yellow speeding ticket may very well have been what I needed to reveal to myself that there is a speed demon in me waiting for permission and the opportunity to fly. I have eleven weeks left to train for this marathon. I am not holding back. I can do it.


  1. This first entry reminds me of your story of crewing me at Hundred in the Hood last fall. You find correlations between totally unrelated elements and create cohesion between them. I would have missed the connection between your ticket and your aversion to running speed. Some people pay a lot more than $142 for that kind of coaching advice. I think you should follow your own take on this and go for it.

    Finding the "always in never" is a deeply profound thing to do. Searching for it is a courageous one. Here's to the pursuit.

  2. I love this! So inspirational.
    At 30yrs-old I got a speeding ticket. This was the 9th ticket in a span of 14 years of driving. Yes, the 9th. This last ticket I didn't deserve. No...really...I didn't! However, it was the one that changed my life. The Court sent me to "Driving School" along with a bunch of teenage hooligans, who were duly impressed with my driving record. I don't remember exactly what all we were taught, but I went away with a not-so-gentle-reminder of "making good choices" and "slow down". "Slow down, Karen!", became one of my mantras.

    I am not a runner. I despise running. It is painful and not enjoyable. My legs can go forever and ever, but my lungs and my boobs will not allow me to go far. With that said, I admire runners and have, for as long as I can remember, wanted to be able to run 1 mile without stopping. I don't even care how long it takes me to run that mile, I just want to do it.
    Sunday night I FINALLY donned my Asics and I walked 4 minutes. Then I ran 2 minutes. Yes, I ran for 2 minutes straight. Isn't it crazy-especially to a seasoned runner-that THIS is such a big deal for me? The first round of 2 minutes of running were excruciatingly painful. Then I reminded myself: "Slow down". And when I did, it wasn't AS painful. I continued in this walk/run pattern for about 30 min. When done, I walked in to the house feeling exhilarated. I had ran for 2 min. nonstop not just once, but multiple times!
    I will be reading your blog (and some of the ones you listed) for inspiration. Can't wait to catch up on the rest of your entries. Thanks for sharing! I am going "running" again tonight. Wish me luck! :)

  3. Way to go "mental chatter"! That's the same way I eased into running. A couple minutes at a time & good golly, did I dislike it at 1st. I have been recovering from an injury for the last 2 months and have doctor's clearance to run one mile at a time. I SO miss running & am feeling like a beginner all over again. Thanks so much for your kind comments & for following my blog.