Slowing down, and still moving

The winter in the northeast sucked if you have to and want to run. I’m not one of those hardy souls who can run in single-digit weather and ice on the road, so I’m familiar with the treadmills in my gym–when they’re working. But when they are, they’re good for regulating speed. Which is important for a slug like me. But sometime in late January, I became more of a slug than usual. I ran my short runs faster at the start of the year, and I felt confident about my speed, and my state after the run. Then came snowstorms, ice, a pile of work and staying in the city a couple of overnights. It was a perfect storm of ryhthm-destruction. I tried to do some core work, but that’s no sub for cardio. At the start of February, trying to recapture that pace. And…it was a struggle. Getting through four miles was an awful slog, so much so that I felt light-headed, a rarity  for me–and a warning sign. What’s wrong? What’s happening here? Was it the food I was eating? Was it my health? The self-diagnosis was terrible; I had to look back at what I was doing, and not doing, and figure out how to fix this. It looked dark for a while, as I’m preparing for a 20k and a 21k–would I have to abandon the first run? (I’m not abandoning the second–too much money sunk into it, plus timme is on my side there). Then, the thought quietly came–slow down a little. Ego says you need to be building, building, building, faster, faster, faster. But even getting through a 5k on the treadmill was a struggle. It wasn’t fun, but a chore. One evening run, I slowed the treadmill down just a little bit. And it made all the difference. I was happy going slower. Speed and times are fine, but with running, the experience for me is paramount. I want to finish in decent  shape, feel the relief of hitting the finish, listen to strangers cheer me on. I can always look up the times I finished, but the memories of races–the snow, the sun, the signs–mean more to me.
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Re-entry

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I spent three great days back home in Brussels this past weekend, and going back to what my mom called my third home felt like slipping on an old pair of jeans–comfortable, soothing, everything in its place. My hotel didn’t have my room ready, so I spent a few jet-lagged hours wandering the town, falling back into what was my usual end of week routine of heading downtown to wander the narrow streets. I wasn’t going to see the sights–I lived there for three years, so I know most of what’s there. It was to reconnect with a part of myself that had gotten put away in a drawer after coming to the suburbs of New Jersey. I saw old friends, talked about old and new times, and had some questions posed that have stayed with me on the flight back. The biggest one was one not posed, but lingered in the air–what do you need to be happy? 

The answer is probably not as much as I think, or what I’m told to strive for or what I’m expected to be. The walking around in Brussels was a symbol for what form a life may take: setting off for a distant land, exploring, discovering new sights and people, finding an alley you shouldn’t have walked down, and the urge and desire to see who you are what lies ahead. And the desire to sit on a bench, rest and take in all in. 

Night notes

**Even though i’m 41, iIm still learning–and relearning–things about relationships, and people, and me. and that’s good. i’m still awake. 

**When it comes to sex now, I think I’m more interested in the intimate than the physical. I want (hell, maybe need) the intimacy and connection these days more than the mechanical slip-tab-a-into-slot-b sex. Even if that connection should only last one night, I want to feel it deeply. 

And a TFTD: “There are lots of things a warrior can do at a certain time which he couldn’t do years before. Those things themselves did not change; what changed was his idea of himself.”
~ Carlos Castaneda

To be merely happy

It feels good in this moment to be happy, content. The feeling resembles a warm blanket on a cold night. Comforting, the proper place to be. And instead of trying to build on the happiness–what more do I need to do to keep this going?–it feels good to let the happiness in me just be. All the things that I can do to grow this happiness will be there–they can wait. Now, it’s simply contentment with what is.