Category Archives: fulfillment

Running Challenge

Last night I set a running challenge for myself to complete this morning. I had no specific goals in mind regarding pace or anything. I had one simple target. Finish the run and, spoiler alert, I did. I finished one of my most challenging runs to date.

I have been wanting to start running more trail runs and run distances of half marathon or a little more. My biggest challenge has been figuring out runs that would allow me to stay in shape for those type of events. A friend suggested I run from my house to a nearby nature preserve, Plymouth Woods.

For some people that might not sound too bad, but for me it is a little different. I live nearly at the top of a 1500+ ft high hill. I am not good at hills and have relatively little experience running them. Earlier this year for the first time I ran down my hill and then right back up. But on that run I did not add any more mileage than just down the hill and back up, plus that run was on the less steep side of the hill.

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Today I ran down the steepest side of the hill. I ran down the hill and out along the highway and reached the nature preserve at just short of 5 miles. I felt pretty tired on this first part. Surprisingly so. But once I started on those trails I felt so much better. There is just something about getting out in nature. Those leaves crunching under your feet. Alone except the mammoth trees towering over head. These are the things that propel me.

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I used that energy to hit all the trails available at Plymouth Woods. The Red Trail, The Blue Trail, The Orange Trail, and Another loop on Red. It was a tough hilly run but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn’t fast, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to get out for a run and enjoy myself and just see what I could do. While I was at Plymouth the weather started to turn against me. I am pretty sure I was being pelted with ice pellets at one point.

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This photo captures a lot of how it felt running in the gloom and darkness of overcast skies and bad weather. But I still enjoyed it.

I left Plymouth woods and headed back down the highway towards home and the hill that lie ahead. The way back was a little down hill so I actually achieved a decent pace for me. But the whole way back I was consumed of thoughts of the hill that loomed ahead of me.

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This is what it looks like if you look out straight ahead from one of the slopes you descend at Plymouth Woods.

I got to the bottom of Combs Hill Rd felling pretty good, but I knew I could never run up that slope. So I didn’t and I didn’t feel bad about it. I did the best I could so that I could cover the rest of the distance to get back home once I got to the top. If I had tried to run I would likely have ended up just slowly walking the last mile or two back home and I was not having that. I wanted to have something left in the tank to get me home. It did not help that the weather was turning or it was just getting colder due to the increased elevation, but it was getting windy and cold. But I pushed on. It actually helped to motivate me to run. It was too cold to walk.

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This is what the slope actually looks like if you look down the hill, and it gets steeper as you go.

When I got back home I wasn’t quite to 12 miles so I actually ran past my house and then back to it so I could get to 12. I was hoping the run would be closer to 13 miles but it wasn’t quite as long as I thought it would be. Maybe I will add another loop in the woods next time.

I got back and I was exhausted. My legs were wobbly and sore. I walked more than I would have liked, particularly after surmounting Combs hill on the way back, but I made it. I achieved my goal. I challenged myself and I pushed myself and I did it. This is why I love running. I can challenge myself. I can test my limits and I can learn about myself and I can adapt and get stronger. Now, what is the next challenge…..

Check out the profile of this run on Garmin Connect.

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I arrived back home happy and tired. Feeling accomplished.

Today’s Running Partner

The more I develop myself over the years the more I learn that things I love and that are important to me fit together. I have been a long time dog lover. And over the last few years I have become an increasingly avid runner. I have been making more time to run than to do most other things in my life these days. I never thought I would say that. As I have been getting more into running I have really been wanting to be able to run with one of my dogs. I have tried in the past to run with one of our dogs but it didn’t really work out well for either of us. But I am thinking that I may try to get more dedicated to this idea. So today I set out with my new running partner today.

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Running together will require a lot of learning and training on both our parts. Brynn will need to work on walking and running on my left so we can stay on the proper side of traffic when running and stay away from cars (something I should have been teaching her all along, my bad.) Brynn will also need to learn to stay by my side and not get too far out ahead. She will also need to learn to stay constant and not stop to sniff or investigate interesting things while we are running.

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I will need to learn to modify my running plans to suit Brynn’s needs. Now I have to think about both of us instead of just me. That means extra water for her as well as for me if we are out for long runs as well as extra night lights if we run before or after the sun is out. More planning will be required on my part.

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The best thing is that on what was basically our first run together it went pretty smoothly. Brynn didn’t get too distracted to stop and smell things or try to rip my arm off to run and chase things like squirrels and other dogs. I owe this to the hard work with training my wife and I put in when we first got her, although we need to be more consistent with it. “Leave it.” is a magic phrase that will make your life with your dog much easier if you teach them that cue. Trust me.

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Brynn can dust me in a sprint or in repeated sprints over and over. She seems to have limitless energy playing n the back yard and fetching her Chuck It ball. or even just ramming around the house playing with her infinite number of toys. It was kind of nice to see that even though she can wear me out in short bursts of energy I can outlast her in distance running thanks to my training. We went out for what is a short run for me these days, just a 5k. Brynn started off strong, perhaps too strong. An error that I am sure many of my runner friends can relate to. I started off relatively slow for me.  Brynn started off out in front of me at the end of her leash. She still looked like she was just trotting along out in front, and not really exerting herself. However, by the time we were inside of a mile left to be done she had slowed considerably. She was either beside me or just behind me most of that last mile.

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She didn’t seem to be working too hard nor panting much, but she was definitively slowing down and getting tired from the sustained exertion. It’s nothing like the heavy panting and raged breathing and rapidly expanding chest she exhibits during her sprints across our yard to fetch her ball. She is definitely a sprinter and not a distance runner at this point. Something I definitely would have said for myself at one point, even though I really never was even a sprinter.

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So, Brynn and I will continue to work together. Hopefully frequently to work on her running with me on leash in hopes that I can run with her at events that welcome dogs some day. The sad part is I like that she is currently tired out and sleeping under my desk as I write this after our run. I am not sure if I really want to keep taking her out regularly and build up her stamina so that she will have even more energy and be able to run longer and longer and then require longer and longer runs to tire her out so she comes home and is peacefully sleeping at my feet. I like tired Brynn. I like that it only took 3 miles to tire her out. Here’s to the future of a new running-mate.

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Now I just have to work on incorporating photography into my actual runs. But I have a few ideas about that too. Stay tuned.

Ideas that never see the light of day

I find that throughout the day I have a variety of ideas come to mind.  Bet this happens to you too. I often have enough ideas pop into my head that at some point I have forgotten at least one or more of the ideas I thought of. Some ideas are not important and are little frivolous things with really no significant consequences if I forget them. Other ideas are more important to me and may have to do with business, photography, art, dogs, or a variety of other topics that interest me. Some of these ideas are things that I would like to research a little more or read up on. Some of them I would like to write down and see if I can find a way to make these ideas work for me in some real way and incorporate them into my life. To help me do this I have started writing things down more (typing them up in my Evernote app). This way I at least don’t forget them and can come back to them and reference them and rewrite things and make changes and updates as I find out more information.

I find that actually making my ideas happen is where my shortcomings factor in. I love to think of things and think about things. I have a constant flow of information that I like to read and listen to and this inspires me with new ideas and thoughts frequently. And these ideas get added to my list. I write them down and describe what I think I would like to do. And then……. And then nothing. It fizzles out. That nice long list of ideas and goals and projects that I have generates very little actual action. Nothing gets produced. Nothing gets done. It’s not that I stop thinking about the ideas or topics I have noted. It’s that I just can’t bring myself to make any further progress. I am a world class procrastinator for one. I can always find a reason to put things off or something else I can do instead. Like write down more ideas. I also, as many people probably do, experience significant anxiety about taking any further action on a variety of tasks. This part of making it real creates some real, at least in my mind, fear. Fear of exposing myself to the world, or that one person I have to send this to, to try to move on to the next step. I am afraid I will be rejected. Afraid to be exposed as a fraud. Afraid to succeed? If I take that next step and I am not rejected then I have to do more work and then probably expose myself to even more people and possibly even more rejection. Is it in my head or is it real? I don’t know. Maybe it’s both.

While the fear and anxiety may be real, is it justified? If I am rejected what have I really lost or suffered? There is no real physical threat but the threat is to my psyche and my psyche is very sensitive to that threat. I should be able to overcome it. I tell myself this all the time. It is not logical to fear sending an email, making a phone call, or submitting my photography to an editor. What is the worst that can happen? They can tell me no thanks or just ignore me. And I have been told no in the past and it hasn’t hurt me and it hasn’t closed the doors to those opportunities. I can contact other people with my ideas and get a yes eventually if I keep trying. So why is it that I have such a hard time moving on to this phase of idea and project fulfillment? Perhaps I will never know. Maybe I am not meant to know. It seems so simple. Just write a letter and hit send. But it is so much easier for some reason for me to sit here in my cozy box in my comfort zone where I do not have to take that chance. I don’t have to reach out and make contact and expose myself. Will I ever be truly happy in my career that way? Probably not, but I will be safe. Do I want only to be safe? No I want to be happy. I have spent my whole life with the single-minded idea that I want a career I enjoy and find fulfillment in. SO why is it so hard for me to take the necessary steps to make that happen. Why am I afraid of finding happiness, of fulfilling myself? Maybe I am afraid that after all of this work and thought I will be wrong and I will not be fulfilled by my choice of pursuits. Maybe that is the real fear that is holding me back.