This post has nothing at all to do with anything that my blog is supposed to be about except perhaps – obliquely – food.
I run and have been running now for some seven or eight years. Last night, as I ran a short circuit on Samish Island, I was thinking about running; how I started running, why I run and how much I love running.
When any one asks me why I run, I usually say that I run because it allows me to have two glasses of wine instead of one with dinner each evening. I don’t have to say no to things like chocolate cake or rice pudding. I simply run the damage off. (This is the oblique reference to food) My daughters say, jokingly I hope, “you are anorexic mum!”
Really ‘though, I started running as a personal challenge. The Age newspaper sponsors an annual run in Melbourne and when it started the pull was that runners got to end the course by running on to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – a Melbourne landmark. The Age always published a training guide for the 5 and 10k runs and the half marathon. Each Sunday there was a new guide to runs that should be completed as part of a training program each day of the week. I saw the guide one Sunday morning and wondered if I could convert my 5k morning dog walk to a 5k run simply by following the training guide each day. And so I started. I entered the 5K run. My first day I remember running for a minute and walking for two and so I progressed each day adding more distance and speed.
Mid way through the training program I was in Seattle for a conference. I remember running my first ever 20-minute-without-a-break run along the water front of Puget Sound.
Two weeks before the Run to the G (by the time I did the run the MCG management decided that the runners damaged the grass on the oval and we no longer got to finish the run inside the MCG: We simply ran to the G and finished) I did the 4k Mother’s Day run. At that point I decided I could do the 10k run to the G.
The next challenge was the half marathon. I trained for and ran my first one with my daughter and what I remember most about that was how the long training runs gave us the time and the opportunity to talk. When I re-run the training trails I still hear snatches of those conversations and remember how close running and training together feels. Two months ago I ran The Great Ocean Road half marathon with both of my daughters. We linked arms and crossed the finish line of the most spectacular run I have ever done.
When I travel to new cities I run. In Huddersfield last month I ran along the canals past old Woollen Mills and parts of the city denied to most travelers.
In Bow, Washington State USA where I am now I have run each day along long open roads past fields of potatoes and blueberries and corn. Blue mountains in the background, the higher peaks covered with snow. Telegraph lines tall and equally spaced – connected by wires draped languidly between each one. When I am tired I run two and walk one, The Jimmy Webb song Wichita Linesman in my head. Most of the words are gone and I can’t get past the first line. Yesterday a herd of cows broke the long straight run. Cows ran up to the fence and came along with me for the full long length of their paddock. At the end of Thomas Road a dusty group of Mexican workers moved from the blueberry fields towards parked cars. Three labrador dogs bounded up to me just to say hello. I ran out to Samish Island and noticed ripening raspberry bushes along the roadside and looked across Padilla Bay towards Anacortes noticing for the first time the currents across this wide expanse of water.
So this is why I run. Running empties my head of “stuff” and refills it with ideas, new landscapes … and joy. And it allows me to have an extra glass of wine …