Running with the Elk

September 30, 2011

This morning my alarm went off at 5 a.m., which is typical. What was atypical was my turning on bedside lamp, rolling over and saying, “You ready for this?”

This morning, folks, we became “runners.” No, not drug runners – pound the pavement, make sure you’re wearing good shoes, Jesus-Christ-it’s-cold at 5 a.m. runners.*

I’ve been talking about running for a long time. For at least three years, since I made my “30 Things to Do in My 30s” list and added “run a half or full marathon.” I’m not really sure what I was thinking, because I’ve tried running before, and I have never liked it. (That’s putting it gently, honestly, upon further consideration, I had wondered if there were races where they released hungry animals with jagged teeth as motivation.) Anyway, my friend Kelli recently started running, and more recently started sending me no so subtle hints about joining her for a half marathon. (Meaning emails with details for actual half marathons ending with the sentence, “What do you think?”) Kelli is fit; she started doing a local boot camp almost two years ago, but she’s not the kind of fit that makes you want to slap her around. While she is committed to her workout, it’s clear that she doesn’t always enjoy it. In this way Kelli and I are very similar in our commitment to fitness. It’s definitely results, rather than process driven.

As Kelli started completing 5ks it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe I might be able to train to run. At this point I realized it was never going to happen if I had to run by myself. I am way too self-conscious to jog down the street by myself, even in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. And so, I planted a seed. I dared my husband to be lazy. I placed a bet on his lack of follow through, and when he agreed to participate he placed one on my hatred of running out-pacing my desire to be able to blame our not running on him. This morning, at 5 a.m. we both lost those bets. We crashed, head on, in the ultimate game of chicken.

One day in and I’ll say this much: I didn’t hate it enough to not go back out on Sunday morning. It wasn’t easy, and we did a lot of intervals (walking to warm up, then running, then walking, then running, etc… you know, the recommended start to an actual running program), but it was “okay.” I will never be a person that declares she loves running, I can’t see that happening, but I was shockingly PROUD of the 30 minutes I spent outside this morning, before sunrise. I also really enjoyed having 30 minutes in the silent darkness with my husband before leaving for work this morning. (Sick, I know, but we are newlyweds.)

When Kelli texted me this afternoon, excited that Spencer and I had gone out, and asked me how it went, I responded that it felt “doable.”

Full Disclosure: This photo was taken at around 8 p.m., but those are the only two street lights on our street and that’s the opposite direction from which we ran. It was so dark the camera wouldn’t focus to the right of the house.

One note on something we didn’t consider before starting our morning adventure: how dark it is in Payson, Arizona at 5 a.m. at the end of September. We ran holding flashlights this morning and I ordered us head lamps after we returned to the house, after we had this conversation:

Patti: I really underestimated the creepiness of this little adventure.
Spencer: Yeah, you mean the feeling that someone could walk out their door and blow us away at any minute?**
Patti: My bigger concern was the coyotes we heard howling just before we left. I mean, Jan was attacked by a rabid bobcat in broad daylight in her yard.
Spencer: Fantastic.

*Arizona has ruined me, people, 75 is sweater weather now. The fact that we’re in the 50s at 5 a.m. means that it’s cold. I feel like an 80 year old woman. Anyway, I went out in a t-shirt and yoga pants, my husband wore a hoodie on top of his gear so I’m still winning.
**We live in Arizona, people can carry loaded weapons into bars here without special permits, and it’s hunting season. Honestly? I should have been worried about this, too.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: