Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From the Mouths of Babes

"Daddy, I want you to be happy." She's only three, which is an age I can't remember being myself, but memories from my (slightly) later childhood flood back to me nonetheless. She knows I don't want to be doing this, that I'd rather be doing just about anything else. Memories of my dad being ticked off, attempting some ill-concieved home-improvement project, upset at my mom, who sometimes assisted. Mom read the directions, dad never had the patience. I know now they weren't yelling AT each other, but it made me nervous none-the-less.

I'm in the kitchen with my bag from Ace Hardware, finishing what is my third trip to the hardware store today as she looks up at me with worried eyes. Installing a new faucet for the kid bathroom shouldn't involve the patience, steely resolve and pain tolerance of a long tempo or marathon pace run, but it does for me. I am not a do-it-yourselfer, but I'm even less of a pay-someone-elser. But the valve continues to drip, even though the water supply is off, my shoulder is cranked to an impossible angle as I bloody my knuckles trying to turn the wrench in the 1 inch of clearance between the sink and cabinet. My back and hair are soaked now, the body tired from the various contortions necessary for any plumbing process, but it's done. Haiden is thrilled to have a faucet she can turn on and off herself. The old one had the plastic "mini-Epcot-Center" ball for a handle, which her hands weren't big or strong enough to turn. She washes her hands, turning the water off and on about 20 times. She brushes her teeth, because she can, even though it's about an hour before dinner.

I want to be happy too. Drive H to dance class, drop off insoles at podiatrist, go to hardware store, return to podiatrist, meet family for lunch with friends, back to the hardware store. Under the sink, multiple curses, back to the hardware store, back under the sink. I am happy at some level, though I need to keep it closer to the surface around the wife and kids, even when things don't go to plan.

I can do this when I run. Even when I'm tired from six miles the evening before that got me back to the garage at 9pm. Even when I still can't shake being sick, and I'm sputtering with coughing fits and clouded-over lungs. I can be happy, climbing up through the hills of Sabino Canyon, to the top of the road and back down again, splashing through the overflowing creek crossing twice, once each way to even out the soaked shoes.

I can still manage a smile when after almost 10 miles of difficult, hilly running I can break into six miles at marathon pace. If I kind of jump before I cough, I can keep pace and not feel the sting as bad in my adductors. I shake my head and continue as I hit the uphill section after the turnaround, knowing that while it's a difficult day I will be able to do the workout. Even with just over a mile of effort left, when the school bus jumps ahead of me only to stop, forcing me to suck the exhaust of the 7 cars behind it and simultaneously dodge the kids getting on the bus, I can be happy. Even when this pattern repeats itself 2 more times (it's nice to run on the bus route), I know with one turn there's less than a half a mile to go.

Finding a way to manage everyday life the way I manage my running is the challenge. My runs, even when difficult, are almost always positive affairs that leave me smiling at the end. I know that part of it is the fact that I'm able to run (for the most part) on my own terms, school-buses aside. Real-life certainly isn't this way. I see my potential as a runner as almost limitless, the challenge is to see the other 22 hours of each day the same way. That's the example I want to set for Haiden and Finn.

Training: Today, 16 miles, 1:50:28, 6:54 pace, with 10 miles of strong hilly running followed by 6 miles at 6:02 pace
Yesterday pm., 6 miles, 46:24, 7:44 pace
Yesterday am., 6 miles, 46:16, 7:40 pace, easy with Haiden in the jogging stroller for a muffin run


Scooter said...

But for me, the runs seem to often be exercises in becoming pissed off.

(And I've gotten the "don't fight" lecture from Matthew)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

This post really resonates with me.

Mike said...

Thanks Angie. Scoot, I hear you, and I've certainly struggled through some tough ones too (a stretch 2 weeks ago comes to mind). Even then, I'm always happy I did it afterwards, even if it didn't exactly go to plan.

Johnny Lyons said...

The runs can be like that for me, if I don't feel pressured to do others life chores. At least you're aware of how you want to be, if you maintain that desire, you'll get there.

Your long run post sounded like an ultra. You should do Pemberton next year, it's a great transition from road running. You should be able to plan on your Sabino Canyon paces on that smooth dirt trail. The winning time this year was 3:31 and the record is 3:17 for a 50 kilometer course. It's a lot easier than any of our trails.

But I'm not pressuring you. I know you have major runnning goals that probably wouldn't be very compatible with this. Just a fun idea we could maybe do with our families. Although, I bet Ang & I would also try some road races too and the families could all hang out.