“My life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked, a song that’s spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.” – Maya Angelou
A couple of months ago while writing about running the Shamrock Half Marathon, I made a little fun of myself for how crucial it is for me to have a well laid out plan and often overly detailed lists in order to execute even the simplest of tasks. I demonstrated that fact last week when I forgot to take a dry shirt and change of socks to the park where I was running and ended up being that guy that wanders around shirtless at places where most people don’t.
It was only a few minutes while I ate my sandwich, drank a protein drink, and took a half dozen photographs for my blog. But I’m not generally the kind of guy that feels the need to take his shirt off every time the mercury climbs above 55 degrees, and I didn’t intend to be that day either. I felt more than a little silly. Sorry to all of the innocent victims out that day. But you don’t get to see a farmer tan that nice every day either, so you’re welcome as well.
“I wasn’t losing my focus but I was getting tired of focusing. What I was focusing on was becoming too routine, too ritual, not something that was interesting, new and exciting.” – Picabo Street
This morning I got up just before sunrise and started casually getting my things together to go run. I of course had no real plan and made no lists. I mean, why? It’s not a race or anything. I’ve done this before. I don’t have a schedule to keep. Who cares?
I started toasting a bagel, made my vitamin shake, put athletic tape on my nipples; you know, the usual Saturday morning shit. While drinking my shake and unknowingly putting a really dark brown on that bagel I dug compression undies out of the pile of unfolded laundry on my bed, found a pair of shorts, and pulled a dry-fit shirt out of the closet. You wouldn’t want to go run in the rain without wearing a nice moisture-wicking material.
Did I mention it was raining?
Because I had no list, I was basically just getting ready as if I was going to run directly out of my front door; like I do a few times a week, every week. Once I was ready to do that, I figured all I’d have to do is throw a change of clothes in a bag, drive to the trail, and knock out the last longish run before I try to PR my 10K race next Saturday.
Nothing is ever that simple for my scattered ass though.
“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.” – Ritu Ghatourey
I was taking forever to accomplish the simple tasks of getting dressed and packing a dry bag. And as I was finally throwing towels, my garmin, some dry socks, and a shirt into a bag and starting to pile stuff by the front door, I realized that I hadn’t made my post-run sandwich yet. Shit! I thought I was almost ready to go. Now I have toast bread, cut up a banana, spread peanut butter…oh the tragedy, right? I’m such an impatient dick sometimes.
I’d intended to be running at 7:30 or 8 at the latest. At 7:30, I was standing in my kitchen sprinkling raisins on one half of a sandwich and just shaking my head at how slow I manage to do things that I’ve done so many times before. For a professed creature of habit, I sure do take a long time to develop good ones, like organization.
Oh well. It’s Saturday. It’s raining. I might as well have fun with it.
“As long as you’re having fun, that’s the key. The moment it becomes a grind, it’s over.” – Barry Gibb
I finally got there a little after eight o’clock, and once I’m out there, I’m pretty good about forgetting about the rest of the world. I briefly said hello to a couple of guys who had just finished their morning rain run, did some quick stretches, tried to take a picture of a small beaver clumping across a field, pushed play on my ipod, and took off.
There was a drizzling rain for the first four miles, but it was never really that bad. I had the entire trail to myself and after I turned back to the car, the sun even tried to poke through a couple of times. It was actually pretty nice out. My pacing was comically sporadic, but I felt good the whole time. My right knee has been bothering me a little all week, but rarely during my runs. I was just enjoying my Saturday morning. Who cares if I was running late? At least I was running.
I managed to conserve enough energy to pick up the pace and really charge the last half mile which coincided nicely with the sun finally fighting its way through the clouds. And by the time my watch chirped the eight mile alarm, the sun was reflecting off of the glass-like water and mirroring the bright green of the rain soaked tree limbs hanging out over it. It was a really beautiful way to finish my run. Woohoo!
I actually had every intention of snapping a few photographs before I left. But I was soon distracted again by my own poor planning.
“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.” – William James
As I finished my run, a man and his dog arrived to enjoy a walk together. And just as I was about to change out of my soaking wet clothes, a group of boy scouts showed up for a morning walk among the trees. I decided that parking lot nudity probably wasn’t appropriate at that particular moment. So it seemed a good time to eat my sandwich and enjoy a chocolaty shake instead.
In the few minutes it took for me to enjoy my pre-made treats and start thinking about the other things I had to do later, I was also beginning to discover tiny reminders of things I’d forgotten when getting ready earlier.
First, I had not remembered just how much running in the rain seems to enhance the wonderful art of chafing. But as I stood there, I was being oh so pleasantly reminded that I should have applied some anti chafe balm to at least one more sensitive area. “That’s going to be fun in the shower later,” I thought. (it wasn’t)
Second, while I totally nailed it with dry socks and not one, but two dry shirts, I didn’t bring a change of shorts. Sweet! The pair I ran in were only soaking wet. I wasn’t going to get in the car wearing those. Last week I felt foolish walking around a park shirtless. This week, I was going to have to drive home sans pants. Laughing at myself was my only option.
Fuck it. It’s only a twenty-five minute drive. And if anything is going to make sure someone follows every single traffic law, it’s the desire to avoid explaining to a cop why they’re wearing nothing but a towel. I’ve done way dumber things.
“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty.
I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.” – George Carlin
It’s amazing how quickly perspective can change. While running, I thought my pacing was so all-over-the-place that it would surely be the easiest thing for me to note as a weak spot in my run journal. But in hindsight, it paled in comparison to being reminded how much a few seconds of simple planning can affect my day…and how funny those effects can be.
About five minutes after leaving the park as I was coming to a stop sign, I noticed my second favorite dashboard light had come on; the one shaped like a gas pump. “Awesome! Now I get to stop for gas too.”
Planning is for smart people, not for half naked idiots like me.