Tuesday, March 25, 2014

After my SECOND run

I went running for the first time on Saturday, and when I got home Monday I had a strange desire to go running again. I had planned on running Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so I would have had one more day, in theory, before my next scheduled run.

Honestly, I didn't feel all that great on Sunday. My muscles ached, things hurt that have never hurt before, and I discovered butt muscles I didn't know I had. I wasn't exactly looking forward to Tuesday on Sunday. But, somehow, I wanted to go running.

My wife has been very supportive. I asked her to go to Target and get some Champion C9 shorts, and she came home with two pairs, two shirts and a tank top. Maybe it is her supportive attitude, but for some reason I just wanted to run on Monday.

Fear may have been a motivation. I didn't feel that great on Sunday, and I didn't want to stop running. So, I donned the running tee and shorts my wife bought me, put on the shoes she had brought home for me, and went out the door.

Two applications were monitoring me on my phone as I planned. Runtastic stopped at one point and I had to start it back up, and on the return leg Runkeeper announced that my task was complete and I couldn't continue it. The thinner material seems to allow the phone to interact with my leg and I probably shut off the apps while running. Oh well, time to get an arm band.

Fatigue set in differently this time. I ran a bit further, which probably meant I ran too fast for my own good. "Train, not strain" is what I read, but I am still learning. On the way back, I felt that the going was harder, and I leaned heavily on the motivation of Runkeeper's interval announcements. When Runkeeper stopped, well, keeping for me, it was a hard blow.

Nevertheless, I ran for what I thought might be 60 seconds (which goes VERY quickly) and walked for a brief span, then repeated. It was hard, struggling up the slope on the way home, and I thought to myself, "Why oh why did I pick a route that has me running uphill on the way home?!?"

Annoyingly, Runtastic recorded exactly NOTHING for my run. Runkeeper kept my partial workout, so I have no idea how well I did. I suppose it doesn't matter - I'm just going to go running again on Wednesday.

Oddly, I do not feel the pain today (after two runs) the way I did the day after my first run. Hm.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

After my first run

So I went for my first run. I'm not getting younger, and running seems accessible to me. Some friend pointed me to Couch to 5K, so I'm following that plan. Here are some reactions after my first run.

Pants: I need better pants. Running in the shorts I wear casually will do for now, but it seems there would be a better solution. I will look into that.

Shoes: Boy am I glad Cathy bought me a pair of running shoes! My regular tennis shoes (are they actually for playing tennis?) would have felt very heavy.

Apps: So far I like RunKeeper. I found it fairly easy to replicate my Week 1 routine for Couch To 5K. The prompts for the intervals during the run were very, very helpful. I also used Runtastic Pro, but I have no reactions on that yet. Next time I run, I'll still use both, but I'll keep Runtastic Pro up front to see how it works. Based on today, however, I'm still going to use RunKeeper's intervals, and likely get the subscription. For some reason, Runtastic posted to Facebook but I missed that in RunKeeper. Hm...

Pockets: What do other people do with their phones and water? My phone was bouncing around in my pants the entire run. I left the water bottle behind and just drank as much as I could before doing the warmup walk. That might explain those armband phone holders I see for sale, but what about water?

The Run: At the beginning of the run, I was preoccupied with keeping track of my running intervals. RunKeeper took care of that, and I found it possible to just focus on running. I say focused because I concerned myself with my posture, with trying not to run too fast, and my footfalls. Many times I found myself thinking I would fail the "Talk Test" and tried to slow down a tiny bit. My run became 60 second and 90 second experiences, and it started without incident.

I had set an alarm for 10 minutes so I would know when to turn around. When that turn-around alarm went off, I finished the running interval and started walking back. Suddenly, the distractions of the app, the intervals, and dodging power poles gave way to a sense of joy. A smile took over and I thought to myself, "I can actually do this!" It was briefly euphoric, and the possibility of running as a lifestyle choice seemed real.

RunKeeper brought me back down to earth by announcing that my next running interval was upon me, and a mild fatigue creeped up behind me and chased me the rest of the way home. My joy was now tempered by the reality that running is going to take effort and time. On the way back, every time I heard that next interval of a one-minute run, I sighed and picked up the pace.

I got close to home when the apps announced that I had finished my workout. I walked briskly from the street to the our rig and paced around a bit to let my breathing return close to normal, and called it my first step in the journey.

How I feel now: I feel a little accomplishment, but I also feel like nothing changed. I sense a bit of reaction from some of my muscles, which surprisingly is not limited to my legs. I read somewhere it is better to warm up instead of cold stretches before a run, but I'll need to look into that some more.

I've decided on running Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. That seems reasonable, even though I have no reason to select those days. I saw the other runners, so I may look into a better time of day to run, or a better location. Perhaps there are no runners living around here but that seems unlikely.

So that's it. My first run!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Some Thoughts On Other People's Children

Cathy and I do not have children. I do affectionately refer to my cats and dog as our "furkids", but there is no denying that I will never understand the joys or heartaches of having offspring of our own.

To say that I have made my peace with it would be to imply a loss I do not experience. Some feel that childlessness is a state to be pitied; however, as I have no existential reference point, I simply do not feel any sense of deprivation or loss.

As is normal, we have plenty of friends with children. I can think of several such friends that would, should I envy the prospect of parenthood, cause me to be both immeasurably happy for them and deeply disturbed by my own lack of parity. Some friends make parenthood look (almost) easy, but I believe that is simply a lack of perspective on my part.

The cries of neither the tribulations nor the triumphs of our offspring will be heard in our home. Instead, Cathy and I experience slivers of parental joy by offering to watch the kids while our friends actually have a date night, or perhaps attend a function or work late or some other important reason.

Some joy can be derived vicariously from being a parental stand-in. We even have friends who are trusting enough, or perhaps possessing the required senses of humor, to allow me participation in the changing of diapers, getting kids bathed and teeth brushed before bed, and other less-than-glamorous activities. Bedtime stories were a joyful discovery; I actually enjoy reading bedtime stories to children. As I have the luxury of being the non-parent, I suspect I receive a little bit of leniency and good behavior from the children, and I reciprocate by being slightly less stern as their parents would in the course of an average day.

From time to time, the apparent lack of children in our lives comes up in conversation. This is a natural phenomena, and all of our acquaintances go through this process. Once biological children are ruled out, the option of adoption is usually suggested, along with observations about our obvious fitness to be extraordinary parents.

Generous, optimistic projections of how our potentially adopted children would change the world aside, I do not believe I would make a great father. Sure, no father is perfect, but make many sacrifices to have children and to guide them to adulthood. I do not think I could be half the dad my own father was, and at 40, I simply have never faced the need to deprive myself in the ways I think a child would deserve.

Rushing to my defense, our friend point out how we provided for Cathy's mom for over a decade, or how we have sent (a not-insignificant amount of) money to my mother to support her since my father's death. Duty, love and obligation are entwined in my mind regarding patently. Children require sacrifice. Sacrifice is not something I am accustomed to making, and though I would learn, parenthood is not a state of affairs I find myself in nor desiring to enter into.

Biological imperatives, often couched in the creation mandate, do not sway me to have children. If the command to be fruitful and multiply has not yet been met, then I am a monkey's uncle. That said, I do think that it is normal and desirable for a society to have a steady state of population. Nonetheless, I so not think every couple needs to have children, nor do I think that it is a requirement of a marriage. Children need parents, but married people do not have to be parents.

Children are a gift, and when would-be parents spurn that gift, adoption is a beautiful solution to an intractable state of affairs. Parenthood should, from my limited and experience-free perspective, reflect the way God treats all His children. That is a task too high for me, and as we cannot have biological children of our own as a couple, I assume that God has something else in mind for us. Adoption may not be it, either.

We have friends who have adopted, and acquaintances who have done so as well. Some adopt to fill a need of the world, for they have more room in their hearts to welcome children without a home of their own. Others have adopted to fill a need of their own, and just as eating and sleeping are needs, some rightfully need to be parents, and there may be some beauty when children need parents who need them as well.

Adoption, as a notion, gives me the tingles. To understand why I get that tingly feeling, you'd have to hear my thoughts on human depravity and redemption, and perhaps be a little surprised of how little I think of myself. But I'll try briefly...

The very thought of God adopting us, to make the untouchable cherished, to truly redeem something not merely useless but repulsive, is (in a word) just AWESOME. God's love fills me with wonder and it terrifies me. That is what adoption means to me.

Adoption is (should be?) deliberated parenthood. I doubt most natural parents have any idea what they are really getting into with their first child, but good parents are deliberate in undertaking the task. I like to think we know some good parents, who perhaps upon reading this would not think of themselves but should, for they demonstrate God to their children regularly. God's example should inform everything from discipline to recreation, but I remain the opinionated man without children.

Cathy and I neither need children nor feel "called" to parenthood. What I had believed I felt was a calling to be pastor, a cash-poor one at that, and being childless made sense back then. Now I do not know why, but I am comfortable with it. Should we ever have children, it would be a task requiring much grace from a loving God who is willing to give it, so while I would find the prospect awesome, it would be a great privilege and adventure.