Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Colder today than yesterday. I can tell this by the ice on the roofs, on the grass, on the cars, and by the way the front door regretfully unsticks when I open it. The house does not want to let anything warm go out.

Wore the gloves this morning. And the taller socks, longer sleeves, boxer briefs, and, of course, the ear warmers. Ran fast again and didn't even notice it. Might've had another record day, if I hadn't wasted all that time waiting at the traffic signal.

People complain because it's easy to complain, and I'm no different. Complaining is the lesser path of life, as opposed to being cheerful, which is for many an uphill climb in the face of it all. But if you get up pre-dawn on a frigid January morning to go out and run three miles before your day of jackhammering at work, you deserve to do a bit of complaining. It's exercise, after all, and not exactly the "lesser path." So if you take on a decent challenge in life, I say a bit of complaining is your reward. Just try and be funny about it. It's the unfunny complainers who opt for the easy everything in life, that I can't stand.

Which is one of the reasons I love my wife, who seemed a trifle impressed that I was out the door running this morning. And later, when we spoke of the rainy race-day plans, she said half-kiddingly, "Sounds fun!" She was half-kidding. I won't explain it.

"Why do you do it?" people ask incredulously, after a long run. And they are incredulous because it sounds crazy to them, because you've been complaining, and because just a little bit of contempt might bring you down off your high horse for being so proud of yourself. But I run because it's there, because it's a challenge, and because it's healthy. I actually want to live longer, and I want to see this whole life through to the end. I had children later in life than I wish I had, and now I want to make up for it.

And I run because I can. Because it's the only sport I know. Because I have this good body that I can make better. And by "better" I mean that post-run feeling of optimism and accomplishment that lasts me six hours or so. Yes, only about six hours, but optimism that lasts six hours changes my world.

And I run because having that blood rush through my body and up to my brain helps me think better, arouses my senses, and charges my memory. Because I'm getting old, and these things are more important than ever. I got up early and missed out on some sleep, but I will sleep better tonight as a result. This morning I saw the good work of my lungs with every exhalation, and I saw the sun coming up through my breath. I felt powerful and alive, and I felt the earth spinning on its axis beneath my feet, as if I was working some cosmic treadmill. I spent thirty minutes out there, wearing the rubber off the soles of my feet, and every few minutes I'd pass another runner or walker and we would nod and smile, as we always do. Smiling at the beauty of it all, and nodding at the truth: Yes, it is. You know, and I know.

Exercise is not easy. Running is not easy. And nothing that makes you better is easy. It all takes guts -because you're gonna look stupid, hurt yourself, and eventually and inevitably fail doing it. But I feel better for being brave, at least in some small way. At least a little stronger every day.

I thought I'd deleted all the Christmas songs from my iPod but Winter Wonderland came on this morning, which made me laugh out there on the cold, icy, Oceanside streets. It's actually not a "Christmas" song, per se. If you listen to the words, Christmas is not even mentioned. I guess it's more of a happy little winter song, for what it's worth. Anyway, I like that line toward the end, there:

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire,
To face unafraid,
All the plans that we made.