Monday, June 23, 2008

0 Run 3, Week 2 (BOHR): Getting Faster!



Start Time: 8:22 am (5 1/2-minute warm-up walk began at 8:17 am)
Temperature: 70 degrees (Fahrenheit)
Humidity: 77%
Distance: 2.96 mi (4 laps around lake)
Time: 32:36 min (approximate time; I didn't stop the timer until about 8 seconds after finishing the run)
Pace: 11:00:48 minute-mile

This weekend's race has done wonders for my running confidence. I might have started out grumbling & feeling badly about myself, but nonetheless, ended up surprising myself with my race pace & then feeling pretty good about myself & my performance. By performance, I not only mean my pace data & other such metrics, but also the accomplishment of running/completing my first "real" race in a long time!) And that had a waterfall effect on my run this morning; I decided that, now that I knew I was capable of running faster, that I was going to really go for it today!

And, with that outlook, what a surprise, I ran faster! ;-) This is a positive example of an inner realization becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe I should try to have more of those. ;-)

I'm also noticing that my body is looking leaner, especially my legs. And this obvservation has only been over the last two weeks. Wow. If ever a person wanted to believe in the awesome transformative powers of running, all you have to do is look at me. I am living, walking (er, running!) proof of what running can do for a person. Of course, it's not all about the "magical wonders." It doesn't happen by itself: It's me who's actively putting in the effort & dedication. And it's about being passionate about doing something that I love.

Of course, the transformation isn't just physical or superficial. There's lots going on on the inside as well. And that's just as important.


On a completely different subject, I'm beginning to recognize several "familiar strangers" around the lake during my morning runs. There are several middle-aged & elderly men & women, some who walk together & others who walk alone, whom I've seen several times around the lake. Then, there's also a young guy who always seems to be walking around the lake with his daughter. There's also a handful of men & women around my age or slightly older, who regularly run around the lake.

We've begun to smile at each other with that easy & relaxed kind of recognition that comes with the territory of "familiar stranger."

Today, I took it a bit further with some small pleasantries. I exchanged "Good mornings" with a middle-aged couple walking around the lake, whom I've pretty much seen every morning I've run there.

Then there's a bearded fellow with somewhat wild, curly brown hair with specks of grey -- I estimate he's probably in his late 40's to mid-50's -- who regularly runs around the lake. Wow, is he in good shape! He runs several laps at a fairly good clip. Of course, he laps me several times! ;-) Today he tossed off his shirt half-way through his run -- there were muscles everywhere! -- and I have to say that if I look that good at his age, I will be very happy indeed. ;-) He usually runs alone, but today was running with a new running partner, a much younger fellow who was tall & thin. Today, I made a point of smiling & saying "Hello" & "Good morning" to both of them, to which they replied in kind. On my next pass-by, I ran past the new fellow, who'd stopped to walk, & was looking exhausted & a tad bit discouraged. I cheered him on with a "You can do it!" to which he replied, "It's my first day running." And I said, "That's OK, just take it at your own pace." The third time around I passed the bearded fellow, & asked him, "What happened to your running buddy?" His rather vehement reply was, "He pooped out!" Apparently, his much younger buddy never resumed running after I'd passed him on the end of first lap or so. Judging by the facial expression of the bearded runner upon his response to that question, it doesn't seem likely that I'll be seeing the two of them running around the lake together in future! ;-) (In all fairness, it's a tad bit unrealistic to expect a brand new runner to keep pace with a seasoned one, whatever the age difference might be!)

I also said hello to a "new" lady running with her daughters, who didn't reply. She looked very preoccupied with keeping her brood together, so I don't think she even heard me. I didn't take it personally; if I see her there again, I'll probably give her another chance & extend the courtesy again. She gets one more chance to redeem herself. ;-) If she doesn't say anything a second time, then I'm not going to bother.

(OK, don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily going to start saying hello to complete strangers in the City -- The significance of the "Don't-talk-to-strangers" refrain that we learn from our parents as small children is still generally considered to be good advice & is an excellent protective measure! However, I'm just going to test the waters with the "familiar strangers" crowd, as a little social experiment, & see how it goes. ;-) )

Even though I'm a city dweller & am used to people being unfriendly & not saying hello (i.e., in the City, people usually think you're a nut job if you say "hello" & they don't know you), I figure that I'd start a new trend & actually try smiling at people and sprinkling in a "hello" or "good morning" here & there, if only to exchange some basic pleasantries with some of those familiar faces around the lake. ;-) It's certainly would be a nice change from the usual act that the majority of people here generally follow, intentionally ignoring each other in complete numb silence. People are so Pavlovian about the disconnection; it's weird how over time, we become entirely inured to other people. The learned response eventually becomes an ingrained one, supplanting the original, natural response, & it actually becomes more of a typical response not to respond to people. But again, this response is learned. What can be learned can, of course, also be unlearned.

Exchanging pleasantries often seems to be a lost art amongst city dwellers. Unfortunately, rudeness & lack of acknowledgment or caring about others, even amongst city dwellers who know each other(!), seems to be more of the order of the day. If you acted that way in a small town or in a community where people know you, you'd be an instant outcast. But here, it seems to be normal, which is rather sad, if you ask me. I don't know about you, but I can't exist in a space where I feel ignored, insignificant, disrespected, or where people don't give two you-know-whats about anyone else other than themselves. I've been a city-dweller for many years, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't like cold environments. Wherever I am, I always manage to find other like-minded people -- friendly, warm, considerate people, i.e., people who give a crap! It really annoys me when people think it's "OK" to be uncivil & less than human.

I don't mind being the first one to break the mold & say hello or smile. People generally like to be smiled at & acknowledged; even the grumpy ones will often perk up when you smile at them. Think of how you felt when someone smiled at you, for no reason at all. Did you somehow feel better, just from that simple interaction? I bet it visibly improved your temperament. Of course, the converse of this is that no one likes to extend a pleasantry & not get any sort of response, but I figure that, in this particular case -- i.e., the "familiar stranger" scenario -- it was worth risking it. ;-)

Ever seen the movie, Pay It Forward? Being the first to smile & say "hello" is just a start, but you'd be surprised how powerful a simple gesture like this can be.

Do me a favor. Just try it. Smile at just one person today, & see what happens. See, just by doing something small like smiling at someone, you can have a positive effect on people!

No, I haven't suddenly morphed into some kind of cornball. But seriously, we often forget that something as simple as a smile can inject a bit more positivity & happiness into the world. And we all could certainly use more of that kind of energy.

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