I am getting back in the groove of things in one particular area of life.
I used to run. Sort of. I never ran very far or very fast, but I reached a level where I didn’t feel like a fool for saying, “I have to go out for a run,”(versus a jog) or taking up precious suitcase space with my running shoes and clothes.
It is something that I stopping doing upon our aliyah. In addition to the emotional and mental shocks to the system, arriving in the summer had a deleterious effect on my physical being too.
(Read: It was HOT. Hot hot hot. All day. Into the night. Fry your kishkes kind of hot.)
I tried to deal with the heat by getting up progressively earlier to run, until it crossed the line of ridiculousness. I am a morning person, to be sure, but once I was waking up at 4:50 (to leave the house at 5 to be finished at 5:45) was “too late,” I sort of gave up. Because of course then I had to go to ulpan and parent my people all afternoon and learn how to do things like buy yogurt and not cry when other people spoke to me.
A year later we joined a health club. Despite the expense, I had a hard time getting motivated to go run on the treadmill. Frankly, treadmill running is boring. The gym was often crowded. I never felt comfortable.
The health club membership lapsed. The weather remained hot for six months a year. I tried other exercise programs in fits and starts, like jumping rope while watching TV or being tortured by Jillian Michaels. Nothing stuck like running had.
Finally, in the middle of this past winter (that’s “winter” to you North Americans), when the weather was cooler, someone posted on a local facebook group that she wanted to run in a pack on a weekday morning. So I went. Even though she was training for a half marathon (!), she was willing to run at my pace. I didn’t fare too badly. We met once a week for a few weeks, before her race training took her away. But in the meantime I felt like I was gaining strength. Stronger, going for longer distances. I missed running with a person (I am more social than I thought), but just those few weeks had kickstarted me back to the elusive feelings of accomplishment. I reactivated my iTunes account. I signed up for RunKeeper.
Now the weather is turning warmer again. But I am less concerned. I can run in the evening now. Putting a 7 and 9 year old in front of the TV for 30 minutes in the evening, alone at home, is a possibility that I couldn’t have contemplated four summers ago. I can deal with the heat better. I seek the shady side of the street.
But mostly I am more forgiving of myself. If I don’t run 5 kilometers, I run 4. If I don’t run 4 kilometers, I run 3. If I run with the dog, we run two and a half, and then I am grateful that I don’t usually run with her; she’s a terrible pacer. If I don’t run in the morning, all is not lost – I can run in the evening. Or later in the morning. Or 2 kilometers instead of none. It all counts.
I haven’t signed up for any races, so far, but I might. Perhaps in the fall. In the meantime, the Boston Marathon bombings cast a pall over the worldwide running community. Community in the largest sense, because everyone who has put on a pair of running shoes and run even one mile can appreciate the challenge of running 26 IN A ROW ALL AT ONCE. Running is a sport that, if you take away the fancy shoes and high-tech clothes and energy gels and corporate sponsorships, really can reach a wide swath of people. So reading the stories of people who had run in the Boston Marathon that day – and those who had come to watch – was inspiring and touching. I decided late in the day on April 15th, watching Twitter bury network news once and for all, to run a marathon’s worth of distance in two weeks.
It took me an extra day; I finished my 42.2 km on May 1 instead of April 30. It was hot towards the end; I forgave myself. I had a lot of support. There were thousands of us around the world running for Boston. There was a Twitter hashtag and a Facebook group. When solidarity runs cropped up in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, I wanted to go, but they were at inconvenient times. So I made my own run locally; about 25 people came. I ran my own 5K in 33:30, which I haven’t come close to matching in the two weeks since. I’m back to slow and steady, apparently.
I’m going to get through this summer. Running. (I hope.)