Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Run, Anne, run

Two months ago, when Kevin and I planned out our training schedule for the spring and summer, it all looked very neat and tidy—long run on Wednesday, long bike on Sunday, spinning class 3 days a week, shorter runs 4 days a week… But I think we’ve only actually done it that way once (minus the long bike, because it’s still not quite warm enough for us to bike outside, although the hardcore cyclists have been outside almost all winter). This week is no exception—they’re predicting rain (and possibly thunder) this afternoon, so we decided to run long yesterday afternoon instead. Sort of. We packed all our stuff as though we were going to do the long run (running clothes & shoes, of course, plus water belts with holsters for small water bottles, Clif bars, Sharkies (a gummy bear-like energy snack), GPS devices and headlights… we’re so sporty looking, with our water belts and headlights...), but even as we set out from work at 5, we weren’t sure we were going to run the whole 15 miles. Usually, that’s a sure-fire way to opt out partway through, but by some miracle we did the whole thing yesterday.

We started out on the orphan piece of rails-to-trials path near campus (it’s a whole mile long!), then ran on the roads till we could rejoin another part of the trail. Last week, we followed the route of the railroad through the rubble and gravel and overgrown bushes… and burnt out cars and abandoned shopping carts and old tires… but it was later and darker and I always worry we’re going to stumble onto something we shouldn’t when we do that (or just stumble, although that wouldn’t actually have been so bad in this case, since there were 2 of us, and even though it felt like some kind of abandoned post-apocalyptic world, we were actually only a couple of dozen yards from civilization). So this time we stuck to the road, till it rejoined the trail, ran out and back for a ways on the trail, then home on the streets.

I amused myself for miles a time by calculating the relationship between the distance we’d run already and what we still had to run—so, for example, at 1 mile I thought: ok, we just need to do that 14 more times (that one’s not very comforting!); and at 5 miles: ok, we just need to do that twice more (that one’s a little better); and at 9 miles: ok, we just need to do 2/3 of that again… You get a little stupid after about an hour, so this kind of thinking gets harder, and more entertaining. I once realized I’d been singing a partial line from Yankee Doodle (possibly, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni”) to myself for 30 minutes as I ran and was only disappointed that I’d noticed what I was doing and would now need to get my brain stuck on something else. I try my hardest to think about knitting designs, but without the ability to write little notes and sketches (and maybe as I get more and more stupid?), it’s too hard to keep track of.

What’s funny about running (and knitting, for that matter), is that the first bit and the last bit are the hardest and longest. People talk about how they run for 20 or 30 minutes at a time and hate it and can’t imagine running for hours—and don’t believe it when I tell them that the first 20 minutes suck, no matter how far you’re going. Your muscles are tight, you’re breathing weird, your shoes feel funny, you don’t have the right needles, the stitch pattern makes no sense and you might have the gauge wrong (swatches lie) and have to rip it out anyway. Then there’s a whole section in the middle where it’s fine—you’ve relaxed a little, you’ve remembered how to breathe, you’ve found the right needles and knit enough to measure the actual piece, and you can read the stitch pattern in what you’ve knitted so far and don’t need to check the directions as often. Then the end drags—days pass and somehow you’re only a tenth of a mile further than when you checked the last time, maybe Kevin will run home and get the car while you wait here?, you knit for days and somehow the sleeve actually seems shorter, maybe Kevin would like a vest instead of a sweater? Maybe a cropped, backless vest?

So today, I’m feeling very accomplished, and also very tired. It does mean I’ll get to go to the SnB meeting tonight, where I really need to make some progress on the shawl for Schaefer Yarns. I promised to send it to them in time for a photo shoot on April 16, and while the knitting will be done in time, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to block it. Before I moved here, I blocked on my sofa and my carpeted floor, and in a pinch, in my bed. But the floor here is finished concrete, the couch is leather, and the bed is a loft (also, Kevin might not want to sleep on the couch when the shawl isn’t quite dry at bedtime). I may need to get some of those interlocking foam tiles—they’re not attractive (an important consideration since there’s no where to set them up that’s out of the way), but at least they’re collapsible when not in use.

I found 4 lovely skeins of Anne (Schaefer Yarns’ sock yarn) waiting for me when we got abck from the run yesterday. It’s mostly payment for knitting, although there’s some extra for a design for them. They’re gorgeous—Anne doesn’t come in the usual Schaefer colorways, so I can’t link, but I’ll try to take pictures tonight. What a great reward for all that running!


Annie said...

Okay, I'm green with envy over the Anne sock yarn. Is any of it green? Maybe I'm developing a psychic connection.

Also, I liked the post-apocalyptic image. Years ago I started thinking of this pot-holed parking lot behind my building as war-torn Beirut. The name has gotten so institutionalized in my family that my dad asked me the other day as we were leaving Borders, 'Beirut is really looking better these days. Do you think it'll be safe for your mom to cross it alone after dark?'

I can only imagine what listeners might have thought of us.

Debby said...

Hi! I'm new to your site. I love the Schaefer Anne yarn too. I just finished a shawl with the "Little Mermaid" colorway (pastels) and am really happy with how it came out.

You mentioned riding your bikes for marathon training. I'm hoping to ride a century (100 mile bike ride) by the end of the summer, so I know a little bit about trying to get outside and ride/run when it is still cold out. It is really frustrating and will hopefully get warmer soon here too!

Greeley said...

Hi! I found you from debby's blog. I really like your "get past the first 20 minutes" message--so true!


Sunflowerfairy said...

Hypothetically you could block it at my house. I have blocking wires and pins- and plenty of room. I've never been able to find those blocks- I've looked everywhere. Let me know if you find them.