This is the time of year when all I want to do is climb into my bed, pull the covers up, and not come out again until all of this holiday nonsense is done.
Some of this stems from my own tendency toward depression, which seems to be an unofficial theme on the AMR blog this week. It’s not something I talk about much, mostly because depression, while crippling, is also profoundly boring. There are only so many ways to express the bleak emptiness, you know? While Morrissey made a great career of it, I lack his stamina. And incredible bone structure.
It’s also something I don’t talk about much because running and all of the attendant life changes that have come with it have really taken the edge off. Mostly, the black dog only pokes his nose in every now and again, just to see if I have any snacks for him. Mostly, I don’t.
Except around the end-of-year holidays. The perma-dark that settles in during November doesn’t help, mind. But what really makes me want to take to my bed are the obligatory events that I have to schlep myself and my kids to, which get piled on to the obligatory festivities that I’m responsible for arranging, which then get piled on to all of the actual work that I have to get done before everyone scampers out of their respective offices for the holiday.
But even that’s not so bad, really. I’m good at scheduling and stage managing — and I know that the kids appreciate it, even if they don’t articulate it. No, what gets me are the obligatory emotions that I’m supposed to feel. I can’t muster any real … anything … about this time of year. About the best I can do is feel faint uplift when I see the outdoor lights that make the dark mornings and afternoons a little less so.
In short, I’m not the one you ought to go to for any holly or jolly. My belly, however, does jiggle like a bowl full of jelly so I have that working for me. I also have been through this particular low spot enough times to know that it will pass.
It helps, too, that my running seems to be working for me, even if the season isn’t. While we had one super cold week in November, the rest of that month through now has been unsettlingly warm. Until the other shoe drops, which I have zero doubt that it will, I’ve set out most mornings in a long sleeved top and capris. It’s like a Christmas miracle.
Last week, Coach wanted me to tackle a three mile run with the middle mile at tempo. I did what I usually do, which was take a few moments during the previous 48-hours to mutter to myself that there’s no possible way that I could run a 10:30 mile because I am old and slow. Then I’d promptly remind myself that I can now do lots of things that I didn’t think I could do and to put on my big girl Balegas and get over myself already. Everyone has these sorts of internal conversations, right?
Not only did I manage to bust out a tempo-mile during the early, fog-drenched dark, that tempo mile only took 9:54 and is, to date, the only time I’ve run a sub-ten minute mile. Admittedly, I couldn’t have kept that up for even another half-lap around the track but that feeling of being a total badass will certainly get me though any number of less invigorating runs.
Like my weekend ten miler with the middle five at race pace. The first four miles were great. After mile 4, I slowed down to Gu (Big Apple, for those scoring at home) and never could get my pace all the way back to my assigned 11:22 RP. Through sheer force of will I wrangled the last three in the under-12 range but it built a lot of stubbornness and not a small amount of swearing. By the time I made it home, I was just a husk of a mother runner, one who desperately needed a shower and a nap.
I did get the shower, at least, because the Teen equally desperately needed to go to our local (very tiny) mall, right at the time when it would be the most crowded with holiday shoppers. In hindsight, skipping the shower might have given us more room to maneuver in the stores. I’ll make a note. I never did get my nap, however.
Speaking of said Teen, one of my most favorite parts of my early morning runs (and is one of the reasons why the running has been feeling great despite my inability to embrace the season) is that we frequently pass each other on the sidewalk. She’s walking up to the high school and I’m running down from its track. She always sticks her hand out for an intentionally half-hearted hi-five and I always give her one while shouting some kind of corny motherly advice like “make good choices” or “learn lots” as I run past. It's become our little ritual and it’s enough.
Are you feeling the yuletide joy? Or would you like to join me in bed?