Greetings from the odd week between the mayhem of Christmas and the mayhem of New Year. This week is like your connecting airport: the excitement of taking off has passed but you haven’t yet arrived at your final destination. Instead, you are just wandering through the gates, looking at high-price trail mix and hand lotion, while you wait for your boarding zone to be called.
If you still have small children, you’re negotiating this while dragging a crabby human through the concourse. I haven’t really seen my older kids in this extended airport metaphor. I assume they’ll happen along when they need money for a frozen yogurt. If they miss the flight, that’s on them. They know how watches work.
It’s a challenge to get any real running done during these seven days, much less eat anything other than carbs in cookie, candy, or cake form. That’s what this week is for, really. Now is when we can revel in sloth and gluttony — then remember how crappy we feel after doing it for a few days. But you do have to give it a whirl every now and again, just to make sure that is still true.
This year, I’ve done okay with getting actual produce into my body every now and again. What’s fallen apart is the running. Most years, we spend this week with friends of ours in the Poconos. The time is devoted to board games, skiing, and lazing around. I’m typing this from one of the back bedrooms, where I’ve holed up for a little bit to get some work done. Later on, we’ll make our combined offspring, who are now old enough to be useful, cook homemade pizza. It’s not a terrible way to spend this routine-less week.
For running, however, it’s been sub-spectacular. The bed and my upper back keep finding new ways to fight during the night so I’m stiff before I even get my sports bra on. We haven’t stayed in this particular part of the region before, so I have to spend more time orienteering while on the move.
Also: I’ve run a lot this year and my enthusiasm is waning. It’ll be back — it always does — but leveraging myself out of the sofa and into the streets is an undertaking.
Still, these are minor complaints. And, durn it, I almost always feel better after I’ve gone out for a run, even if the run itself was mostly meh.
Like my easy three miler on Friday. It was absolutely adequate. I ran very slowly down hills and up hills and near the lake. I picked out houses to live in, should my husband and I ever lose our minds and buy a lake house. It’s not a thing we’ll do — our actual house is enough work, thanks — but it’s fun to dream.
My weekend long run called for nine miles, with two rounds of 1.5 miles at race pace and a .5 mile recovery. I’d scouted a route on my route on my run the day before, figured I’d just do that three times, and set out.
Reader: the running gods laughed.
I gave up on hitting any race pace miles after my warm-up mile. Neither body nor brain was willing. I also gave up on my plan to just do the same loop three times when I ran past one of the golf courses. Those cart paths are empty, I thought to myself. It’s super scenic back there, even in the winter. There aren’t any golfers so it will be quiet. So I took a hard left onto the front nine.
I’ve run on the occasional golf course before. Most of the time, the cart paths peter out or loop you back relatively quickly. Clearly, I’ve only run on rinky-dink courses before because the paths just kept going. And going. And going. Then I was seven miles in and realized that that whole “looping around” thing had yet to happen.
Shortly after than realization, I re-discovered that google maps doesn’t have extensive knowledge of cart paths. I did discover that I was right near the interstate and water treatment plant, which weren’t at all near where I actually needed to be. I also discovered that I’d been running steadily downhill, which meant that getting back would require a climb.
So I ran (well, power walked) the paths that went up and eventually hit familiar ground. I stopped Herr Garmin after mile nine and just keep plowing on. At hour two, I texted my husband to let him know I hadn’t been eaten by bears and that all was well. Because it was, really. I had water. It wasn’t hot. I felt physically fine, if a little foolish. There was nothing pressing that I needed to be back for because we had the privilege to have this placeholder of a week off.
I made it back alive, clearly, if a little later than anticipated. I refueled with a cookie or two, and leaned back into the sloth.
Have you run (or gotten lost) on a golf course?