Some running lessons I can’t seem to learn. Like, you’d think I’d know by now that the hardest part is just getting out of the door. Or that mid-run math is always wrong. Or that 99% of people don’t want to hear about your marathon. And yet here we are.
I’ve spent the last few weeks convinced the infernal changes of perimenopause have destroyed what little zip my running legs had left. The years caught up to me, I thought. For the rest of my days, I’ll feel like the whole world is molasses I’m struggling through, with a Gu in one hand and water in the other. Woe, I moaned, is me.
Of course I practiced all of the positive self-talk I’ve learned: I get to run. Even if my pace is glacial, I’m moving faster than every single person sitting on the couch. My body can move freely, which is a state denied so many.
It helped to think of the bright sides rather than the gloomy ones. But you know what made the biggest change? Living in northeastern U.S. and moving into mid-September.
You’d think I’m new to the concept of seasons. You’d be wrong. What I am is forgetful.
Every late August I’m convinced I’m falling apart. Every mid-September I realize I’m just too hot to function. Not like Paris Hilton hot, mind. But like air so thick you can chew it hot.
Add to my general hotness the heapin’ helping of August transitions. This year, my husband and I are now empty nesting, which is neither good nor bad but is incredibly weird. I can’t shake the feeling I’m forgetting something important. I also can’t seem to grocery shop for only two. On the plus side, I don’t have to figure out how to get four people from Points A to Points B, C, and D with only two cars, three drivers, and zero useful bus routes. which is the most irritating word problem ever.
As if all of the transitions and the hot weren’t enough to put a hitch in my get-a-long, August is when work picks up at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY, which is where I work as a historic interpreter in textiles. The number of visitors grows exponentially from May to August. While it’s great to be busy, all of the talking can wear you down, especially when you are wearing a bunch of petticoats and a long dress in summer weather.
Me at my day job. I’m in the blue dress.
The busy season keeps me from going much of anywhere in August. I wind up running the same routes over and over and over again, just because I know down to the foot how many miles each one is. The scenery doesn’t change in August — and by the end of the month, I am sick of seeing all of it.
Rather than remember literally any of that, I galumph into September convinced that I am falling apart. This year, my streak remains unbroken.
Then a week like the one we just had hits. The skies are bluebird bright. The air is crisp. The routine has stabilized. Museum guests are just plentiful enough to keep the day interesting rather than overwhelming. Plus, I can go away for a day or two, even if it’s just to a conference in central New York, where I found a running path I’d never before set foot on. It was bliss.
All of this was new to me. that made all of the difference.
On Saturday morning, I opted to run three miles. Miles one and three would be at whatever pace felt reasonable; mile two would be as quick as I could manage. When I looked at my Coros after the push mile, I was shocked by how quick it was. Then, of course, I remembered this same thing happens every dang year. Once the temperature drops just a little, my feet feel lighter.
To those still struggling through the late-summer slumps, know that the problem likely isn’t you. Ease is on its way, if only for a short visit. Soon it’ll be the holiday season and the ice will come. For now, though, let’s focus on what we have.