Sunday, May 29, 2011

The satisfaction of small things

I'm rather intrigued. After years of believing that I'm a terrible runner, that the activity is loathsome, and that I would never do it unless I forced myself to, I am discovering that probably my biggest problem was running too fast for my endurance level. Having slowed it down and built it up a little, I went on a jog yesterday morning that I later discovered, thanks to the glories of Google Maps, was a four mile round trip. This leads me to believe that my goal of a half marathon is not far-fetched, maybe even next year.
But that's still in the future. Yesterday's jog was my first outdoor run since the triathlon (thanks to the very wet weather Salt Lake has been having), and it was glorious jogging weather. The kind where I was chilly when I started but a very pleasant temperature when I stopped. I looped up along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, past the zoo, and ended at my destination, a little grassy knoll called Donner Park that I often drive by but have never explored. Upon arrival, having just jogged on an uphill slant for half a mile, I rewarded myself by allowing myself to walk along the paths in the park. Coming over the hilly part, I discovered a small playground, hidden from the road, that I hadn't known was there. I love playgrounds because of all the fun memories they bring back. I was such a playground kid- and still am, let's be honest. And when one is by oneself at a park, the best activity is without a doubt the swings.
I hadn't been on a swing in several months, so as I passed the swing set, I found myself veering to the right and taking advantage of the vacantness of the area to pump myself towards the sky. I've always loved swings, and there are some swings that have a special place in my heart. I could write a whole post about that (in fact, I wrote half of it before I realized that it was a huge digression from this post and put it in a Word document for safekeeping). Yesterday morning, fresh off of running two miles, it was wonderful to kick my feet up towards the clouds and realize that I really do love living in Salt Lake City. For now, it's the best place for me to be.
Donner Park is situated at an elevation and location to have a view of a lot of the unique things that make Salt Lake City special. Right behind me was Emigration Canyon, passageway into the mountains and all kinds of glories. Fittingly, of course, if I turned my head, I could also see This is the Place Park, which is not quite a living museum, because the staff do dress up in period clothing from the 1850s, but they don't pretend to actually be people from that time.
Ahead of me spread the whole valley, big and open, with the Great Salt Lake, hard to see because of the overcast day, sprawling behind the downtown skyline. To my left, blocked by a bank of trees, lay Kennecott Copper mine, a huge open mine that is fascinating, beautiful, and hideous, all by turns.
And those mountains- those mountains that I love so much. They are truly beautiful things and I love living in them and learning about them and exploring them. As I ended my swinging, I began to get excited for more opportunities to find new trails, new treasures, and new adventures in my mountains.
I jogged home and stretched in the backyard, where I could inspect and observe our newly-planted garden, and gloat over the rows of carefully planted seed and the tender young tomato and pepper plants. Ah yes, I thought to myself. I am a true botany nerd. How many people take this much pleasure from marking not only the growth of their plants but also the development of their anatomical and physiological features? Not nearly enough.
Hm. I find myself rambling again. Must be time for bed. Other fun and exciting things happened on Saturday, including a bridal shower for my sister Laura, a rousing game of six-square with my family, digging in the dirt and finding worms with my one-year-old nephew, mowing the lawn and accidentally jamming the lawn mower with grass, and sewing half of one of the most unique dress patterns I've ever worked with. But the details would take me too long to type out, so I will just leave you, my readers, with the
knowledge that I had a very enjoyable day, filled with the satisfaction of small things.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

There's no "try" in "triathalon"

Yesterday morning, Emily, Melanie, and I congregated with about a thousand other women at the fitness center in American Fork for their women-only sprint triathlon. After all my careful doube0checking, I did remember all the crucial things to have- swimsuit, bike helmet, running shoes- and most of the nonessentials, too. It was a beautiful sunshiney morning, the one sunny day sandwiched in between all the rainy ones. Perfect triathlon weather.
My goal was to complete the race and to complete it without coming to a complete stop at any point in time. And I succeeded. I didn't love it the whole time, but there's enough of a competitive spark in me that even when I was wondering why I wanted to do this, I was still observing the people around me and making sure I kept pace as much as I could.
A few things stand out in my mind as pivotal in this event. First, the sheer triumph of knowing that I have the strength to do something like a sprint triathlon. I remember being in high school and dealing with Candidas (which has symptoms very similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and having to go home and sleep for long periods of time just to have the energy to get through the remaining school day. Or being a college student and not being able to carry my backpack across campus all the time because of the searing pain behind my ribcage when I wore too much weight.
Yesterday that familiar pain behind my right shoulder blade made an appearance on the run- the final stretch of the race. I was frustrated and annoyed at first, and went from a jog to a walk for a while. But then I realized that the pain hadn't been there for several months, even with the increased activity I've been doing. And then I celebrated- in a sweaty, tired kind of way.
A second thing that made an impact on me was the support of friends and strangers both. No one was at the race to cheer for me- Kerstin was going to come but ended up going to a funeral instead. But she stayed up on Wednesday night and made me a special triathlon support sign for my door, and she texted me on Saturday morning before the race to let me know she was cheering me on. And there were people along the race route who cheered for everyone- some in a rather placid manner, but some with a large dose of ebullience. There were kids who held out their hands on the 5k route to give us five as we ran past. There was one little girl who jumped up and down every time someone ran past calling, "good job! Good job!" And I hope all those people know how much they boosted my spirits along the way. I'm so independent in most of my life that I almost forget just how much I love getting that support and cheering from people. But it always makes a difference.
Lastly, afterward when I was talking energetically with Mel and Em and we made plans to2 do it again, I realized yet again how lucky I've been to find such good friends, who not only have interests like mine but give me opportunities to improve and excel in those interests. We are making plans to go back to Cedar City for some Shakespeare this summer and climb a few mountains and go on a few campouts. And now I am on a new topic- Summer Plans- that could fill a while nother blog post, so I will save that for another day and conclude by saying that I am very glad that I completed my first triathlon and I'm excited to do another one.