Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Name is Tyler and I'm a Runaholic

Okay, so maybe running sadist is a better term for it. Either way, I’m addicted to running.

I realized this more deeply this morning after I woke up at 8:00 because Hadley was singing and kicking in her crib. I’m convinced she was giving me the chance to feed her before she started crying and woke the older two up. (I’ve got to remember to thank her for that when she wakes up again in about half an hour. It’s now 9:33.) My watch alarm (on my Garmin Forerunner 50: just wanted you to know that, yes, I have a running watch—complete with heartrate monitor and footpod—and a fairly expensive though lightweight and non-intrusive one, all thanks to my wonderfully giving wife!) went off at 7:00 so I could be out running by 7:20, but I turned it off and held it in my hand with the full intention of sliding out of bed, visiting the john, putting on my running clothes, and going for an easy six; but I fell asleep instead and didn’t wake up until Hadley decided it was time.

After making her a bottle and feeding her, all the while hoping that Sidney and Alex would stay asleep—which, by some miracle, they still are—I fought with myself as I put on my shorts…

“I don’t want to go running this morning.”

“So don’t; it won’t kill you to take the day off. Make it a rest week.” (I only ran three days this week as opposed to my usual four; maybe I should make it five…who knows.)

…and slipped on my heartrate monitor…

“I really just want to go back to bed.”

“So do it. No one will fault you for being a little lazy this morning. Besides it’s the weekend.”

…and my shirt, socks, and shoes...

“I think I’m burned out. I need to do something different today.”

“Ride your bike. It’s exercise and you haven’t taken it for a spin since before winter.”

…took a drink of water, walked out the door, started my watch timer, and ran up the street.

Besides not presenting a very convincing argument against running—either that or I’m too stubborn and addicted to hear reason—I couldn’t see myself skipping this morning’s session. Call it discipline or insanity or addiction, whatever you want. But I can’t see myself not running. From the day my best friend (Jeremy Draper) and I decided that instead of playing junior high baseball (he’d tried out and didn’t make the cut), we’d go out for track, I haven’t been the same. Soon thereafter my now brother-in-law Jeff convinced us to train with the high school cross country team. Since we were already running, it wasn’t that much of jump to follow him into the locker room for the first time. Besides, some of the best runners on the junior high team were training at the high school. Maybe doing the same would help us rise to the top.

Looking back, I can’t see my life sans running. Some of my best friendships were forged on the run, the ones that carried through high school, through pre- and immediately post-mission times, and even into my first year of college. Running has taught me a lot about life, a lot about myself, a lot about suffering (all self imposed) and enduring pain.

And so I run, not always because I want to—though I usually do—but because I have to. It’s a part of me, my escape from the stress of at-home dadness, my muse, my demon; and it’s not something I’m willing to part with, at least for now. Maybe when my knees finally give out I’ll quit. But my wife may have pry the running shoes off of my feet and tie me to the bed because when my Garmin alarm goes at 5:00 the next morning, I’ll be out the door and up the street before my body remembers the pain and I fall into the gutter where I’ll lie until the autumn leaves or the snow or the run-off water bury me and I fade into the next life where the clouds will lessen the impact on my legs and I’ll be able to run the trails of eternity.

Either that or I’ll crawl home and back into bed where she’ll never know I was gone and the only indication that I’ve given up the run will be the stream of tears (mostly tears of pain) trailing down the street, through the kitchen, up the stairs, and into my Ibuprofen induced dreams.