>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010
But I'm so definitely not a runner. I always admire people who are runners. Marathons? How is that even humanly possible? Or how about even the people I always see at the gym pounding away on the treadmills? I am astonished by those who run for miles easily, without visible panting or strain.
I always have this feeling that running is sort of the ultimate workout. It's possible I think that because it's so damn hard for me. Even when I'm at my peak mountain climbing fitness and can readily hike 8 miles up and down a 4000 foot high mountain in a day at a good pace, I still am a supremely sucky runner. I gasp, I pant, I stagger, I feel like my lungs are going to explode, and all I can think about is how much I want to be able to justify switching to walking instead. Ugh.
I am, however, on a fitness kick, and I really would like to lose the extra 8 pounds I've packed on this past winter so that my clothes fit again, and so I'm not carrying an extra 8 pounds up and down mountains. Think about that - 8 pounds is the equivalent of a lot of extra gear. I would like to convert myself into a finely tuned physical machine. (Ha!) Oh, how far I have to go.
Running is a quick way to get in a workout when I don't have time for more. Plus, damnit, I'm stubborn, and I want to be at least a tolerable runner who can manage a 5k without humiliation. I'm a long way from that. And, I figure every minute of running I suffer through will cause me to do better in sessions with my trainer at the gym. It's all about saving face.
So, since it's a nice evening, I went for a run when I got home from work.
The Erie Canal path is a great place for a run. Well, let's face it, in my case it's just a jog. The fine gravel of the path is easy on my shins and knees and there's enough wildlife to distract me at least a little. On occasion.
One of the many drawbacks of running along the Erie Canal, though, is that I can't take my camera. And it's always then - when I am without a camera - that I spot the best and most photographable wildlife. Tonight as I staggered, gasped and cursed my way along, I watched dozens of birds of all different varieties. I scared a bunny into zig-zagging down the path ahead of me for a stretch.
Then I heard a faint "plop" from the canal, and as I am always looking for an excuse to stop running for a moment, I paused to investigate. There, swimming a few feet away from me, was a muskrat. I simply adore muskrats, or "scrats" as my husband calls them. They're about as stinking cute as any critter can get. Before we bought our house, our old daily commute took us along Onondaga Lake Parkway, where there are always dozens of muskrats feasting in the lawns and swales along the road. The sight of all those little drippy munchy brown bodies was the highlight of many a day.
Muskrats also often call to mind the time when a student wrote a letter to the editor of my college's newspaper about the "giant rat" that was living in the college's pond. She was appalled, and wanted the administration to "do something" about it. The responsive letter to the editor was hilarious, with some outdoorsy students mocking the city folk who mistook the cute little resident muskrat for a terrifyingly giant rat in need of extermination. I chuckle every time I remember that little exchange.
Today, after my friend the muskrat swam across the canal and wandered up the other bank and disappeared, I went back to my grudging jog. While he didn't make the jog any less painful, at least he provided a bright spot in my evening.