I’m a parent. I’m stepped on, pounced on, climbed on and over and hit with hard flying objects. Last night was no exception. My two year old son picked up a blue block, you remember the type, simple and functional for tots, wound up and hurled it into my face.
The blue block whacked my forehead and bounced off with a smart “thwack” sound. I howled in pain as my son looked on in drooling interest. There he sat, all innocence and cuteness. Despite how much my primal side wanted to retaliate, my brain’s executive processes stayed intact. How many times had I done that to my Dad when I was two?
Alas, patience and tolerance in the face of kid-induced pain takes courage and strength. I have both in ample supply.
I’ve been training for an eleven mile obstacle course race. It’s promised to be an event for the brave of heart, tough minded and robustly muscled. British Special Forces guys came up with a new way for the common day athlete to be tested. It caught my attention the first time I heard about it. Seven months ago I gazed over my coworkers shoulder in awe at the Tough Mudder videos on his laptop. This is the real deal I thought. A Special Forces inspired endurance event with physically and psychologically demanding hurdles and obstacles to test the strongest among us. Who wouldn’t want to plunge into a vat of 30 degree ice water, jump from a two story tall platform, and climb monkey bars spanning the length of an A-frame barn roof? My first thought was “where do I sign up?” and then I did so with a lump in my throat.
The race is Saturday, 29 Septermber. My team, Better Wetter, is signed up for Tough Mudder in Seattle. The temperatures will be in the mid-60s and perfect for people traveling from Juneau, Alaska. Training workouts have spanned from intense hiking trail runs up Perseverance trail in Juneau and grueling cardio and plyometric workouts to easy walks in the neighborhood with the dog. The training part was fun. The racing part will be even better. We have a team coming together from Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Our team name is “Better Wetter”, a silly play on the constant rain fall of Southeast Alaska and the condition we’ll be in by the end of the race.
We’ve ordered t-shirts that say “Flash” on the front and have a big bolt of red lightning on the back. I ordered a fake brown mullet and I’m contemplating wearing that sucker for laughs. One of the guys will be wearing his head mounted “Go Pro” camera. We’re sure to get some good pics and video for Good Animal.
I thrive on adventure. I wouldn’t bother otherwise. Who, in their right mind, would want to do such a thing? I would for one. And I paid to do it. This is going to be my kind of adventure weekend.
Running is a primal act. Running with the elements drives me onward. I love discovering my abilities and limitations in running. Lately, running the trails in Alaska is an escape from the mundane and every day. I run in local races too. The camaraderie is second to none. As a community, runners are some of the friendliest people to be around.
Life struggles? Yea, I’ve had a few. Again, running has allowed me to maintain an upbeat mental attitude through most of my life. My Achilles heel emotion, anger, is arrested by running. The miles help make me easy of approach and light-hearted. Running is like rinsing your brain under a cool mountain stream. It clears out all the detritus and cobwebs, realigns priorities and keeps your feet pointed down a path of good living.
Lately I’ve rediscovered my passion for running. After a few years of coping out due to knee pain, I’m returning to the miles as therapy and stress relief. I thought I was finished until my brother recommended I read “Born to Run”. The idea that running is a natural motion humans evolved to do over millions of years resonated with me. In 2010 I resolved to learn how to change my running style and have been working on it ever since.
I now wear Vibram’s minimalist-style toe shoes and love running in them. I can do four miles at a time without pulling or stressing untrained muscles. The training is slow going, as it should be, but I can run again. I’m returning to the Good Animal I once was and will be again.
For those less inclined to run, walking is great and a needed step to run again. Other cardiovascular activities like hiking, cycling, and swimming are also excellent forms of exercise and great for managing emotions. I’ve read that depression (beyond the more severe types) can be treated effectively with consistent exercise, good nutrition, and plenty of positive support and social interactions. The late Dr. George Sheehan wrote four of five solid books about the joys of running, often using great philosophers to support his views.
Best of luck in your walking and running pursuits.