The Mental Anatomy of A Lake Run

In preparation for my triathlon (very first– woot!) this Sunday, I have been running. I know this is only a third of what happens at a triathlon, but my bathtub is not deep enough for swim practice and getting all the bike stuff ready and going feels like it takes a long time. For the run I can just go. I don’t even have to tie my shoes now that I have these nifty elastic laces that you can just pull. Do you Remember those springy laces of our youth in the neon colors? Like that, but for adults, marketed to “athletes” who will run, jump, swim, bike, etc. to the end of the earth, but are too lazy to tie their shoes.

So, I just moved to a hip part of town and in this hip part of town it is hip to run the hamster wheel that is “The Lakes.” In truth, I run just one lake, because it is a few blocks there and frankly, I don’t have my heart set on 10 miles. 3.5 is good, thanks. It’s kind of funny, what running does for the mind. It takes me about 40-45 minutes on my runs, sometimes longer if I “remix” with some slow jogging and even perhaps a bit of a walk (don’t tell). Now, for 40-45 minutes in my home, totally idle, I would think about 1-2 things, either one thing at a time or on a continuous repetitive loop. But 45 minutes of running? My mind has been EVERYWHERE.

For example, last night’s 8pm run around Lake of the Isles:

Minute 0-2: The “Do Not Walk” sign at Hennepin is not a sign from the running dieties that be to turn around and laze on the couch, keep moving.

Minute 3-4: I wish the tables at Isles Cafe were a little less all over the sidewalk. Is it rude to run between the storefront and their outdoor seating . . . there really isn’t any other sidewalk space. If I go in the street, will some tree-hugger run me over in their Subaru? What if I run into a server and they spill all over– do I keep running or do I stop? Should I offer to pay for the stuff I spill? Can they hear the music in my headphones– it’s really loud?

Minute 5: Clockwise or counterclockwise around the lake? Quick! Clockwise or counterclockwise?! There are geese to the left– a large flock. . . counterclockwise it is, maybe they will be gone when I get back around. They can be a bit aggressive (more on the part where one chased me on a previous run later).

Minute 6-9: Totally thoughtless, as Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” is playing in the headphones. An incredibly embarassing musical love. I wish there were reasons to hate it, besides it being pop music, but I cannot think of any. I will just let it consume me for 3 minutes.

Minute 10: I am already getting tired. Maybe I should slow down, walk even?

Still Minute 10: Whoa, cute guy, 2 o’clock. Not only will I keep running, I’ll step it up a bit. And maybe smile slightly in his direction, maybe.

The tail end of Minute 10, as I pass Mr. 2 O’Clock: Huh, the gleam of his wedding band is quite brilliant. No more smiling, back to jogging.

Minute 11-15: What does it do to my body to be perpetually turning left for this run? Am I building more strength on one side than the other? Are my hips going to be all uneven when I am older, if I made this a habit? Will I get knee-cap cancer? Probably not, this line of thinking is preposterous. Stop now.

Minute 16-18: Look, there’s a happy young couple walking around the lake, arm in arm. That’s kind of cute, charming. Maybe not my thing, maybe it is. I’m not sure. Which of all the guys I have dated would do that with me? (List a few). Do I need to be physically touching my date at all times? Decidely not. Verdict on the situation: walking the lake would be nice, serene, and a wonderful way to converse. Maybe I could hold hands, but probably not. I am quite animated when I tell stories, which is of course what I would be doing on the walk, and I would probably rip my date’s arm off. That is no way to make an impression. Oh goodness, now I am thinking about dating. . . gah, this train of thought usually derails me. Hopefully something shiny will catch my periphery quick.

Minute 19: What would happen if I lost my key right now? God, that would suck. The roommates are gone, I would be stuck outside until someone came home. I don’t even have my phone.

Minute 20: Is it safe to be running by myself near dark without a phone?

Minute 21: I have my ID in my shoe. In case someone finds my body. I hope they look there. It’s in the right shoe, by my toes. If you see me on the side of the trail, look there first please.

Minute 22-25: Is it more fun to be single or dating? (Internal debate that does not need to be publicly rehashed). Decide all things have pros and cons, and perhaps regardless, the grass is greener on the other side. However, this single grass– it’s not all dead, brown and scratchy. It is stupid to waste brain power on this debate any longer.

Minute 26-29: The lake is beautiful. There are a lot of cool things going on here– some fishers, some kayakers, plenty of runners and walkers, some bikers and bladers, some conversation makers. A few dog-walkers and a small handful of cell-phone talkers. Some families with little kids, some parents enjoying time with adult children. How wonderful. You know what, Minneapolis? You are asthetically and culturally pleasing. I am not dissatisfied with the city I chose to make a home in.

Minute 30-31: It is stupid that my conditioner bottle says that my bad hair is the reason I have dated Mr. Wrongs. A) They have not been Mr. Wrongs- at least not all. Okay, Mr. Med School was definitely a Wrong, and Space Man Joe was a little too out there for me (and completely unhappy with my cumbersome attempt at answering his questions about time-travel and what holds the universe together). My timing in dating may only be discussed as comedic or completely and utterly flawed. Perhaps both. B) Um, I do not think that a 3 dollar bottle of shampoo will transform my dating life overnight (not that I want it to, anyway). Nice try, though.

Minute 32: Did I put on more deodorant before I started this run? God, I hope so.

Minute 33-34: I would love to sleep RIGHT HERE. Well, maybe not in the path but on the grass right next to it. Right here, right now. I am tired. This running thing takes a lot of energy. I bet I could eat a cupcake guilt-free when I get home. I hope there are cupcakes left when I get home.

Minute 35-38: I am running a triathlon in 4 days. I will take the following 3 minutes to totally panic.

Minute 38: Okay, that’s all of that for now.

Minute 39-40: Frackin’ geese. All aggressive like. Well, I will just casually run in the grass WAY OVER HERE for 20 feet and try to look cool and nonchalant– it’s not like I am afraid of the geese, or anything, right? Right. They’re just birds. But I also find this to be an excellent time to run a little faster, at least until they are behind me. So I don’t disrupt them, or anything.

Minute 41: Lake loop completed. Excellent. I feel like a runner. I am a runner. Okay, I am not a runner, but I do run. Sort of.

Minute 42: I need a route that does not have a hill at minute 42. This is stupid.

Minute 43: If Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh and myself all got together to make some art, my mind would blow. The mere thought of it now makes my mind want to blow.

Minute 44: I am going to plan a small meal while I wait for this light (at Hennepin, again). Avocado? Yes. Orange? Yes. Toast? Don’t mind if I do.

Minute 45: If this guy on his doorstep that I pass EVERY run wasn’t smoking when I passed, we could maybe be friends. But since he makes my lungs harden just looking at him, I will flash him a quick peace sign as I jog by and think less of him (just a little). Your health, man, your health.

Minute 46: MY DOORSTEP. Food. Shower. Pass out. Yay good times.

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