Monday, December 14, 2009

Once again, Foster provides wisdom on the run. Today he reminded me to enjoy the scenery, to stop and smell the roses... as he stopped nearly every block to smell the yellow snow. Soon I really was noticing flowers, in particular a few purple sedums freshly frozen in bloom along Primrose Street. And in my running bliss, I felt thankful that I'm learning all these new words, via my partner Alex and his horticulture friends.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Everything I needed to know (about running) I learned from my dog

Okay, so Runner's World and The Running Room have also given me lots of good advice over the years. But as I struggle with my running life -- to race or not to race, how to keep things moderate and avoid injuries -- I'm finding Foster, my new 1-year-old collie, is providing a lot of answers.

Firstly, it's a great way to channel angst. I've started to notice an increasing irritability with my partner (we live in a small apartment and he is, for all his strengths, a slob). It seems I always want to control where he puts things like underwear and dirt (he's in horticulture so there's a lot of soil around the house). While Foster doesn't care about tidiness, he does like to play with his Kong, and when he doesn't get his play time he gets jittery and whiney.

As I write this, after a snowy run by The Parkway, I'm feeling laissez faire and Foster is asleep by the door. Relief for all.

Secondly, well, you can't race with a dog or even (really) bring him out to watch. And I'm done with stress for the day. So there!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another Big Day: the Batizado

I got my first belt in capoeira over the weekend, and, as Mestre Chocolate was addressing the group, talking about the day he got his first belt, I realized I was experiencing all that nervous energy people expected of me on my wedding day.

In fact, ever since I got knocked on the head with a couple of flying legs in class a few weeks ago I've been second-guessing the role of capoeira in my life, and my future with it.

Maybe I take it too seriously, these sports. But I wasn't exposed to a litany of extra-curricular activities when I was a kid. There was skiing in the winter, canoeing in the summer, and I took up running 'cause it was cheap and an easy way to get out of the house on my own. I thought about dance and soccer, but by then sports were so tied up with identity I was a bit scared to shake things up. So I stayed within my boundaries and pushed on in my respective sports.

Fast forward to the present, and I've largely worn out my enthusiasm for the sports I really know. I skied my brains out in British Colombia, but because I tried to make a living out of that passion, whenever I visit the slopes now I just get over analytical, and over ambitious about the whole industry. Plus, I live in Ottawa so skiing means long travel, big money, and short runs.

Then there's running. SImilar story. Went at it with gusto, enjoyed an incredible few years of personal bests and finish line crossings, and now, well, I can't really "go for a run." It has to be part of a training schedule. And that training schedule often has to be modified for my chronic plantar fasciitis and shin splints. Gusto? Yes. Moderation? Notsomuch.

And canoeing? Every time I go to Hawaii I try to convince people to take me out on an outrigger. I'm holding out hope that it will be my athletic and social savior when I one day move to Molokai.
Maybe it's not completely landlocked, but again, paddling is not the easiest thing to access when you're broke in Ottawa.

So, after attempts at breakdancing (er, b-girling), ultimate Frisbee, soccer, and a few triathlons under my belt, I found capoeira offered the physical, spiritual, and psychological challenges I need in a sport.

Or did I?

Emotionally, it's tough. Hard to feel you're getting somewhere. Do I really want to invite this in my life? What if I never want to do it again, but I have this belt, this responsibility, to keep up?

I'm a runner, a skier, a mild-mannered paddler.

But here I was, getting my belt!

And then next day, after partying with my fellow capoeiristas, I went back for more, and I feel it in my system like never before.

So maybe I just have to follow my gut -- worked on the wedding day!