Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Week of Running Brings Me to "Potato" Lake

Since my last blog, I have run an additional 47 miles making 60 for the week—my second longest running week ever.  At this point, I will rest tomorrow, run 35 in the coming week, and be ready for Philly training to officially begin on July 7.  With those 47 miles, I have now gone 1047 miles total.  On my virtual pilgrimage from Baltimore to New Mexico (2000 miles of running for the year) I find myself on Missouri Route 254 near Pomme de Terre Lake.  For those who might now know, Pomme de Terre translates from French to potato in English.  So, there is a "Potato" lake in Western Missouri.    

The week of running has included an easy 4, 7 on the track including 8x800 with the pace starting at 3:26 and coming down to 3:03.  Then all purpose mileage runs of 7.7, 7.5, and 5.8.  This morning, I rand 3 by myself (starting at about 5:35) and then 12 with my running partner.  15 is the second longest distance I have run this year.  While I had my stopwatch going for the three alone to make sure I got back to the meeting place in time, I turned my stopwatch off when I met my friend.  We ran from the approximately half mile point where the parking lot is to the zero mile marker, up to the six mile marker, and back without looking all that much at my watch even to see what time it is.  We spent a lot more time talking than normal as well as meeting many old friends from a training group we were once both part of.  It was a "timeless" run but certainly not purposeless.  The conversation was a good one this morning and made the 12 miles together go by quickly. 

The term Pomme de Terre is an interesting one.  As mentioned above, it translates to potato.  The literal translation is “apple of the earth.”  Even that indicates that it is a bit more complex than meets the eye.  Apple and potato.  More than one type of food mentioned even in the name and translation.  It shows how complex a food can be.  It shows that there are aspects beyond what meets the eye. 

Running is sort of like that.  It is an activity that just involves putting one foot in front of the other—again and again.  Simple, right?  Well, no.  There are hills.  There is the weather.  There is how many miles I ran earlier this week.  Or last week.  There is pacing.  There are track workouts.  There are intervals.  There is tempo running.  There are progressions.  So many choices.  Running is a pretty complex activity. 

Runners are complex people.  What motivates them?  I wrote about this in social media earlier this week, but it made a big enough impression I think it deserves another mention here.  I saw a woman who was clearly overweight running up Charles Street on my way home from my optometrist appointment on Wednesday afternoon.  It was hot. She looked like she was struggling.  I have to be honest.  I half wondered, “Why?”  (Although I often wonder why anyone wants to run in the afternoon.)  But then I thought, “No, I should compliment her.”  I could have honked and given her a thumbs up but that is difficult when coming up from behind a runner.  It may have distracted her or me.  And each could have led to an accident.  So, I didn’t do anything.  But the fact that she was there made a STRONG impression.  It was great that she was making an effort.  It was great that she was trying to make herself better.  It was amazing.  And I thought—that is something to live up to.  Not something to wonder about.  She is doing exactly what we tell people to do.  Make themselves better.  Have a plan for wellness.  Be strong.  That was all coming out in what she did.  Yes, she was "complex" in the sense of not clearly always being one who seemed (from outward appearances) to take care of herself.  So what got her exercising?  I will never know.  It may be the most complex story in the world.  It is her story.  And I have to respec that. 

Finally, I remind myself that everyone has their complexities.  Many of us try to maintain an image.  Married life is good.  Career is going well.  Especially for those of us on social media—yes, we will post about deaths or negative elements of our lives that can’t be denied. But most posts show amazingly positive lives that probably can’t possibly exist.  Yet, when you get underneath—wash the dirt off the potato and peel it—you quickly find that there is a lot more there.  Blemishes.  Eyes in the potatoes.  Things that can’t be seen from the outside.  Things that would remain otherwise hidden.  But things that define the potato.  Over the past year, I have found that many of my friends and acquaintances have a lot more going on below the surface than I ever imagined.  Or than they typically talk about.  For all those friends who have questions of the heart, questions of the soul, or questions about their core values that they hide from the world and keep inside, I offer a thought, a prayer, a hope that they will find their issues settled so that their lives may come closer to the image of a good life that we all maintain.  And though the journey may be difficult, may they find their way and come out better on the other side even if their lives continue not quite to measure up to our ideal images.  

It is amazing sometimes how my mind wanders from one topic to another and while I start talking about potatoes, I end up talking about questions to our core values.  Connecting the dots.  Noursing the soul.  

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