Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In This For the Long Haul

I've been running two kinds of races in November. In a way, both of them are against time, so I will eventually lose, but I'm still going anyway. I'm stubborn like that.

The first one is a writing race: to complete my revise and resubmit by November 30th. That's been an emotional ride that ought to have a soundtrack like Rocky.

  • First, there's the part where the hero (that's me!) feels defeated and wounded after receiving the request for a revise and resubmit instead of a new contract. We're not sure she can come back from this. It's a punch to the gut and she feels sick. 
  • Second, there's the part with a mentors who helps her find her inner fire and fight again (thanks, writing community!).  Lots of commiseration and advice. Lots of good listeners. Lots of people helping me see the actionable items in the comments and make a plan. Helping me see this as an opportunity instead of a failure. 
  • Third, there's the work itself, a montage of typing furiously, deleting furiously, banging my head against a wall, pulling my hair, staring into space not seeming to do anything at all, typing furiously again, drinking tea, nodding and laughing, drawing maps and timelines, rubbing my wrists and flexing my fingers, making lists, printing things out and marking them up in highlights and red pen. (good luck, film-makers, making that active enough to be visually interesting: it's actually a lot of butt in chair time).
  • Finally, there's the sending of the email, and the waiting to see if I made muster or not. (We're hoping this one ends with my hand tugged into the air, and someone waving a new contract; but if not, we'll just film a sequel. We're not quitters around here). 

Obviously, that's all very stressful.

So, at the same time I took on a new exercise program. I'm trying the couch to 5K. I should preface that by saying that I hate running. It's not my idea of fun at all. Unfortunately, that's true of most forms of exercise…and that's taking a toll on my body. Besides feeling like a tubby lunchbox most of the time, I'm also worried about my energy, my joints, and my longevity on this planet. So, it was time to take action. I'm going to need a lot of years to get done everything I want.

Running has the advantage of not requiring a particular location or much in the way of gear. I also know a lot of chubby women who've become less so by doing a program like this one. I downloaded one of the gazillion apps out there that will "ding" at you and tell when to switch from running to walking and such and set out.

I just finished my 10th run as I write this. It was two miles long in 28 minutes. 2.5 minutes running to .5 minutes walking. It was awful. I failed in that I walked through the last running segment. I still don't like running. But there are some advantages I'm finding.

  • Guaranteed "me" time. When I say I'm going for a run, everyone else in the house nods and waves. No one (except the dog) wants to go with me, so it gives me a half hour completely to myself, three times a week. That's really rare in the stage of life I'm in right now, with a day job involving 135 children a day, two kids of my own, a husband, writing group, book clubs, stuff for the kiddos, the occasional date or social gathering, and a dog. It's guilt-free me time, too, because I'm doing something generally regarded as a healthy and wise choice.
  • The healing power of trees. O'Neill and I have been going down to the Speedway for our runs. That's an old race track here in Hillsborough, NC. It's a wide, flat, measured path surrounded by woods. It does my heart immeasurable good in the metaphorical as well as physical sense to run in such a peaceful place, surrounded by the sounds of wind in the trees and the view of light shining through fall-colored leaves. 
  • My happy dog. O'Neill is a rescue dog. An Australian shepherd, which dog-lovers know is a high strung breed. That makes him a nervous Nelly to say the least. He loves us very much, but in some ways, we're not the right family for him. He could really benefit from a lot more physical activity than living with us usually gives him. Taking O'Neill with me, besides removing any safety anxieties I have, keeps me going even when I'm chanting "I hate this" with every step. His joy is an inspiration. Today, he ran out ahead of me, then came back and licked my knee just to say, "Isn't this awesome, Mom? Thank you for taking me!"
  • The quiet. Thinking time is so essential for writing. I don't listen to music or books when I run. At first this was because I was frustrated by trying to keep headphones in my ears while I bounce awkwardly down the path. But now, it's because I get some good plotting, planning, and thinking done while I run. I plan the fight scenes, imagine dialogue, or just drift and find strange inspiration I wasn't expecting. 
So, yeah. This is terrible (both running and writing). But I'm going to keep going anyway. Because it's also wonderful. 


  1. I have a friend who got into running by doing the couch to 5K thing. He runs pretty regularly now.

    1. It would be nice if I actually started to enjoy the running itself, but for now, I'll get through on stubbornness.

  2. That's awesome. I couldn't do it, asthma and all, but I think anyone who takes on running is inspiring.

    1. Thanks. It definitely does make you feel like you've done something when you complete a run.

  3. Yay for completing a run! Even if you have to walk part of it, you finished! That's the important thing. Congrats, and good luck with your submission. :)