April 27, 2010


It is not in my favor, but I have embraced the social networking of Facebook. It has proven to be a nice tool for staying in touch with people I never talk on the phone with (old school compatriots, sister, etc), adding a more social dimension to some of my work relationships (which helps us define each other as more than just "that asshole who screws up our shows"), and making tenuous re-connections with people I used to be intimate with and whom I'm interested in keeping tabs on but without the intimacy. Facebook makes that viable in ways never before possible.

It is also a nice place to fart around when I need some downtime.

To wit: while sick, under-employed, or both, I like to play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Some days: I'm not so good, others: I get lucky. And right about now, you're wondering what the hell an online flash game that encourages sedentariousness...uh, sedementation... uh... sitting on your ass has to do with running? Well, it comes down to how the game starts: One minute. GO.

This short phrase is delivered in a deep, even, almost forbidding masculine voice. There is no warmup. You have a set amount of time and you work as fast as your mouse hand and brain can to achieve the best score possible. There are bonuses to work toward and pitfalls to avoid. Along the way, this same voice gives encouragement in the same even, emotionally distant tone: "Good." "Fantastic." "Blazing speed." "A new high score."

There are no exclamation points.

Today's run was very much like playing Bejeweled Blitz. Oh, it started out normally enough - stepping out the door in my spring/summer running garb. Start iPod on Pheddipidations, start up RunKeeper, wait for signal to acquire while doing high knees and waiting for the light to change, then when all is ready, hit the big green button and listen to the female voice say Activity started while hitching my giddyup to a slow trot (or a fast trot if a car is trying to turn left in the same volume I'm occupying).

But today was different. The wind was angry today, my friends! And I knew, five steps in, that this run was going to be a test of a different nature.

I immediately ditched my plans of a 2.25 mile jog, as there was no way I would stay warm enough on my route. I was underdressed. Also, by the time I was up the next block (an uphill segment) and turning onto the new sidewalk next to the cemetary, I could feel my lungs were working better than in many, many months. My legs weren't as fatigued, either. Good, I heard in my head.

But could I keep this going? Could I make it up to the next turn without dropping to a walk? Amazing, I did. Surely I would have to walk up to where the buses turn into their depot, wouldn't I? But it was cold and even windier in the shade of the MTA bus maintenance depot and I kept jogging. It is a medium steep uphill, so my speed dropped, but I did not walk. Fantastic.

I reached the half-mile point - a concrete post painted bright yellow so the myopic bus drivers don't plow into the 14 foot green fence next to it - and turned around. Now it turned into a downhill run the rest of the way except for a two block uphill segment. I think I could manage to not walk any of it, but was already feeling tired. I have lost so much fitness!

I did have to pause maybe 15 or 20 seconds for traffic before getting back on the sidewalk next to the cemetary and maybe that helped keep me from walking any of the rest of it. My pace was good and strong on this return journey, I felt good. I was even breathing a two-two rhythm when needed. Without coughing! Blazing Speed.

I made the final turn, with one long block left to go, dodged three dog walkers, and finally made it to the end of my one mile continuous run. I almost couldn't believe it! I haven't run a continuous mile like this - at the beginning of a run - in over a year; maybe two. I've had other continuous miles - few and far between - like the last mile of last weekend's long run. That was good, but understandable since I was well warmed up and it was all flat and downhill. But the first mile? I honestly cannot remember the last run that started this way. It also happens to be the fastest mile since I began using RunKeeper, as far as I can tell. A NEW HIGH SCORE. Yay, me.

I'm going to go out again tomorrow - this time I'll dress appropriately and will concentrate on a loop of the cemetary, 3-plus miles, almost four. There will be walking, but maybe I can keep it to a minimum. Maybe I can do it a little quicker than usual.

No comments: