Thursday, February 21, 2008

Running to Stand Still

I keep mentioning how beautiful the days have been here, and it makes it awfully hard for me to put off running. It's too easy to go outside and run when the weather like this. Even though there are definitely days when I want to stay in bed and not go running (Monday was a prime example), I still want to try and get in my miles.

It's been a couple of years now that I have been running, but my distance has always been rather short, and I have never put a lot into it before. It's just been something that I need to get done--excercise, I guess. It got to the point where I started to ask myself--why do I run? Do I really like running? What am I doing this for?

Well, over the past few months, I got some answers to the above questions. I was blessed with: 1) a family of runners (one of whom is my brother Paul, who completed his first marathon this past fall) and 2) an English student of mine who just happened to be a marathon runner and who convinced me that I needed a goal if I wanted to really be a runner: and a good goal might just be a mini. Somehow I bought into this, and the goal was created.

So I've upped my miles quite a bit lately, and I've added "running in a half-marathon" onto my list of new year's resolutions. When I was home in the states for Christmas, my brother, my dad, and I all ran together in a race in Indy, and that gave me a little boost. Now, this past month has been a great opportunity to get in miles, and last week and this week, I made the most of my free day--Wednesday--to get in a couple of good, long runs.

Although I do have a friend that I run with on the weekends, I normally run on my own. Sometimes that means going to the city park's track to get in a run, or running around the neighborhood near my house: it just depends on my mood. But last week I decided for the first time to head to the nearby abbey of San Claudio, close to where my husband works, to check it out and see if it was a good place to run. The Abbey itself doesn't have a large territory of land, but it has country roads all around it, and it also has one 1 km stretch of cyprus-lined driveway that makes a great, shady running spot. After happily completing a long run their last week, I decided to head back this week, to get in another run.

There are all sorts of country roads to choose from, and the area is in a flat sort-of valley, where hilltowns dot the landscape for miles around. In short, it's just beautiful. Yesterday I found myself jogging down a dirt road, turning onto a side street, and heading into what seemed like the middle of nothing--quiet spaces, no cars, the beauty of the sunlit landscape, and the distant landmark of the church of San Claudio the only things to disrupt the flat expanse before me. My ipod started playing one of my favourite songs, and for a moment, I forgot about the running. I just felt happy. Exercise-induced glee. I know it's weird, but it was just a great feeling, to be there with all of this around me, jogging my little feet off, listening to music. It felt good to be alone with my thoughts, my music, and my Italian countryside.

I don't have a lot of moments of pure running-glee. Sure, it can be enjoyable, but I'm not an obsessed crazy runner, and I'm not necessarily even that good at it. And so sometimes when I should just put on my sneakers and get moving, it's hard to get started. So I've gotta remind myself that I like this. I like running--and there are moments when I really like it. I've gotta come back here, read the above paragraph, and get motivated. Because there are still quite a few miles to go.


PS I'd like to take some pictures of San Claudio at some point, but for now, check out some shots that I didn't take, but instead I found on flickr: here and here. It really is a beautiful abbey.


At 3:30 PM, Blogger erin said...

your running route sounds lovely! I'm not a huge runner at all, but thought I might try for the 1/2 marathon here in Florence in April (maybe you should come and do this one!?) So I've been training little by little - but it's so hard here in the smack-middle of the city. I yearn for open country roads b/c I think I'd be more likely to train more: )

At 8:11 AM, Blogger rowena said...

I wish we had nicer weather here like you have! It's been cloudy, cold, and not very inspirational as far as running goes. Me likes the sun on my back. Great idea for the half-marathon though. Go Jackie!


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