Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful For All of the Things!

I ran 20 miles this morning. The holidays to me means more time to exercise! Any time I'm off work I run more. The weekends are.... fine. But that's only 2 days in which to squeeze in runs, swims, and bike rides. And I'm invariably trashed at work Monday. But I get two days off for Thanksgiving, so I can smash myself today and tomorrow and take it easy (well, easier) this weekend.

I'm lucky. You can even say I'm.... thankful (yes yes, it's a Thanksgiving day post, grooooooan). Some people have to work today, or can't spend time with their families for some other reason. Some folks aren't close with their families. That never makes sense to me and always fills me with sadness. My friends can always consider me family though. And I'm strong enough to take advantage of the time to run for 3+ hours.

Thanksgiving is a time of joy, but it can also be a time of stress. There's shopping, driving, cooking, catching up on a year of family gossip, and so on. It can feel like you have to force yourself to sit and eat... before you rush to do the dishes and make sure the kids are settled with their ice cream. I don't do any of that, because I'm still 5 years old. I'm the one who kicks his feet until treats are dumped into my face. But nevertheless I'm conscientious of the challenges that real adults have to deal with.

Amidst that running-around, taking the time to feel thankful feels like just that: Taking time. Most of you reading this are probably taking whatever few minutes you have to squeeze in your workout, probably in the morning while everyone is still blissfully asleep.

"Don't you dare make us get up."

I remember when I used to sleep in on holidays. I set my alarm for 6am this morning. I guess I got 45 more minutes of sleep than I usually do. But I got up and ran 9 miles. Then I ran a 5k at a sub 7 minute pace. Then I ran 8 more miles. I'm not sure if I won anything at the Turkey Trot; I didn't wait around to find out. There were a bunch of younguns running who smoked me, but maybe I placed in my division? It's not like I could carry (or eat) a frozen turkey anyway.

It was a cold morning, something like 25F when I started. And sweating and then stopping in between segments made that sweat freeze. But it was a lovely run. I didn't care much about my pace. My 5k was slower than previous years, but I didn't care. It felt good. I used to tie my ego to my athletic performance. That just left me miserable. Now I run for the adventure of it. It's awesome.

And I run to burn some calories...

There's a feeling of strength from being able to step out of the house and just go. There's a feeling of freedom, because in that time you're doing what YOU want to do. It's your time, and you're choosing how to spend it. There's no distraction to stop you from contemplating the depths of the universe. There's nobody demanding your attention while you reflect on your self-identity. You can think of any one of 404 things. You can even just listen to music; when else can you blast your favorite tunes without pi$$ing everyone off? It's perfect.

So I'm blessed. I'm thankful. And I'm aware of that now. If I work out, I don't focus on whether or not I fell short of expectations. I focus on the fact that I have the health and opportunity to be doing it! I swam yesterday at lunch. My arms were tired and I swam slow, but it felt really good to be in the water. So good that I even threw in 200m of breaststroke afterwards. I haven't done breaststroke in... a year I think. It used to be all I knew, and I still love it. It makes me feel like a frog.

Frogs are cool.

"I wish I was as cool as a frog :'("

I have all sorts of adventures lined up in the next few months. I have other big things going on that I'm not quite ready to talk about. All of them are making me very excited. They're daunting. They're scary. But I love fear. It makes me feel alive. I don't succumb to fear. If I'm scared of something, it just makes me want to face it head on that much more. I'm thankful that I have things that scare me. That's how I grow and succeed.

I'm thankful for love. My life feels awash with it lately. Can you drown in snuggles? It sounds like a good way to go, like a Monty Python sketch. But it feels like the more I appreciate my life, the happier I get. The happier I get, the more of that joy I get to share with my friends. And the more I do that, the more joy they return to me in kind. Last year I had a tough time and realized how easy it is to get in a downward spiral. Now I'm learning the same thing happens with upward spirals. Like that one Simpsons episode.

"My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball;
but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward;
and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"

Happy Thanksgiving you lovely and amazing people! I'm thankful for all of you! Even those of you who suck a little!

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