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Top Five Favourite things about Edmonton

Ordinarily, the Wayward Yankee must concede that he’s somewhat of a curmudgeon. I’ve blogged a fair game about the city of Edmonton’s miserable excuse for snow removal, and I’ve also shared my top five annoyances about the city. However, I’d like to switch gears just a bit and share my top five favourite things about the city of Edmonton. My wife, from a Warm Cup of Jo can also be found with her list of top five things to love about the city of Edmonton. Before I begin, I would like to give an honourable mention to Edmonton Transit System. They have one of the toughest jobs in this city, and by and large, their employees bring magic and light into this city. I’ve had conversations with a few of these drivers along the way, and I’ve seen them deal with awful city drivers and cranky, irritable transit riders, and they manage not only to keep their cool, but to keep it light and friendly all the way. Some of us have even had the pleasure of riding the LRT in the morning and heard the cheery voice of Tim Mireault, the LRT conductor driver who would tell you the weather, wish you a wonderful morning and remind you that “wherever life takes you, ETS can get you there.”

Number 5: The Festivals – Now while I must admit that I find it laughable that some folks refer to Edmonton as Festival City, Edmonton actually does this really well. From the Fringe Festival, to Heritage Days to Taste of Edmonton, this city is chock full of festivals, and those festivals are generally well attended and are enjoyable, family-friendly events. The thing that amazes me most about festivals in Edmonton is the way that they are never actually contained to a simple patch of land within the city. The festivals actually spill out all over the city, and, as a result, they draw in more people.  I recall one evening, on my way home from work, encountering a fringe theatre performance taking place right in an underground LRT station. It was bright and musical, and wildly entertaining, and because there weren’t that many people in the LRT station that evening, those of us there could delight in having experienced an intimate, private screening of a performance, even as it was put on in a very public place.

Number 4: Old neighborhoods – Perhaps it’s because I come from a small town, but I really enjoy the quaint feeling of the older neighborhoods in the city. They have character, the houses are unique and it is quite enjoyable to take leisurely strolls through these neighborhoods. On more than one walk through Glenora, Crestwood or Laurier Heights, I’m certain that I could hear the ghosts of my city’s past telling the stories of founding dreamers and their visions for a great northern city.

Number 3: The Alberta Legislature Building—This is a wonderful building in Edmonton with a history that is enjoyable to hear no matter how many times I take this tour, and believe me, I’ve been on it a few times.  I starting taking international students to the Legislature early in my teaching days because I respect the fact that international students usually don’t have a ton of expendable money, and yet they are here yearning to connect with our city. Therefore, it is quite nice that the Alberta Legislature experience is 100% free to the public, including highly informative tours. The tour guides are genuine, entertaining people who seem to take great joy in the work they do as ambassadors to the city and the province. The gift shop at the Legislature is an incredibly enjoyable place to pass the time, and they have a number of quality gift items that are worthy of consideration for anyone who is a collector of fine Edmonton memorabilia. (Forgive my shameless plug -- the Legislature gift shop just happens to be a lot of fun. Go see it for yourself -- you can even try on outfits of our provincial leaders or pretend to pick the Queen's nose! Yes, I know that I'm immature.)

Number 2: The Edmonton River Valley—Quite frankly, the river valley trail system is the crowning jewel of this city. It’s a breathtaking bit of magic that you can go from the hustle-and-bustle of the busy city and into a comfortable, secluded trail system within minutes. While Mayor Stephen Mandel and the dunderheads on city council blather on about how important a downtown arena deal is to making Edmonton a “world-class city”, it is evident that they’ve never actually experienced the river valley trail system. We don’t need an arena. We don’t need gimmicky floats for parades. We don’t need a mascot. Our river valley trumps anything we could conceive of adding to our city. It makes us a world-class city in ways nothing else could.

Number 1: My daughter and my wife – Hands down, they make this city. When the weather is bad, when the traffic is snarled because of poor urban planning, when the mosquitoes are out in full force, I don’t have to face it alone. I also must concede that I’m not a night-life sort of person, not since long before I ever served in combat, so nothing about Edmonton’s night life could make my list. However, when my work day is through, I’ve got something better than anything you could find at a dance club or a pub. I’ve got a daughter who excitedly calls out for me as soon as I come through the door. It doesn’t matter how miserable my day has been; it’s instantly better when she rushes into my arms. I’m reminded that nothing else really matters quite so much.

So there you have it, the Wayward Yankee's top five favourite things about the city of Edmonton.

I don't usually get so fired up by news events that I feel the intense need to respond to them in writing. However, the ongoing saga surrounding the Innocence of Muslims has got me needing to express my thoughts.

Before I get off on the mad ravings of an obsessed Bill of Rights fanatic, let me begin by extending my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed at the Libyan Embassy. Their deaths did not need to happen. They were the result of senseless fanaticism.

Having said that, it is that sensless fanaticism that MUST be condemned, by world leaders everywhere, by my president, and should especially be condemned by leaders of the Muslim community, from where these protesters claim their membership.

What should NOT be condemned, what should NEVER be condemned by anyone who claims to be a patriotic American, is the exercise of free speech, no matter how ugly that speech may be.

Now, before anyone decides they must remind me that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was never designed to protect incendiary speech, or speech that could, in its utterance, create a 'clear and present danger', may I remind us all that the very nature of unpopular speech is that it is incendiary. When people do not like what they hear, it is only natural to be upset. It's what the listener, the person who is offended, does with their outrage that defines him as human or animal.

Rational people, when they are offended, express their outrage in speech and in written word. Years ago, when Andres Serrano produced a piece of artwork, for which he received federal tax money through the U.S. Endowment for the Arts, aptly named Piss Christ for being a photograph of a small crucifix placed in a mason jar full of the artist's own urine, there was public outrage. How could our government, so many Christian Americans argued, provide funding from our taxes to openly criticize our way of life and our ideology?

But did we go out and launch massive protests? Did we burn down art studios? Did we call for the artist to be brutally murdered or beheaded in the name of protecting our prophet from insult?

No. We wrote letters to our congressional representatives calling for them to consider supporting different artists, one's whose themes were more in line with our own ideologies. Yet, the trouble here is that, as many will argue, art isn't terribly valuable if it doesn't challenge you in some way. Good art is thought-provoking, and compells you to challenge your own way of thinking. Art shouldn't simply behave as the bastion of supporting your way of thinking.

Which brings me back to The Innocence of Muslims. Certainly here in 2012, we as a society, whether liberal or conservative, can agree that the one right that we cannot preserve for people, and free and democratic society should take no interest in preserving, is the right to not be offended. Being offended is part of the natural experience of being mortal. If government takes great effort to ensure that people aren't offended, what's next? Do we make it illegal to cause someone to be heartbroken? Do we make it a federal crime if you make someone cry?

Really, when it is all said and done, if you truly believe that the prophet of your faith is incapable of enduring an insult flung at him from someone outside of his faith group who has never encountered him or experienced his message, and the only measure you have to respond to that is by senselessly killing innocent people, then maybe it is time to question whether you truly understand the tenets of your faith. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to bring it back to the drawing board, take a good hard look at what you're dealing with, and decide -- is it more important that your prophet be free from depiction or insult, or is it better that you behave in a way that makes you a humble ambassador for your faith. Until rational, clear-thinking Muslims can reign in the reactionary clerics and their followers, I think we'll continue to have these sorts of problems all over the world simply because it is inconceivable, illogical, and wholely wrong-headed to call for censorship of free speech simply because some people are offended.

Take a lead from other religious groups throughout the world, Muslims. Grow up!

My wife Jo, of A Warm Cup of Jo, and one of our best friends, Divulge with Dani, have been blogging together now for the last couple of weeks, and are committing to maintaining a Friday Top Five.

This week, the ladies have elected to blog about the Top Five things that they hate about their city. Now, my wife is always telling me that I’m a bit of a curmudgeon and that sometimes, I’m just too negative; however, I just can’t resist contributing something to this discussion.

Therefore, without further introduction or fanfare, the Wayward Yankee’s Top Five Things he hates about his adopted home, the city of Edmonton, Alberta.

 

Number 5: The smell of downtown – Perhaps downtowns in all major cities smell bad; I can’t really tell you as I haven’t lived and worked in very many cities. When I lived in Taegu, South Korea, I distinctly remember the downtown core smelling something like kimchi, cabbage rolls and boiled rice – perhaps the sheer numbers of restaurants with similar fare were causing this smell to envelope their downtown.  In the small town where I was raised, on one end of the downtown, you could distinctly smell the competition between the pizza places and the Bagelry; at the other end of the street, the McDonald’s and Burger King would duke it out with their own distinct aromas.

I wish downtown Edmonton was like this. It’s not. Edmonton stinks. The LRT stations around the downtown core all smell like stale urine, and in many places along Jasper Avenue, you can actually smell the sewer lines more than you can smell the products of any of the eateries.  While I’m sure that no one in the city is actually ever urinating or, heaven forbid, defecating in the LRT station stairwells, this terrible odor problem persists.

Should the city have more publicly-accessible washrooms? Should the city have signs up specifically notifying people that the LRT stairwells are NOT public washrooms? Should the city hire clean-up crews to blast the LRT stations with a concentrated liquid form of urinal cakes in order to deodorize our downtown core?

 

Number 4: Our severely corrupt city council – What exactly is a conflict of interests? Don’t ask Mayor Mandel, Karen Leibovici or other members of our city council, as it is apparent that they don’t know. Either that, or they think that nobody will care that they vote in ways that clearly benefit their own wallets or self-interests rather than reflect the genuine needs or desires of the constituency that elected them. When it came time to vote on Darryl Katz’ downtown arena project, Mayor Mandel voted in favor. This is not surprising, given that Katz supported Mandel’s re-election bid. Mandel was simply doing what he was paid to do. Karen Leibovici’s husband is employed by the Katz group, yet she did not feel the need to recuse herself from the vote on Katz’ downtown arena project. Rather, she felt it was important to vote against the wishes of the people in her riding and in favor of the arena project. Would her husband’s job have been secure if she had voted against the project or if she’d abstained from the vote? We’ll never know.

Number 3: The City of Champions – Sure, once upon a time, when a kid named Wayne Gretzky was scoring enough goals to be provided with the unoriginal nickname “The Great One” and when Warren Moon and James “Quick” Parker were putting on a show in the Green and Gold, the moniker might have been fitting. I know that Jo and Dani will probably disagree with me on this one, but I’ve come to believe that Champions are not, in fact, valued at all by this city. Peter Pocklington may have made himself unpopular when he traded away The Great One, but it’s really a practice quite in line with the way this place works. Demonstrate championship caliber at something around here, prepare to get dismantled. Look no further than the last highly successful sports team in this city, The Edmonton Capitals. They were the champions of the Golden Baseball League last year. Certainly, in the city of champions, they would be valued and celebrated in the following year. They would have to have an opportunity to defend their title, to go for a repeat, to have a victory lap with their fans.

Nope, not in this city; we’ve got no room for champions. Despite being owned by billionaire Darryl Katz, the team couldn’t have a season this year, because it couldn’t afford the travel costs to get to the away games. Again, this should come as a surprise to no one, as the shameless billionaire has no qualms about holding the city hostage to pay for his $550 million arena. What would make anyone think he would be able to see that the actual champions he owns would have an opportunity to play again?

 

Number 2: The snow removal – Now, to plagiarize a bit from Dennis Miller, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but the city of Edmonton puts about as much forethought into their annual snow removal as Sarah Palin’s children put into their family planning.

We interrupt this rant for an important news bulletin.  This just in: people who live in Alberta can expect to encounter snow yearly. In other equally shocking news, water has been found to be wet.

These are facts that small children can wrap their heads around without a lot of prodding and pressure, yet clearly, our city leadership cannot. As a result, year after year, citizens of this city are forced to endure terrible road conditions in their neighborhoods and unclear pedestrian paths from curb to curb between sidewalks. I could froth continuously about how inept this city is with regards to snow removal, but I’ll spare you. Should you really want to read about it, dig into the archives of my blog and relive some of Edmonton’s finer moments, as our city’s leadership proudly demonstrated their ineptitude and left citizens like me shaking our heads in sad disbelief.

 

And the Number 1 thing I hate about this city: Piss- poor urban planning and development – Surely anyone who lives in a northern city can respect that every summer, some road maintenance and construction will have to occur and that, as a result, some road closures and detours will inevitably happen. What is phenomenal about Edmonton is the lack of clear vision with regard to their infrastructure maintenance planning. Earlier this summer, huge portions of both 111th Avenue and 107th Avenue were closed for maintenance at the same time. People who made the unfortunate error of travelling East or West in our city had to tack-on about 45 minutes to an hour to their commute.

If that weren’t bad enough, motorists around this city get frustrated when it is clear that the companies contracted by the city to do the roadwork only have a couple of crews in the city, and yet have all their jobs started. This means that, rather than completing one job and moving on to the next job, they keep many jobs open all summer, and some jobs are open excavation sites for weeks at a time, with no work being done on them at all, yet motorists still must respect the reduced speed limits and endure endless detouring.

Furthermore, how about that urban sprawl? How many more years do we have before St. Albert is subsumed into Edmonton? Rather than building more sustainable neighborhoods in our city’s core, we continue to expand out North, East and West, and our transit system continues to demonstrate its inability to keep up with the ever increasing demands of the citizenry. Perhaps Edmonton Transit should have made my Top Five, but honestly, I don’t hate it so much as I pity it. The way I see it, Edmonton Transit is as much a victim of all of this as we, the good citizens, are.

Why can’t we develop sustainable downtown neighborhoods? Well, for starters, there’s inflated home values, which will only continue to rise as the city of Edmonton assumes all costs for the billionaire’s downtown arena. This, in turn, will drive more families to moving to the outer limits of the city, in a desperate attempt to avoid surrendering everything they’ve worked their whole lives for in order to placate the billionaire’s greed.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to see our downtown area diminish, old neighborhoods of character and history to this city will continue to become the turf of drug users and dealers.  All of this, despite the promises of revitalization on which the Katz group sold this city its ill-conceived downtown arena project. Let’s just remember that the only evidence we need to remind us that a downtown arena would not revitalize our downtown is Rexall Place. Look around the neighborhoods nearby that barn. Are they beautiful, desirable places for home ownership and development? The Oilers had years to make their mark and revitalize that area. Yet it never happened; and it won’t happen with the downtown arena either. It might go through a couple of years where the businesses and residents put up a good fight and try to claim their turf. But in the end, it will end up like Stony Plain Road, Norwood or Beverly, with the pleasant signs advising passing johns that “this community does not tolerate prostitution,” which may as well be a sign advising that, in fact, the community would be the proper place for a john to find someone willing to be exploited.

There you have it, the Wayward Yankee’s Top Five Things to hate about the City of Champions, er, the city of Chumps… excuse me, I mean, the city of Edmonton. *

*Disclaimer – The Wayward Yankee would like to take this opportunity to point out that there are many wonderful things about the city of Edmonton. Perhaps at another time, when he’s feeling less irritable, he could be compelled to list some of those.

Run Interrupted

This morning, I got up and started planning for my long run. I figured I'd do somewhere between 4 - 6 miles. It was a bit windy outside, so I decided I would go ahead and run on the treadmill.

Admittedly, I didn't exactly race out of bed and jump right on the treadmill. Instead, I delayed it a little bit by going on Facebook and by reading a couple of e-mails and such. Finally, when I got to the treadmill, it was almost 9 a.m.

About 12 minutes later, Joanne comes bounding as quickly as a 7-month pregnant woman can down the stairs to tell me that our home security alarm went off at the other house.

So I had to stop my run right then and drive over to the other house to meet a guard dispatched by our alarm company.

When I got to the house, I wasn't sure what to do. I decided I definitely shouldn't attempt to enter the house, just in case there was an actual burglar in the house. Instead, I parked myself outside on the street and waited for the guard to arrive.

After an eternity and a half, the guard pulls up to the house acrosss the street. Honestly, had I in any way realized how long it would have taken the security guard to come to the house, I wouldn't have driven there. Instead, I would have run there so I could have counted the miles toward my fitness goals.

Anyhow, he gets out of his car and comes over to greet me. He asks me my name and then asks if I've been in the house. After assuring him that I had not been in the house, he informs me that the alarm registered an interference on my front door. Together, we go to the front door and attempt to open it. It's locked; just as I had left it before. We go around to the back of the house and enter. Once inside, the alarm tells me that I have a low battery at my front door.

Not only is it troubling to me that the alarm system that was installed just over a week ago is already having battery issues, but I'm also beginning to realize that this security guard didn't ask for one shred of evidence that I was who I said I was. The way I see it, anybody could have taken something from my mailbox and used that to determine who owned the home; then, after breaking in and setting of the alarm, could have used that name to identify himself to the guard without raising the guard's suspicions in any way.

Maybe I'm being a bit over-critical. After all, it is Easter Sunday. Yet still, for as long as it took for a guard to get to the house (almost an hour), I would expect a bit more by way of throughness of the guard to his job. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the guard to take certain measures to be assured that he is, in fact, dealing with the homeowner and not with a burglar.

At any rate, so far, I've only gotten 1.2 miles run today. I'll see how I feel after my Easter dinner has had a little while to process, and then, if I can muster the motivation, I run a long trek this evening.

Hopefully, I won't get called back to the house on another false alarm.

Training toward the 10k

I took yesterday off.

It wasn't my planned day off from running. It just happened that way for no other reason than that I am just plain lazy.

Rather than build a two-day trend onto my laziness this morning, I decided to return to running today.

I didn't run far. In fact, I only ran 2.5 miles; yet that was enough for me to see the benefit of taking the day off yesterday.

For one thing, my quads weren't killing me this morning. For another thing, my lower back wasn't hurting.

Best of all though was that I was able to shave a minute off my two-mile time.

If I'm able to get another two and a half minutes off that two-mile run time, I'll be at the pace I was running last October, when I was celebrating five years since the end of my time in military service.

I've started giving some thought to how I'm training to run this 10k at the end of May. I think what I am going to do is build myself a run schedule, one in which each week has a long run day which corresponds to the day in the week when I will be running the 10k for the Little Big Run.

Each week, I will make that long run a bit longer, with the final long run being somewhere between 15 and 20k long. That way, when I have to run the 10k, it won't feel like a long run to me anymore.

Instead, it will feel like I'm taking it easy on myself. Hopefully, this will allow me to improve greatly on the 10k run time from the last time that I ran it.

Admittedly, I was a few years younger and 15 - 20 pounds lighter then. But then again, I didn't even train for that last 10k. I just went out and ran it. Out of shape and all, I still managed to finish the run in 1:18.

It might be ambitious as hell, but I'm betting myself that I can finish this year's 10k run in under an hour.

Hey, if you're going to dream, you might as well dream big.

Only 2, 433.5 miles to go.


A five-mile morning


This morning, I woke up with a now familiar soreness in my quads. My back felt just a little tight, and my shoulders were a bit pinched.

I'll take it easy this morning, I thought as I made my way to the treadmill. Maybe I'll only run a mile.

During the first half of the mile, I was all but certain that I would only make it for a mile. I felt like time was standing still, and that as much as I railed into the mile, the mile seemed to be running away from me.

At the nearly three quarter mark, I began to negotiate with myself

What if I just finish this mile and then walk for a little while and see if I'm up for a little more?

This idea seemed reasonable enough. As I neared the point at which I had told myself I would begin walking, the bargaining voice in my head called out again.

Why stop now? Are you feeling any pain? No? Are you winded? No again? Then why would you want to slow down? Whaddya say we just coast through this second mile and see how we feel after this?

How could I argue with such convincing logic? I battled on into a running a second mile. Before I knew it, I was running toward my third mile.

See, this isn't so bad. Just hang in there, we'll keep going until you get tired.

Now admittedly, I'm still not running very fast. In fact, it was over 33 minutes once again before I had finished my running my third mile. But no matter; I'm running, and that's what's important. I'll get the speed later. I can be quite fast when I need to be, I remember that from all the times in the Army that I had to will myself into passing the timed two mile run.

By the fourth mile, I was sweating profusely and starting to feel my legs wanting to quit. Just as I was noticing myself feeling weak, I could hear that voice in my head mocking me.

So this is it, huh? You're going to quit after just over four miles? You're over the mile mark, you know. Why don't you just get to four and a half miles, and I'll let you walk the rest of the way in.

I should have known that I couldn't really trust that voice. Wasn't he the same voice that told me that it would be okay if I just ran a mile today?

So as I was nearing four and a half miles, I kept telling myself that no matter what, I would begin walking at 4.50. Yet somehow, that number came and went as well.

As I was nearing the five mile mark, the voice in my head tried to entice me to continue running.

C'mon, soldier... why not just run 6.6 miles? That's 10 kilometers, you know. You can see how you body will handle that run.

I might have heeded that voice one more time, but my treadmill decided otherwise. When I hit five miles, the machine suddenly dialed down and then ended the run.

I took my sign, got off the machine, and started stretching.

Only 2,436 miles still to go!


Am I a jerk?

Hmmm... I'm going to go there.

Am I a jerk?

I've thought about it sometimes. I occassionally re-read things I've written, or replay conversations I've had with people, and sometimes I come away with the distinct impression that I might, in fact, be a jerk.

Maybe that's not even the right word.

Perhaps I'm a self-absorbed, obnoxious, know-it-all blowhard.

But then again, maybe it's that I'm a guy who just happens to be right about a lot of things the majority of the time, and maybe I'm just incredibly intelligent and the burden of enduring the idiocy of society has caused me to be widely perceived as a curmudgeon.

In any case, if I'm a jerk to you, I'm sorry. Please forgive me.

It'll be okay. Just know that I'm right.

I am a runner

Today, I'm finally prepared to admit that I am a runner.

There, I've said it; now we can move on.

Wait, perhaps we need a little background to understand where this comes from...

I was eighteen years old, in basic training, running yet another five miles at oh-dark-thirty, while enjoying the obnoxious, thundering candence of drill sergeants. As I was starting to fall out of the run, one of the drill sergeants ran up behind me and started shouting in my face.

"Get the hell back in my formation, hero! Don't you fall out of this formation! Keep running, hero!"

Suddenly, I slowed to a near walk, and glared at my tormentor. Indignantly, I shouted back at him,"If I'm in the mightiest Army in the free world, why in the hell am I running? Shouldn't I just be practicing my ass-kicking?"

The drill sergeant pulled me out of the formation and started running alongside me behind the formation. As the formation was fading off into the distance ahead of me, the sergeant turned to me and shouted, "What's your military occupational specialty?"

"I'm going to be a baritone player in the Army band,"
I proudly boasted.

"And you wonder why you're running? You need to be running, hero! Let me make this clear to you; if the war comes to the band, you can take my word for it that we've lost it. Your only hope will be to be able to outrun the enemy's bullets. Good luck, horn-blower."

Represented above is only one of hundreds of conversations I've had with Army sergeants, officers, Army civilian employees -- really, anyone who would listen to my ravings, desperately trying to convince myself that there was little real reason for me to be running.

So tonight, I'm calling an end to all my protests of running as an appropriate activity.

I am a runner.

Over the last 15 years, I had:

  • sometimes drank to excess
  • often ate to excess
  • always relaxed more than I worked
Now, I'm running away from that behaviour. I'm running away from a person who is okay with being incredibly overweight. I'm running away from the guy who put on almost twenty pounds since my wedding.

I am a runner.

Today, I ran three miles without stopping. It wasn't wonderful. It wasn't quick. In fact, it took me nearly 34 minutes! That's over 11 minutes a mile. My old standard was an 8-minute mile. I'm quite a way off the pace; but for now, it's not about speed. At this point, it's simply about getting the miles in. Nothing more.

I'll get the speed later. For now, I'll build my endurance.

I also climbed seven flights of stairs at the Misercordia Hospital this morning after my run. I got winded by the time I got to the fifth floor. It was quite humbling. I'll be skipping elevators for awhile, at least until I can demonstrate to myself that I'm not going to pass out if I have to escape from a burning building and can't use the elevators.

Anyhow, with the three miles I ran this morning, it's now 2,441 more to go.

What counts

This week, I've decided to abandon counting the Weight Watcher points in my food in favor of simply focusing on my activity level. So far, I've run two miles, and I've walked four miles.

Tonight, I've decided that, as it is the activity that counts, I am going to count both walking and running daily total distances toward my total miles accumulated.

So now, my end of day total is six miles.

I know I'm going to have to increase my running and walking activity over the next few weeks, as I need to average almost 7 miles per day to achieve my goal. Also, I'm sure there will be days where I will need to take a break from all the running and such.

Only 2,444 miles to go.

Beginning the long and painful journey

This morning, I argued with myself over the point of waiting until April 1st to officially kick-off my 365 day, 2,450 mile personal challenge.

The long story, uncommonly abbreviated, is that I decided that it makes little sense to waste the days of my Spring Break holidays not actively pursuing my running goals. Therefore, I have begun the long and painful journey toward completing 2,450 miles.

This morning, at 9:30, I started running.

At 9:55, I returned home. I had conquered the first two miles.

The run was slow. When I started, I felt an unbelievably sharp pain in my lower back. My feet felt like cinder blocks pounding senselessly against the concrete sidewalks. I thought I would never get through even the first quarter-mile.

But I pressed on.

Thankfully, after about half a mile, the pain in my back subsided, and I began to just focus on continuing to run, dutifully matching my pace to the beat of the music coming from my cellphone (How was I ever running before the age of walkman-cellphones? Oh yeah, I remember now, cadence.)

When I finished running the second mile, I seriously considered running a third mile. However, I've decided that if I'm to be serious about keeping this commitment to running going all year long, I'm going to have to pace myself and build up to the bigger runs.

What was important for me in this morning's run was that I committed to running two miles without stopping or walking, and I did that, albeit rather slowly.

But it's not going to be about speed now.

For now, it will be about keeping a personal commitment to fitness.

Only 2,448 miles left to go! :)

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