Sunday, July 13, 2014

Running Happy

It's been over a month now since my last blog post. I got one of those Facebook reminders yesterday, essentially asking me why it's been so long since my last Run With Zahida status update. I thought to myself, "aw crap" because time is ticking and my regular blog posts and status updates just have not been happening. It's been over a month since I ran the Longest Day 5K, and a week after that, I ran yet another 5K race (stronger and 30s faster), but my usual day-after-race-day race reports did not happen after either race. In fact, I have the Summerfast 10K this coming weekend, and still no blogs to show for it. I'm far behind but I have not forgotten that I'm a run-blogger. My only excuse is that my free time is taken up quite a bit with wedding planning. Until the big day, I can easily find time to do the running bit, but the writing-about-running bit is a time commitment I am not always able to give.

But this morning, as I went through my drawers to track down something to wear for my Sunday morning long run, an idea came to mind.

This idea has been brought to you by....dirty laundry.

For the last few months since the weather got warmer, I've been cycling through 3 pairs of running shorts. Given that I run 3-4 times a week, it requires me to do running gear laundry at least once a week to make sure I always have a pair of shorts ready to go. I have been busy, laundry hasn't happened of late, and so all 3 pairs were in the hamper this morning. And so the search for a suitable alternative began.

I came across my pair of Brooks "Run Happy" running shorts that I won at a Brooks product knowledge event for Running Room staff by answering a trivia question correctly. I remember when I received them I loved them, given how fun they were, the fact that they were littered with the "Run Happy" slogan (a motto I think we all ought to live by), and the gorgeous blue colour they were. I tried them on when I got home and thought to myself, "so darn cute, but gosh they're short" and promptly put them in my drawer to be forgotten about.

You see, being overweight so long, it took time before I felt comfortable wearing shorts. I've finally realized that shorts are not only comfortable, but they look good on me. There are days though even today where I'm self conscious about my legs. I have big legs. I for those reasons tend to choose the shorts with longer inseams and that are often labeled "for the more modest woman" or "for those who like more coverage". But when I tell myself I have to cover up, it's actually me thinking negatively about myself; I'm not doing myself any good. I have to realize that my legs are big because I have muscle. And lots of it. My legs are big because they run a couple thousand kilometres each year. I shouldn't have stick legs, nor do I want them. Muscle is beautiful. These shorts that I once categorized as "too short" weren't looking so short this morning. Perspective (and dirty laundry) changed everything. They were looking quite perfect. I put them on and they made me feel good. Like an athlete. I liked what I saw in the mirror and I decided that I was going to run my long run in them today and I was going to "Run Happy"

In-the-mirror selfies, a type of "photography" I usually avoid. But here I am. See the shorts really aren't that short. And my legs are actually pretty awesome. I ought to stop having such mixed feelings about them. They've carried me for miles after miles, over several finish lines. I should celebrate them.

Run Happy....That really is the point of running, isn't it? To be happy? Yes, I consider myself an athlete. Running is my sport. I train hard to achieve more and to improve my endurance and speed. I run to stay healthy and to spend time outdoors. But really, the whole reason I love this sport so much is because it makes me happy. Really genuinely HAPPY. A run is the one place I can let go of all stress and all responsibility and just be. The feeling of moving so freely is liberating and really nothing else compares to it. Not even close.

I decided to plan my route and leave the GPS watch at home. Sunday long runs are not about pace, but about getting the distance in. So I opted to do something I never have done before - take my phone with me so I can stop frequently to take pictures. I'm going to enjoy the whole running route and remind myself that the routes on the North Shore that I frequent are stunningly beautiful.  I tend to take them for granted because it's just, well, normal. But on a beautiful sunshiney morning, it's worth sharing. So I packed my phone with me so I could share my morning run with my blog readers: the sights I see and the thoughts I think of when out for a long run. I was excited with my idea, and actually quite impressed that I came up with such brilliance at 7am.

Off we go, pre-run selfie! 

I only have to run about a kilometre from home before I see this stunning view of the downtown Vancouver skyline. Pretty amazing!

A couple kms later, and here we are, at the Boulevard - about a kilometre of gravel trail in a gorgeous residential park, all on a hill. Somehow I usually end up running this darn thing uphill instead of down. I think it's view of Grouse Mountain that captivates me and keeps me coming back.

Oh good morning, Lynn Valley. Where is everyone? It's almost 8am. Why aren't more people awake and enjoying this amazingness?

Hahah, you call that a hill? I eat hills for breakfast. RARRRR! But come to think of it, I'm not really hungry at the moment. I think I'll turn left at this stop sign instead. You know, because if I do, I might see some horses that live down this road and horses are cute. :-)

It's approaching 9am and the sun is starting to get VERY hot. WAIT A SECOND...this park has a water fountain. AGUAAAAAAA!!!!!! I'll be having me a drink and dunking my head in the water too. Thank you!

When I reach Victoria Park, I always smile. It's so beautiful here, and always so nicely landscaped. It's also a reminder that I'm one short mile from home (with minimal hill to get there) AND there's more water here too!

Mission accomplished, I indeed Ran Happy! It's amazing what a pair of shorts can do. I think I know what I'm wearing at my next race!