I have gotten into a little stress eating, and it is not like this is something that is easy to break. Back when I had stressful moments in other jobs, food was always readily available. I worked at a Jack in the Box for a while, so you can already imagine what I would do back in those days. Then I worked at a movie theater, the now defunct Century Park 16, where popcorn was always available for eating and the nachos were free and flowing (not to mention I would sneak huge portions of nacho cheese just to make the trip all the more satisfying). You can imagine how tough it was to work as a projectionist, merely because I was under payed, undertrained and had to deal with people that complained about the screen not being as sharp as their new HD televisions. You can only imagine how many times I wish I could have said “If you want to watch crystal clear pictures, watch it at home!” Instead, I would have to describe the properties of projection as well as explain to people the principle of the “inverse stroboscopic effect.” (Since each frame was flashing so quickly onto the lens of your eye, what you were essentially seeing was the remnants of the said picture. But in between each frame was a frame of black, and this basically means when you watched a movie comprised of film, you were basically watching half a movie and half a black screen….many people didn’t get this at all). Then of course, the days where I worked at the Circle K was when my food addiction really took off. When you have the power to doctor waste reports, it got pretty easy to throw stuff away. I got pretty good at picking the right time of the day to put the roller food on as well, for I knew they would not get eaten and then I can say I put such and such amount of food o the rollers but no one bought them in case I was ever asked about it. I was the master of food manipulation back in those days, and I completely rationalized it through my food addictions. And let me remind you as well, I would eat greasy burritos and quesadillas during my second job or would take a side trip to a local watering hole called eegee’s and get some food that was pretty much slathered in ranch dressing or even make a trip to Subway, where I would get two sandwiches and eat one in the car so none of my colleagues knew I would actually eat two sandwiches. But on the other hand, I was huge, it didn’t really matter. I always assumed my co-workers knew my habits.
As you can see, I am still struggling with my stress eating issues, and this is is only because it is such an ingrained activity in my head. But I also seem to be discovering else about myself. When I am stressed, lonely, sad or just about anything in the negative emotional spectrum, it leads to some rather interesting results out on the track. I don’t know why it seems to happen this way, but I will use my last run to prove a point. Tuesday was not an easy day at work. Our customer is making some pretty lofty demands on us, and we are certainly running out of time. My shoulder was on fire the entire day, and even though I managed to get a little of the kink out with the help of my chiropractor, it was pretty obvious I was out of whack and out of alignment. It was probably because of my Sunday morning run (more on that later). Anyway, by the time I started running, I was still sore and tired from the amount of clean-squat-overhead presses I had to do the previous day. What I thought was a slow pace turned out to be a rather torrid 9.44 per mile pace, which I didn’t even notice because I was really getting in to the playlist I had on. By the time my first mile and a half was done, the stiffness in my legs was gone and the kink in my back was not noticeable anymore. This is when things started getting really interesting. I never went over the 10-minute per mile threshold once during the run, except during mile five when I got a little close and I averaged 9.53 per mile. But for the most part, I stayed pure and was golden at 9.36-per mile over the course of 7.14 miles, the first time I had averaged that kind of speed at the distance. It was quite reminiscent of another run I had a week before, where I ripped out a 9.33 per mile average out of the blue as well, only that night I was really gunning for a good time.
This sort of thing has popped up many times before, and if anything, I have struggled to try and cultivate this sort of effort in a positive way. It seems all my best runs are a result of the negative, which is something I want to cleanse my body and mind of. I remember a really good run I had along the Bear Canyon Path at Sabino Canyon. That day was a running club run, and Jon’s philosophy was to not leave people in the dust like we would do on some other runs. So I had to circle back quite a few times, merely to let the slower runners keep up. Also, Bear Canyon Trail is quite steep, so I was going up and down many times over on this path. I must have done this a few times, and then to top it off, I kept running along a side path that I wasn’t supposed to run up, which led to one of the funnier stories Christa always likes to tell when she was yelling at me from behind, but my music was too loud to comprehend her shouts (I was listening to explosions in the sky that day). What was so weird about that day was I was really grumpy, stressed and tired. I had a horrible night of sleep and my attitude really showed that sentiment. I didn’t really think of that run until January 2 when I possibly had my best run up to that point. I was tired, a little frustrated with my money problems and I felt really alone that night. I couldn’t watch television because my cable had been shut off, and the social media of that night was rather slow and boring. So I went out running in 35-degree weather and whipped out a 6.1 mile run at a 9.37-per mile pace. It was 15 seconds better than a run I had at Ragnar the previous year, a day where I ran 6.56 miles at 9.52-per mile on pure adrenaline and a nice decline. This time was much different. This time, I knew I was capable of doing some more runs similar to this.
I have popped out some other good runs that were close to the awesome feeling I got from the record smashers. The other really good one I had worth mentioning was the last time I tackled The Hill at Craycroft. I went up that hill like gangbusters, and then ran past Sunrise and ran up the other hill that was beyond that street. Not only did I do the 6.1 mile run at a 9.52-per mile clip, I managed to survive the massive excess of humidity that had gently rested on the streets of Tucson. Since we were right next to the Rialto River (which was unusually robust with water), the humidity index was 50% and visibility was pretty awful. I got so hot at one point that I had to take my shades off, merely to the effect that it was getting foggy and I was having trouble seeing in an already low visibility kind of morning. Once again I was groggy, angry and a little negative. Initially I wanted to run on Saturday morning with Jon and Christa, but they had to postpone the time and location to Sunday, which is a day I traditionally do nothing and sleep in. Maybe it was the fact I stayed up too late again and once again was overstimulated going to sleep. I had gone and watched a great train wreck of a film called “The Room,” and if you have never seen it, you have to watch it. It is a movie so bad that it has gotten a definitive book about the filming of the movie as well as a documentary about the madness associated with the whole process. Now you have to understand how rare it is for a movie to get a documentary about the making of said movie, because this isn’t “Heart of Darkness” where Francis Ford Coppola is threatening to kill himself or Martin Sheen getting high on acid during the pivotal opening scene of “Apocalypse Now.” It’s not like “Room 237” where a bunch of film critics try to decipher Stanley’s Kubrick’s masterpiece “The Shining,” making such bold claims that Kubrick was making a movie while secretly trying to show the world that he filmed the fake lunar landing or the entire movie was an allegory about the United States’ terrible history with the Native American population. This is a terrible, made for TV movie that had way too much unnecessary sex scenes and a strange interpretation of playing football.
Either way, I need to start cultivating these feelings to the positive, especially since I want to start getting better at my running. Truthfully, the two best ways to do it is simply run faster or try to pace yourself with a faster runner. Unfortunately, my running partner is nursing a slight leg injury and scaling back on the more impactful outdoor running, so the motivation has to be more in my head rather than with outside forces. Thankfully, the New Year’s Resolution crowd is starting to come out of the woodwork, so seeing a new slew of people walking around kind of helps. Let’s face it, what is better than lapping people! I actually did so on Tuesday night when I lapped a woman that was clearly beginning a new exercise regimen. I passed a few people a couple times as I made my two revolutions around Reid Park. But the other good motivating factor now is the fact more experienced runners are starting to come out again, removing themselves from their comfy gyms and getting out into the real world again. I’ll admit, I am no where near as fast as a few of them, but some that I have seen over the past year are either slowing down, or I am exponentially speeding up. Either way, I am well ahead of my goal that I set in September to run 600 miles in a calendar year. I’m 60% of the way there (officially 362 miles) and will probably break the plane by the time the horrible summer movies I hate so much start coming out. I guess after that, I might have to set a much higher bar to go after, because clearly my 50-mile a month average is much too low of a standard for me (I’m averaging 70 miles a month right now). Let’s hope I merely improve because I’m getting better as opposed to being frustrated a lot of the time. While it seems pretty clear that I run much more violently when I am in a bad mood (or apparently, tired as well), I’d much rather be a good runner because I’m good.
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