Monday, February 21, 2011

Run, Forrest, run!

Here's something you may not know about me. I'm a runner. But not like the athlete kind. I'm more like this guy here. I was in 7th grade Cross Country the very year Forrest Gump came out. Do you know what that's like? "Run, Forrest, run!" was shouted at me repeatedly every time I ran past the school grounds. Funny enough, jogging to the bus stop now, I was even treated to the same phrase once as I went by a park in Salt Lake just 2-3 months ago. It's probably one of those same 7th graders, who never quite grew out of it.

I've never run a full Marathon, though I ran on the Cross Country team from 7th-12th grade. But most of my running these days is just to get from place to place. My daily routine to get to work involves running 1 1/2 miles to the bus, riding 30 minutes to Salt Lake City, then running another 1/2 mile to my work. I get rides home, most of the time, though.

That's 2 miles a day for me, 5 days a week. Most people think I'm crazy if I mention that. Especially when I add that it's in jeans, wearing a backpack containing a bible, a lunch bag, gloves/hat/scarf/umbrella for unexpected weather, a laptop computer, and other knick-knacks.

When running in near zero-degree weather one day, my father-in-law said "Maybe you're not such a wimp after all." Gotta love in-laws.

In High School, my friends always tried to slow me down in the hallways (outdoor hallways at my school, not the crowded indoor kind). But somewhere growing up, it pervaded my mind that walking is slow. Maybe it was my parents, who started me jogging with them when I was 5. Maybe it was video games, where character can run forever without slowing down (and if they don't, it's the most aggravating experience to move from area to area). Maybe it's just my inner desire to be different. Most likely it's all of that and more.

Why is it so weird to run everywhere? I ask myself this all the time. For me, it's totally normal. For me, this is how I stay in shape. This is why I eat anything I want all the time and have never had a diet. People in Kenya do it all the time. Why is our culture so lazy?

What I get out of running everywhere all the time is more than just a free-for-all diet. There's a definite sense of self-sufficiency that is imbued in me from being able to get from place to place without a vehicle. It's empowering. A friend last week asked me to come see his new office, 2 miles from where I work. I didn't have a car, but no worries. I just ran the 2 miles each way to see him. It wasn't even a big deal. The biggest problem was all the stop lights I had to sit through at every street corner. They delayed my arrival almost as much as the actual travel time did.

Why else can I not stop myself running? Well, I literally move 3 times as fast running as I do walking. Once you've grown accustomed to that pace, it's impossible to walk and wait that long to get places on foot. Only if I'm chatting with a friend, or if I'm just feeling really tired.

I once passed a college classmate in the halls on our way to the same place and stopped to chat a bit, and he commented on my pace. He too is an animator like me, and he said he prefers to take his time getting places so he can enjoy the scenery.

But he doesn't know...There's more to experiencing outdoors than looking at it. You can feel the wind much better when you move. You can feel your own body working, every part, to make your legs crank you along and arms pumping you forward...You get a better sense of depth of a place when you move through it quickly. The trees and branches 20 feet ahead come sprawling at you. Moving through an environment lets you see it in a more interesting way. After all, I'm an animator. Let the painters look at every detail. I want to see it move.


Cap'n John said...

Other than a season or two of Soccer I never really took part in any sports when I was growing up (sacrilege for an Aussie country boy, I know, not to play rugby and/or footy and/or cricket). Instead, I ran. I started playing golf in my teenage years but I still ran a lot and I never had a car until I was in my 20s. In fact I actually bought a $1,000+ bicycle as my primary mode of transport before I bought my first car, and then I only bought the car because I needed it for the job I got midway through college. I still love running and have started hitting the track at the local High School and running a couple of miles each night, but at 41-years old I don't have my runner's body back, not yet anyway ;)

Anton said...

That's great, stick to it!

I have a great story about Soccer. I was on a soccer team at age 8 and again at age 9. The first year, my team lost every other game. Could have been my teams'fault. But the next year, we lost every game again except for one...The one game I was absent for, my team had a tie game.

True story. I am really really bad at soccer. Er, was when I was 9.

I think it's a great sport though. At least it keeps players moving unlike many others where there's a lot of sitting around.

Cap'n John said...

My dubious claim to fame was also a result of a childhood soccer game. Although I fancied myself a pretty good soccer player I always wound up on defense. Never a Striker, never a Wing, not even Goalie, always Full Back. In this particular game we were playing a team comprised almost entirely of the sons of local Italian immigrants who didn't just think they were good, they were, and many of them probably went on to play as adults in semi-pro leagues.

So their Left Wing got the ball and ran with it down the sidelines and I ran out to intercept him. He tried to kick the ball past me but being on the run his aim was a little off and the ball actually came straight at me.

I reacted instinctively and with a mighty kick sent the ball straight back at him. At head height, to be precise. It struck him square in the face and knocked him clean off his feet. His nose exploded, there was blood everywhere, and he started screaming blue murder.

I stood there in shock, horrified, but also trying not to nervously laugh, as you sometimes do when something bad but also sort of funny happens to someone else. Adults ran onto the field, some to help the other kid, and some probably to protect me from the parents who wanted to kill me for hurting their bambino.

I don't remember if we won the game or not, but I remember taking that kid out. He probably had a couple of shiners for a month!