The treadmills at my health club are positioned in front of a plate glass window. From this vantage point, one has a clear view of the line at the McDonald's drive-up window, which is always four or five cars long, no matter the time of day. I like this view, not because it makes me fell holier than thou, but because it makes me feel supremely stupid. Life is short; I want a Big 'n' Tasty, even though I know I shouldn't.
Is there anything stranger, or less defensible, than running in place? Sure I have my rationalizations for why I do it. (I'm much too spacey to run outside, exercise is important, especially if one wants to keep eating peanut M&M;'s past the age of 40, etc.) Still, running on a treadmill, or climbing non-existent flights on a StairMaster, is a bad metaphor waiting to happen. And, just in case I'm ever tempted to feel smug as I slog through my 4-5 miles, neighborhood people passing by sometimes make fun of those of us on the treadmills. I especially like the 80-something-year-old, who mimes jogging in place, swinging his scarecrow thin arms and shuffling pigeon-toed. The guy on crutches has his moments, too.
Here's the thing I re-learn every time I run: It's hard to catch up, even with yourself. My goal is to run 4.5 miles in less than 45 minutes. But because I run the first mile very slowly - usually at a pace of 11:15 to 11:30 - it's hard to make up ground. Even if the second mile clocks in at 9 minutes, I'm still not averaging a 10-minute mile.
Then, suddenly, it gets easier, and I find I'm gaining time. I usually hit the four-mile mark by 38 minutes, which averages out to a respectable 9:30 average and means I've run three miles in under 27 minutes.
This is how life feels after a month of touring the United States and Germany. (Click here for an incomparable account of Bouchercon. Click here, here, here, here, here and here for a quick overview of my German itinerary.) After an initial panic, in which I felt I might never catch up, I find I'm slowly gaining control over my life again. Laundry is getting done. Revisions are progressing nicely. E-mails are being answered. Updates are being made to my web site. Passive voice is used deliberately here, for I have no idea how these things are happening. As far as I know, the only thing I'm doing this month is recovering from gum surgery.* (*Click on this link only if you have a strong stomach)
As I told my students the other day, I had good news and bad news: "The good news is that, with the distractions of touring past, nothing will keep me from bringing a laser-like intensity to your work and our class."
The bad news was the same.
Read Let's Do the Time Warp (Again).
Read The Naked Dance.
Read Self Help.
Read Mistakes Were Made.
Read Play With Yourself.
Read Musings and Advice.
Read We Were Haranders.
Read Spying on Harriet.
Read Gone Baby Gone.
Read The Last Good Saturday Night.
Read In a Strange Kitchen.
Read The "D" Word.