After spending the last 14 years as a runner, I have easily run over 2000 times. I have run different routes, in different cities, in different weather and in different clothes, but there are those runs that I will run over and over again. Routes that have cemented themselves in my mind, ones that I look forward to running every time.
There is the 2.75 mile route from my mother-in-law's house in the inland hills of San Diego. This one I run every Christmas morning after the early morning present rush and before the afternoon extended family dinner. The first mile starts out easy. The first time I ran it I was convinced that I was having the run of a lifetime, where every thing falls into place and every step feel like pure joy. After the first mile I looked at my watch and noticed it was the fastest mile I had ever run. And then I turned the corner at the bottom of Alpine Boulevard and realized that I had been running downhill the whole time and that the incline could not last forever. Those first steps around the corner taught me quickly that it would be a long uphill journey home. I finally felt the elevation kick in and start to burn my lungs. Now, Alpine is not all that high up, but for a girl who has, with the exception of four weekend spent at the bottom of the rockies in Colorado, never lived above thirty feet of elevation, it feels like Everest. The next mile is spent in a gradual incline and then another corner. Then I am running straight up. At the top of the hill on the right of the road is a graveyard, and by the time I have reached it I feel like finding one of those empty holes, lying down, and just waiting for someone to come along and throw a little dirt on me. The rest of the run is a gentle downhill that lulls me into believing it wasn't such a bad run and that I will probably do it again next Christmas.
There is the run from my parents house that is flat and fast and gives me a chance to see how much speed I have earned from my training. Nine-tenths of a mile as hard as I can before I reach the turnaround at the end of the boat docks in the Seal Beach Marina, stop for a moment to breathe in the salty air, admire the 50 foot cruisers and racers, dream for a moment of taking to the sea for a year long voyage, turn around and sprint the nine-tenths of a mile home faster than I ran there.
There was the five mile loop I ran every Tuesdya in college. The one with someone singing cadence alongside me and yelling, "Run! Walking is for wussies." (I think that may be the edited version). There's the Torrey Pines loop that starts with a hike straight up the mountain chatting with Tony, only to be followed by a great dirt road gently sloping to the sea with enough stairs to descend and turns to make and tourists to dodge that you have not a moment to think of how tired you are, and the views that lull you into the false belief that you could do another loop, no problem.
The great thing about these runs is that you know them so well. You know exactly how hard they will be, and the exact spot where the run will give you a great view, and when you know that it is all downhill form here. I usually seek one of these runs out when I am faltering in my training, or when life is spinning out of control and I want something to turn out like I planned it. They never disappoint. For me they are a lot like my faithful meals. The ones that I am so familiar with that I know, without fail, exactly what they will do to my blood sugars, and precisely how much insulin to give to cover them. The are the old reliables. After a day like today, where I am eating on another person's schedule, and the dinner that was planned for two-o'clock is served at three, and I have no idea what ingredients were used in the dishes served to me (did they use canola oil or butter? Or maybe just plain LARD!), when I have been chasing my blood sugars all day and testing every two hours, and checking Johnny every twenty minutes, it is nice to go back to the old reliables and be sure that my blood suagrs will turn out just like I planned. I think tomorrow will be a day filled with them. A Met-RX shake for breakfast, an apple and string cheese for snack, a Met-RX shake for lunch, and a two egg omelet with a little veggie sausage and some bell peppers topped with a quarter-cup of shredded cheese next to a piece of wheat toast to wrap up the day and plenty of water all day to replace what all the highs took from me today. And hopefully balance will be restored and I will have one of those flat-line days that we all love to boast about and post pictures of on Facebook. You got to love the old reliables.