Daily Prompt: Playtime

Yesterday was Friday, the last day of teaching before a week-long Thanksgiving Break. It was also a particularly gloomy day, on the threshold of dark and rain all day long. So it would seem that, as soon as the students left, I would hurry to my cozy home and settle in for the bliss of that “I have a whole week off” feeling, right?

Not so fast.

First I was going running. My friend and I had planned it out a few days in advance. We wanted to get in a fairly long run sometime during the weekend before we went our separate ways for the break. Precipitation was in the forecast for the next few days and it looked like Friday night was our best bet.

As I drove home to quickly change into my running clothes and grab my dog (he, too, was due for a long run after being cooped up in the house for several days), I intermittently ran the wipers to erase the mist settling, and resettling, on my windshield.

Mist. Rain. Sun (what sun?) setting. Temperature dropping. Rain turning to snow? Should we go out for a long run this evening?

But that’s the thing about scheduling something like this with a friend. Neither wants to be the one to call and say, “Meh. I think I’ll just go home and sit on the couch and eat.”

I quickly texted her:  On my way!

The misty rain had stopped by the time we started. We ran on a packed gravel road behind her house, turning our headlights on almost immediately to find our way through the gloom. The temperature – 34 – was perfect for running since we had on hats and a few layers. I knew though that the slightly above freezing temperature would result in sleet, if the precipitation started up again. A few miles in, we noticed particles of moisture dancing around in front of our lights.

When we were four-and-a-half miles along, we turned around. The rain/snow was coming down harder now and we could really feel it once we turned in the opposite direction. Feel it on our cheeks (refreshing!), feel it on our arms and legs where our clothing was thinner (wet!), feel it in our eyes (difficult to look up, look ahead, to see the small pools of light just in front of our feet on an otherwise utterly dark road!).

We kept chatting. Kept running. I kept an eye on the amount of moisture building up on my fleeced arms. Nothing I was wearing was waterproof. “This isn’t the type of weather you want to be caught in too far from home,” I told my friend. “We’re not dressed right to be getting this wet.” We weren’t worried though. Only a couple more miles.

I felt great. There was nothing telling me to slow down, to walk for a bit, not my legs, not my head, and not my dog as he led us onward through the darkness. And certainly not the weather.

When we got back to her house, she asked if I wanted to come in for a bit. No, I needed to get home and get out of my wet clothes, have some hot food from my crock pot, and settle in to the bliss of that “I have a whole week off” feeling.

Today’s prompt – playtime – made me think of last night’s run. Running with a friend is always fun, but having the added elements of precipitation and nightfall made it even more so. It was exhilarating and refreshing and exhausting and just the teeny bit worrisome. And all those things made it all the more playful.

To me, doing anything outdoors is considered playtime; adding in one small, different, perhaps unexpected, element makes it all the more fun, such as:

1. Running with a friend

2. Skiing with a helmet cam

3. Running in the dark

4. Playing frisbee and counting the number of consecutive catches

5. Running in a red dress with a black clutch purse

Clutch Purse

6. Running up the switchbacks and through the tunnels on the Colorado National Monument

7. Pedaling, cooling off with a swim, pedaling home

8. Swimming around an island or across the lake

9. Running in the snow

10. Having a dinner date 20 miles out-of-town in the camper

11. Making a goofy instructional video while cross-country skiing

12. Showering on a slab of slickrock

13. Kayaking upstream

14. Hiking alone

15. Pedaling through a canyon and sleeping in a cabin

16. Hiking with my daughters to a class II archaeological site that cannot be found on a map

False Kiva

17. Playing racquetball at 5:00 a.m.

18. Pedaling from the brewery, out and back, and then celebrating with a local microbrew

19. Kayaking in the snowy desert

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20. Hiking to see petroglyphs

21. Playing racquetball round robin style

22. Cross country skiing to an overlook

23. Keeping a tally of wins during a month of racquetball

24. Floating a river with all of my relatives during a family reunion

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25. Climbing a 14-er and relaxing, afterward, at the clothing optional hot springs

26. Camping under the stars in the backyard

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27. Going on a super moon or meteor shower hike

28. Letting photography be the point of a hike

29. Trail running while Jim ATVs around and stops by with water, smiles, encouragement

30. Taking a day off work with a friend, the sole purpose being outdoor playtime

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Obviously, the list can go on and on. What do you do to get out and play?

How others responded to this prompt:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/daily-prompt-play/

Real Runners are Just That

I told myself I would contemplate the “I’m not a real runner” quote as I ran my half-marathon this past weekend (I’m Not a Real Runner). So I let the question roll around in my mind for a couple of days–while camping, during the 13 mile run, and at the post-race party and awards.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t run many races, but when I do, I invariably encounter and interact with many members of my local running club. I started running about five years ago and joined the running club about a year after that. I was nervous, for sure. I didn’t know much about running in general and I knew nothing of running clubs. What did they do? Did they all go out and run together? It was going to be impossible for me to run with a group, to move along at their speed and stay with them. At the time, I didn’t realize that there are several different paces within any group of runners. I thought it would be their pace–the pace of the group–and my pace. But I heard about it and I wanted to meet some other runners and I wanted to stay motivated, so I showed up, out of the blue one evening, to a weekly trail run.

I think it may be the bravest thing I’ve ever done.

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The Girl Down the Street

We had a girl down the street.

We got to know this girl almost immediately upon moving into our new home. My daughters met her at the school bus stop and then Addy saw her later that morning in her high school photography class. A quick friendship between the three ensued.

A girl down the street is a special type of friend. You may not call her your best friend, but she’s your most often friend, due to proximity and being privy to what your family is up to. She’s not always the first choice on who to hang out with, but she’s always there, a reliable fallback. She’s enthusiastic, polite, and appreciative of being included. And you enjoy her company, so much so that you can accept her presence for a long period of time. The girl down the street is always welcome in your home; in fact, when she enters, you holler her name, like “Norm!” on Cheers. You feed her and expect her to rinse her dirty dishes. You tuck her in and check on her in the morning. She becomes another daughter, a sister, a somewhat permanent fixture.

Until she moves. On unclear grounds. More