Two for the Road

What it feels like to run with my ipod:

What I fear it will be like to run without my ipod:

What I feel like after I’m done running without my ipod:

My February race was the Two for the Road 5k at Whatcom Falls Park on Valentines Day. This is a race put on by the Greater Bellingham Running Club (GBRC) and is free to members. I am a sucker for a free race and the GBRC does a great job with set up, course marking, volunteers, and the trough. Also, what a lovely way to celebrate the heart and love by exercising and engaging in some self-care! It was muddy from a few days of rain, but not actively raining and not too cold.

I was sorta dreading the hills since this race goes through some decent ups and downs, but I was looking forward to a run with my best running buddy – MT – and my Mr. I left the ipod at home expecting some lovely company but instead both MT and Mr. ditched me (how rude!) to run their speedier paces. While I was a bit bummed to slog solo and without my necessary aural distraction (always podcasts or audio books – never music), I instead took it as a challenge to listen to my body, my breathing, and take in the sights and sounds of the first glimpses of spring. And, truly, there were no hard feelings!

Anytime I run without listening to my ipod it is an accident: I didn’t charge my ipod. I left it at home when on vacation. I broke my headphones and haven’t gotten new ones yet… or some other version of those circumstances. It happens occasionally but not often and I always grumble about it as I get started. It typically takes me about 1 block to totally forget I was upset about not having my podcasts and to become absorbed in everything else going on around me.

In particular, I find that when I run without listening to my ipod I pay much more attention to my breath – counting the ins and outs, intentionally regulating the number of strides I take on each breath in and out (rhythmic breathing method), and ensuring I get a good exhale to clear the CO2 out of my lungs which makes room for more oxygen and decreases the risk of side stitches. When I do this, the time and the miles seem to fly by – well, maybe not fly by – but it certainly isn’t the death march i always fear it will be. One-two-three (IN), one-two (OUT). Repeat.

But, I digress, back to the race. Despite stopping to help a fellow runner who may have misplaced her young son in the forest, the hills didn’t slow me down too much and I finished in a respectable time (for myself). I tacked on an extra .5mi while backtracking to help the woman look for her son and still managed to rival some of my slowest 5k times – and this was with hills!

Overall, a great race. I still prefer to run with my ipod and I still have to check the disgust that boils inside as I approach a hill… but it is a race I intend to do again next year and I’m happy to know there will be many more hilly, sans-ipod runs in the future.