On November 15th of last year, a Monday, Jon and I set out to fulfill one of the highest and noblest of callings. Through much hardship and training we were destined to leave behind the quiet comfort of our small, but fashionable apartment a few days a week and embark on forty minute long adventure sessions throughout the neighborhoods of west San Luis Obispo. We were ferociously committed to claiming the coveted title of “Runner” and we set ourselves a goal of attaining such a status by the time Christmas rolled around.
It all started, however, not out of a burning passion to run but out of my desire to keep Jon from whining about how he never had time to get outside and be active anymore. I can say this without guilt of making him sound bad because in our relationship, ninety-nine percent of the time I am the one who is whining. So on the rare occasions that Jon does begin to whine, it stands out like a farmer in New York City. Completely out of place and I didn’t care for it. So I came up with a solution. “Why don’t we start running Jon?” “I hate running.” “Oh…”
So we spent a week or two coming up with ideas of different physically active hobbies we could get into. The problem was that with each suggestion the likelihood that we would actually consistently continue to take part in that particular hobby was slim. Surfing included cold water temperatures and the hassle of hauling the boards to the beach without a truck. Biking seemed like it would get boring too quickly and I have always despised that burning feeling you get in your legs after a while. Rock climbing involved paying for a membership at a local climbing wall. Tennis failed because we weren’t good enough at playing to keep a rally going on very long, meaning that the level of physical intensity of tennis fell at about a two. Jon ruled out yoga and pilates almost immediately because last year a friend took us to a local Bikram yoga class and I think Jon almost cried publicly. So after this whole run-around of suggestions, the idea of running seemed to emerge as the obvious, inexpensive, convenient, and literally the only reasonable option.
The first couple times we went running sadly resembled the opening episodes of a Biggest Loser season with Jon as the loser and me as Jillian. He hated it and wasn’t able to carry on a conversation because he was too focused on finding the will to continue. I, on the other hand, also wondered if I could merge my life-long solo activity into a social one. Growing up, running was my opportunity to get away from it all. I relied on running to help clear my head and with the help of my iPod I entered into whatever kind of reality I preferred for that moment. So it was difficult for both of us and also challenging to pull ourselves up and out of bed while the sun was still not shining and when our apartment felt cold.
However something happened on run number five. Up until that point we had been running before work around Laguna Lake until our lungs said, “no more”, but for run number five we decided to go in the evening after work and Jon used his Google Map skills to chart us a course where he could determine the length and grid ahead of time. Bingo! Jon has this thing for Google Maps and charting a course that goes way back to his trip to Europe and his adventurous, backpacker, thrill-seeker, travel guru days. And because of his ahead of time planning, he actually enjoyed the run and was motivated enough to finish the course without my verbal help.
After that day, things really took off and a few days later Jon informed me that he was going on a run without me. I was baffled. Then he informed me that he would be running a full five miles which was further than either of us had ever run together. It’s a proud day and a sad one when the student far surpasses the teacher in both motivation and ability. But he came back successful and sweaty and that was the day our real running adventures began.
Since then we have enjoyed many more runs around town and the occasional special run on the Bob Jones Trail or up and over the sand dunes on the stretch of beach in Morro Bay. One time we parked at the Madonna Inn and set off to tackle the Lemon Grove Trail on Madonna Mountain and ended up on the other side of downtown, trying to make it back to the car before dark. My favorite excursion being the time we ran right along the water line of the ocean, where we joined the Snowy Plovers and receded along with the water and then sprinted for dry sand when the waves came tumbling into shore to devour our tennis shoes. Snowy Plovers are my favorite bird and I like to mimic their strange but cute tendencies.
And now that we have become accustomed to the rhythm of running together and our bodies have since adjusted to the physical output, running has become our favorite way to unwind from a busy day of mundane work in an office building. In my opinion we are becoming more like old people at a young age, meaning we can do almost anything together and just enjoy the other’s company.
This time of year the sun in just setting about the time we hit our halfway point and as we stride we talk about what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s just up ahead for us. We admire all of the big and beautiful houses and talk about which ones we would want to buy if we had the means to. Then we repent to the Lord because if we are ever given the ability to own a nice home in San Luis Obispo county it should be for his uses and glory, not for our own comfort. Next we quote Paul Washer sermons to each other and talk about moving overseas so that we don’t fall into the trap of the American Dream of constantly upgrading our lifestyle and accommodations. Our ongoing game is to make fun of all the ridiculous things people are watching on TV as we run by and look in their windows. Finally, to further lighten the mood we talk about baby names because I am becoming increasingly obsessed with baby names and I don’t know why.
I keep talking about running a 10k this year while Jon still suggests he is marathon-bound one day. For me on the other hand I am content running the daily short races and am not sure my knees would carry me through the wear-and-tear of a marathon anyway. Soccer was brutal on my knees. So, Mission: Kidwells Become Runners By Christmas? Mission accomplished.