Because of backpacking last weekend and letting the days that followed slip away, I stepped out the door this morning well aware that it had been over a week since my last run. I had been doing a good job of maintaining mileage, but as has happened in the past, I'm amazed by how quickly discipline can falter.

Turning the sound down low and turning my body over to the running that it loves was long, long overdue.  I love my job but it has no right to consume every waking minute much less some sizeable portion of my non-waking minutes.  I adore my children but they're sure to have a better father at their disposal if I manage to get in some exercise and clear some mental fog.  My wife is a treasure and, as such, she deserves a husband who isn't diminished by a lack of physical exertion and an inability to get out from under the weight of everyday stresses.  Even the dog stands a greater chance of some attention if I get in a run.

So, with the support of the whole family, off I went.

After a sustained period of temperatures hovering at or well below freezing, today's mid-40s felt almost Spring-like.  The sun was shining and the winds had lost the aggression of the preceding weeks.  I pointed myself in a direction with a vague notion of which roads I planned to turn onto and how far I expected to wander.

Once upon a time, I felt the need to time every run, to go further than the time before and to do it faster than the day before.  I learned the hard way that "success" by that definition is unsustainable and a fool's goal.  Other than an occasional glance at a clock on the way out the door, I can't remember the last time I purposely timed a run.  And, not surprisingly (at least to me), I've never enjoyed running more.  I'm consistently reminded that every run--short or long, flat or hilly, fast or slow, trail or road--is a learning experienced.

Early hills brought on a welcome fatigue that I was able to power through and embrace.  After the first 4-5 miles, I enjoyed a sustained stretch of downhills that were followed by rolling, manageable miles.  Before I knew it, I'd put nearly 11 miles and several days of anxiety behind me:  http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=344286

I stepped through the front door in need of hydration and food, but all my other needs were fulfilled by the run and the three sets of smiling faces that awaited my return.

Clouseau's wagging nub added to the welcome.

Another lesson learned.

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