The Beloved, Dreaded Vacation Run

Did you, or will you, run on vacation this summer?  For me, taking a run during a vacation trip is simultaneously annoying, disruptive and restorative. Something I have to force myself to do– and never regret.

Here’s what I was thinking last summer when I was on vacation with my youngest daughter at the idyllic family camp Rockywold-Deephaven in New Hampshire.

Why the F am I putting myself through this when I could be sitting on the calming shores of Squam Lake and doing absatively nothing? Why am I enduring torture — however briefly– when I could be laying on the cozy bed in my cabin, eating chocolate chip cookies, or reading that book I’ve been carrying around for months without finishing?

Why am I running at all?  This goal [of running a competitive mile for the first time in 32 years] notwithstanding– is it all that important to me that I can’t give myself a treat, blow off a week and just enjoy some down time?

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Heading out on the last vacation trip of the summer this weekend? Will you run?

Stop.

I’m finding that the less time I spend ruminating about philosophical questions like those, the better off I am.  Instead, let’s tackle the practical.  I am here on this vacation alone with my youngest and have exactly 2.5 hours each day that she is taken care of in her little kids camps.  So that’s all the time I have to do grown-up things like, well anything that doesn’t involve playing with, swimming with, canoeing with, eating with, chasing ping pong balls with, or resolutely resisting the exhortations of a first grader.  Writing is rushed and cramped when she’s pestering me to use the computer or posing the existential question “What can I do now?” or the heartwrenching classic: “I want to play WITH YOU”.  If any parent out there can ignore that statement for very long, I’m not sure we are paddling in the same canoe.

No, the point of this vacation isn’t to run.  It’s to enjoy her company and explore nature and bask in the glory that is old fashioned summer time.  Enjoy some good meals without having to clean up, feel the cool of the magnificently alive lake, which makes chlorinated pool water seem like a man-made facsimile– the tofurkey of water. To rest, to relax, to find clarity and simple pleasure.  To escape.  To rebuild the body that’s subject to life’s pushes and pulls, to restore the mind that is bogged down with worry and fear and deadlines and schedules and emails.  To see, to feel, to hear, to touch, to taste what has either not yet been or has long been forgotten.

On the days I run, the rest of the day is so much better– relaxed, brighter, present, focused. On days I don’t run, it’s dreary, heavy, lazy, sticky, blah. Like cookie batter.  I’m more easily agitated by the requests of a kid who just wants to play with her Dad.  She is asking me, on bended knee, to be with her forever.  And in order to say yes to her without reservation, I must say yes to my run.  And the truth is, it will, in it’s own way, be the best part of the day.

Time check. I’ve got 30 mins left to pick her up from the kids camp.  Time enough to say “YES” to my running shoes and bye to my blog!

Where did you run on vacation this year?

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