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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

 July 30, 2011, was my one-year runnaversery. Having run almost seven days a week for a year, having been out in every kind of weather from weeks of icepack to sweltering 90's, I am more than a little pleased with myself for sticking with it. I've probably run almost 800 miles in the past year. Not a lot for a serious runner, but it feels good to write that. Good? It feels unbelievable, in the purest sense of the word.

I thought I'd lose weight. You'd think, reading this, that by now I'd be one of those sinewy stick women. Nah. Not an ounce lost. I gained several pounds of muscle. Oh well. But what I noticed once the soreness wore off was how much better I felt in my body. It was a revelation.

How could I not stick with it? I'm hooked, as much on this landscape and these colors, as I am addicted to the exercise.

Nothing is the same from day to day. Everything is different and new every time I go out. One fine morning the thistles will have bloomed.

 The colors change. Some mornings they're dull, some mornings they're glorious. I feel blessed to have this road stretching out before me, to have it almost all to myself.

I stay off the paved road. Gravel has proven much kinder to my feet and knees than pavement would be. But every morning I stop and look down at Carl's house, at the place where his beautiful leaning barn used to be. I listen for the catbird.

 Just before the birdsong died out (naturally, I'd add, for they're done breeding now), I started carrying a folded piece of notebook paper and a little pen in my pocket, and scribbling down the birds I heard singing every morning. It was a wonderful way to take my mind off the heat and the hills and the sweat and the toil. I write lots of other things on the paper, too--usually a few haikus every morning, or song lyrics, or ideas that come to me when my blood is pumping.

My personal best for the 2.8 mile daily run was 48 bird species on July 9, 2011. Because I am a nerd, I will list them here in bander's code, because anyone who knows enough to care what birds are singing on my road will probably be nerd enough to figure out what they are (Yes, KatDoc, I'm talking to you) and anyone who cares but can't figure it out can ask me. I love this list so much. It is pure, distilled essence of what makes Zick happy--getting out every morning, rain or shine, recording what I hear and see, and paying full attention to the wonders all around. Note that all these birds are breeding right around my house. That's not all that breed; the worm-eating and black-and-white warblers and many others aren't singing any more, but gee whiz! How's that for a chest full of treasure?


It is a great regret of mine that I can't carry a camera every morning, but even the slight weight of my Canon G-11 is too much to want to haul. So on one particularly lovely misty morning I carried it along in my hand as I ran, and recorded some of the beautiful things I see every day, just to share it with you. It took hours. In the tree above is one of those beautiful things. Can you find him? If I had a soundtrack you could. Astute readers will notice that YBCH eluded me on July 9, though there were three pairs along my route. Ever-changing, never predictable. I bet I coulda broken 50 species with the chat and a raptor flyover. Oh well, next year. It keeps you thinking. Listening to birdsong, sifting one from the other, is my thing. 

A yellow-breasted chat, quacking and clicking and grunting and hooting his heart out.
I'm writing this post while waiting for Phoebe's nightly cross country training--45 minutes to the school, two hours for her training, then 45 minutes home. She loves it. And she's built for it, like a gazelle, unlike her little brick outhouse of a mama.

Whoda thunk just a year ago that running would become such a huge part of our lives? Needless to say, I highly recommend it. Yeah, I thought I hated running too--until I committed to it.


I love running in the early morning, 5am usually. Being out running when others are still sleeping, the world so still and filled with a beautiful peace. The air is crisp and full of promise.... I think it's the most wonderful time of day. Enjoy the waking moments, all too soon they've passed!


I checked that bander's list for LGB's, but they must not breed in your area.

Congrats on your Runnaversary! You have almost run from Ohio to Florida in that year.

Ahh...wonderful and inspiring! You are one of the people I most look forward to meeting at MBS2011

Congrats on your running record. I used to love to run but, after a tearing a tendon in my knee and also having some cartilage injury, I quit. But I love race walking an biking.

I start my tree watering at 6A and yesterday had three highlights. A pair of wood storks overhead as soon as I started working, a river otter on a bridge en route to a fill-up and a baby armadillo crossing a dirt road I detoured down on the way home from getting propane and windshield wipers for my work truck. The only thing better than being out on land is being out on water, especially in a swamp.

Ahhh, I used to run until my knees and back started bothering me. And I ran for the same reasons that you did -- the changes in my area that I only noticed on my daily route, a circuit of 3 miles along an urban neighborhood. It was those subtle nuances among the flowers and chance of seeing something surprising that kept me going as much as the physical activity. Now I walk, though not nearly as much, and I look for bugs and birds.

I envy you the ability to run.
Years ago, immediately after my daughter (and 2nd child) was born, I decided to run. I ran all of two days--my left knee BALLOONED twice its normal size. So I figured, running was not for me.
Walking--now that works.
(I do note that I am not alone--having read the comments above.)

Congrats on your accomplishment and thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration! Truly!

Way to stick with it! The beautiful sights cannot hurt. Nice list.

What are BASW and CAWR?



Posted by Anonymous August 9, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Congratulations on your love of something so good. I know those who hate to run but run anyway, those who love to run and run every day, and those who would love to love to run. That would be me. Instead, I walk quickly with my iPod shuffle listening to "get going" tunes like Hollaback Girl, Gwen Stephani. Tee hee.

Keep running and love your muscles. They do you good.


Dear J.Z.:

Posted by Anonymous August 10, 2011 at 5:44 AM

Julie, I love that you record your "personal best" in birds heard, not time the way most runners would. I think you and me and KatDoc would have a hoot making these lists together - I can imagine all of us at a blackboard, chalk in hand, just like how we did math drills back in elementary school, scribbling hurriedly to see who's list got longest, fastest. It would be a ridiculous Science Chimp fest! And congrats on your anniversary! ;)

@Dan: That's barn swallow and Carolina wren.

@Floridacracker: What's an LGB? Arrgh!

@Birding is Fun: Right back atya!

@Trine and mkircus: You got it. The early stuff is the best.

@Cowango and kgmom: Every day I say a prayer of thanks for decent knees. I've had bad knee problems in the past and nothing can immobilize you faster. I'd walk, too. Gotta get out.

Mare, yeah.Keep that iPod booming and keep those legs going! Would love to walk with you sometime SOON.

Julie: You are a nerd and a runner. I am envious. I am in Texas and there is no running for me. Too hot. So, I am a bit stir crazy. I too run for the feeling of it and not to reach some pinnacle of fitness. Gaining muscle is gooooood. Way to go! Run Like A Girl as they say.

Love the early morning dew picture. Richard


Thanks for the reply to the "bander's codes" question.

I think for Barn Swallow the code is BARS. And for Bank Swallow it is BANS. The first two letters of each name would give you BASW, which could be confusing as to which species you meant.

The same for CAWR. Cactus Wren is CACW. Canyon Wren is CANW. Carolina Wren is CARW. You can use whatever abbreviations you want, especially if you are writing while running!! I tried to do that while walking fast and it was a challenge.

I love your blog and learn so much from it.



Posted by Anonymous August 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM
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