Friday, August 29, 2008

Peaks and Valleys

This is a guest post I wrote for my hubby's blog Get Fit Slowly today:

Today after work I went for a run. To save time I left straight from work rather than driving someplace else to run. I decided to head along Pringle Creek to Willamette University and then run through the campus one time before the students returned to campus. Too late, the students were already back. I stuck to the plan because I haven’t explored the campus much even though it is right next to work. I followed the creek into the heart of campus, where it is artfully incorporated into the landscape. I tried to continue along the river but hit a dead end. Here, I made an about face and ran back the other way. I doubt even the new freshmen made that mistake. As I ran I passed two lion statues guarding the entrance to the theater, the SAE house, and then came across the Martha Springer Botanical Garden.

Continuing, I ran across the artificial turf of the fields, where guys were practicing soccer and then across the pedestrian bridge over busy 12th street. On the other side of the bridge was a building with fairly modern architecture, with the Japanese flag flying out front. “What the heck is this?,” I wondered, just as the sign came into view: Japan International University of America. I had no idea there was such a place, let alone in downtown Salem. The path continued on past the Willamette Bearcat softball field and then it ended abruptly in the parking lot. I wouldn’t have minded continuing my run on the street, but the gates were shut and I wasn’t in a fence jumping mood. So , it was another U-turn, back across the bridge and past the tennis courts.

A side walk garden contained very overcrowded and puny irises, which made me think of JD’s wife Kris, who is especially diligent about dividing her irises, and just like that, I was back to my starting point. A 17 minute tour of Willamette University.

To lengthen the run I continued on the Pringle Creek path in the opposite direction, off to High street, passing what I consider to be the most impressive and splendid house in Salem. The local running group often avoids high street because of the hill, but I think the old houses make it worth the effort. I finished with a loop on the bark path around Bush park including a little path by the stream – a bit of urban trail.

It would have been a very pleasant run indeed, except for one thing: I felt like crap! My legs were like lead and my breathing seemed more labored than usual, particularly given my slow pace for the day. Just a week ago I was elated by my fitness, telling Mac how great I felt, but today I didn’t feel fit at all. I didn’t feel all that great on Monday either. I just haven’t seemed to have it together this week.

I am reminded that Fitness is a series of peaks and valleys. You can try to be on your “A-game” all the time, but some days you just don’t have it. Even elite athletes have their ups and downs. People strive for peak performances, but this may lead to a down slide which defines the peak. The valleys aren’t exciting like the peaks, but they are part of the journey. We can only strive to make the next peak a little higher and work to keep the current valley from being as low as the last.

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