On The Open Road

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Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago

Since I live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, we have to travel to get anywhere. Whether it is for entertainment or a health emergency, driving for at least an hour is the norm.

Every single time I see the open road (well, since 2014, when I started running) I can picture myself running on it. In particular when there aren't very many other cars around.

I took a hiatus from running from about 2016 until now. During this hiatus, I once again picked up the bad habit of smoking menthol cigarettes. And yet, I dreamed about running.

I wouldn't only daydream about someday once again taking to the open road with nothing but my audiobooks, and my running shoes. I would actually have sleeping dreams. In my dreams, I am always running on a blacktop road. Sometimes there is a yellow stripe down the middle, but sometimes there are white dashes. Always I am running down the middle of the road. Sometimes surrounded by tall trees, other times surrounded by an arid landscape. I'm never running on a beach, or on trails. Always on the blacktop road.

Snapshot from my run 26 March 2022

I absolutely loved these dreams and always felt a little sad when I woke up. Not because the dreams were sad, but because I was no longer running.

I can't say whether or not I will have running dreams again in the future. I Can say, definitively, that I will no longer need to rely on sleep dreams to satisfy my running urges.

"Why?" I hear you ask. Well, because a few weeks ago I stopped smoking. I stopped relying on nicotine. I feel antsy when the urge to smoke comes up. I stand up and start pacing around my house. Sometimes a jog around my house.

I thought, "Why not put on your running shoes and just go for a run?"

I knew that it would take time to find my running mojo after being away from it for so long. I knew I would have to condition my mind, muscles, and lungs before I could have the ability to run my 7 or 10-mile route. I knew I might have to trick myself into even getting up off of my chair.

As much as I love running, the prospect of heading out into the cold and the wind at first light was daunting.

My Nike running shoes

The way I tricked myself into going for a run was to put on my running shoes and go for a walk. And call it a run.

The first couple of times I went out "for a run," I did no more than walk. It was windy and cold, so I didn't even go very far. But I got up and left the house.

I headed toward the open road. Toward my blacktop road.

I really only need to trick myself twice before my feet were itching to run. So, I ran.

The 50 MPH Curve sign

On the first day of actual running, I started out by walking. You know, to warm up my muscles. And when I was ready to run, I set myself the goal of reaching the 50 mph curve sign.

I had to run in smalls spurts. When I became too winded or my legs burned too much with muscle fatigue, I would slow down to a walk.

On that first day, I ran at least as much as I walked. I think I did just about a mile from my front door. I used to make a loop down the highway, past the livestock barn, onto back roads with rocks and caliche, onto the blacktop highway once again, through the church parking lot, and past some house in town before coming back out in front of the water tower and on the road home. This loop was 7 miles. I sometimes extended the loop to 10 miles by taking a slightly longer route back.

For now, though, I won't be running a loop. I'll be running out and back.

Yesterday, I got into my running gear, plugged my earbuds into my phone, and set my book to play. I remembered to set my FitBit to exercise and run and distance. I would know how far my 'out and back' run actually was.

As I crossed the bridge leading from my driveway onto the highway I told myself I would make it farther than the day before. According to my car's trip odometer, the curve is about 1 mile from my driveway. I knew I wanted to walk/run at least 1 mile out for a total of a 2 mile out and back. I set my mind on reaching the curve.

Where the road curves, it also forks. The right fork continues on as a blacktop road. The left fork passes the livestock barn and is considered a dirt road. The road is actually more caliche and gravel than dirt. This short road ends at a T. To the right, it heads back to the blacktop about mid-curve. To the left, it continues on past fields of cows and the county roads. The back roads. The dirt roads.

The dirt roads that are actually more caliche than dirt.

According to Wikipedia Caliche is a sedimentary rock, a hardened natural cement of calcium carbonate that binds other materials—such as gravel, sand, clay, and silt.

It is a lot kinder to runners than hard asphalt. It feels like it has some give and doesn't rattle joints the way running on a hard surface does. The larger rocks of gravel can twist an ankle fast, so I have to pay closer attention.

Yesterday, I turned around at the fork. Tomorrow I might continue down the blacktop or take the dirt road and turn right. Yesterday, I reached my goal.

The right fork and start of the curve

I really thought the beginning of the curve was 1-mile distant from my house. Turns out, it is just over 1 mile. So, I not only met my goal but exceeded it! Yay me!

And because I remembered to set my FitBit, I have proof.

My Fitbit reads 1.33 miles

I turned around and started the back portion of my run. I always think I am more likely to run less often on the way back than on the way out, but I usually run more often than I walk. I suppose it is because my muscles are warmed up.

Compared to my old running routes, this one was just that: a warm-up run.

By the time I got home, I was RUNGRY. I always am after a run.

Now that I am still in the throes of psychological withdrawal from cigarettes (the physical withdrawal from the nicotine only takes about 3 days - that part, at least, is over and done with), I am constantly snacking. And I mean constantly. Every 5 words I type, I pause and put something in my mouth. I'm trying very hard to keep it healthy, though, so I don't gain too much weight. At the moment, I cut some red cabbage and put it in a bowl. I'm snacking on it raw. Good fiber, low carb. Healthy snack. Yay me, again.

Yesterday, though, I was really craving something sweet. So I had sliced strawberries, and blackberries smothered in a low-fat cherry yogurt.

Strawberry blackberry smothered post-run snack

I didn't finish all the fruit, so I put the leftover in the blender and had an oatmeal fruit smoothie for breakfast. I added an avocado and a banana. No sweetener. It was delicious!

Today is a rest day for me. The act of sitting down from a standing position is awkward and painful. It is a good pain, though. And I'll feel fine tomorrow when I push through and go for another run!

Out on the open road.

All images photos by Jonica Bradley

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Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago


Got a healthy lifestyle.

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2 years ago

Getting healthier every day!

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2 years ago

I think it is your first post

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2 years ago