As an elementary teacher, I am often referring to things being black or white. Young children, and many older ones with special needs, see things as right or wrong; either it’s fair or it’s not. For many, school work can only be done one way, the teacher’s way; there is never another option. Older students and adults, however, recognize that there are exceptions; we can see grey.
As a runner, I see a lot of grey. Unless it’s a qualifying time for Boston, there is always a lot of room for flexibility in how I plan my runs. For example, I can run 5 or 6 miles; I’m aiming for 45 miles this week (but, if I don’t reach it, that’s okay too); I want to finish this run in 37 minutes (but a humidity spell can bring the time closer to 40 minutes). I set goals and aim to meet them; when I don’t, my running becomes grey.
Tonight’s run was black and white. It only took me five weeks of school to get my family organized enough so that I could run at night. We’re into new routines and different schedules. I’m trying not to wear myself down by doing too much. A part of me has been hesitating towards night running because we’re in skunk season: a friend’s son and dog recently got sprayed; I drove past one early on Sunday night while picking up pizza; tonight, while at a friend’s house, l’eau de la mouffette suddenly permeated the kitchen – and the windows were closed.
So, tonight, while I’m still panicking a bit about logging my marathon training miles, I saw black and white as I thought about skipping tonight’s run. I needed to run or my weekly mileage would suffer again; not running would simply be bad. But, then, I saw grey as I considered changing my route to one along busier roads, shortening the distance or running tomorrow instead.
But the stubborn runner, the one that sees black and white, laced up her shoes and headed out the door for a quick 36 minute run. About 2 miles into it, she turned a corner, ran a few steps, and up came its nose; there she stood, staring into the beady little eyes of skunk. She froze, then slowly turned around, quietly ran away and, as soon as she felt safe, she sprinted home.
I didn’t get in my 36 minute run; instead, it was 31. In the eyes of a child, that was wrong because I didn’t follow the plan; I ran 5 minutes short. But, in my eyes that can see grey, I definitely did the right thing, and I got home unsprayed.