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Ah, spring … March 16, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball, Exercise.

The Mississippi River and Ben Butterworth Parkway, fall 2009

 I love daylight saving time (which, according to a tweet I read from AP Stylebook is the proper term for it) so much that my least favorite day of the year is when it ends. Darkness at 5 p.m. is depressing. Plus it forces me out of my after-work spring/summer/fall routine of going to Ben Butterworth Parkway along the riverfront in Moline and walking or running. So when spring arrives and I can return, it’s a cause for celebration.

Ben Butterworth is like a second home to me, since I’ve been exercising there regularly for eight years now. Walking along the river was how I exercised while losing weight in 2002. It was where I first started running, on a brisk and breezy day in May 2003. I’m not sure which was worse, running into the wind or the eternity of that first 60 seconds (all I needed to run each time). I’ve improved since then, even though injuries have had me starting over with running several times in the past seven years. But those have usually occurred down there as well.

Yesterday was the big day, my first time to exercise there since last fall. The weather was terrific with the temperature in the upper 50s, little wind and enough scattered clouds that I didn’t need sunglasses. As I changed into my exercise clothes before leaving work, I discovered my sports watch wasn’t in my bag. With running again the past two weeks, my watch governs my progress on the running program. Or, perhaps more accurately, I let the watch take charge.

But I decided not to let it bother me – nothing was going to detract from the day. I’d just make due and run as far as I could, walk a bit, repeat. I’m familiar enough with the path to know how far to go for total distances of two-and-a-half, three or four miles.

My usual parking lot was about half full when I arrived. Starting on the path was like visiting an old friend. As I passed the Captains Table and continued on, I saw several other old friends were there too: the crows, gulls, ducks and Canada geese, as well as other runners, walkers, dog-walkers and even a few rollerbladers. People are always friendly along the path, but seemed even more so last night. Perhaps, like me, they were happy to be outside again.

And I was equally happy to be along the river. The Mississippi never looks the same from day to day, nor do the sky and clouds. It’s always enjoyable to see what they look like. Since yesterday’s breeze was slight, the river’s surface was mostly smooth. No sun sparkling on the surface as it has so many other times, but the ducks and geese paddled along anyway. It was all enough to make the first half of my journey very easy and smooth. The running part went fine, with the walking breaks short.

The habit to check my watch is obviously ingrained, especially as I reach certain points along the path. Several times I caught myself glancing at my bare wrist. My usual turnaround is one such spot, so I can see my time for the first half and see if I can beat it on my way back to the car. Even without a watch, I know that wouldn’t have happened yesterday. As often happens, the last quarter of the workout was the toughest. When I’m in better running shape, I can usually push through it anyway – especially when I channel my inner Chris Carpenter and ask myself how he would handle it. The answer is always the same: he’d blow a bubble with his gum, wipe the sweat away and just keep on going. So, figuratively speaking, that’s what I did. And it helped … for about 30 seconds. I picked a tree in the distance as my stopping point, not too far yet far enough to challenge myself for this last section of running. I tried to think like Chris again. But that didn’t work long either. Wanting to be as competitive as he is, I conjured the image that is very familiar to the Twitter Cardinals girls. (This, of course.) Success! I didn’t even think to check my non-existent watch.

It was a good sense of accomplishment as I reached the tree and started walking. Another day of running, after a week layoff because of sore knees. A successful run and walk without even knowing the time I spent doing either. And, even better, the first day running outside along the river. (Plus another new mind game to get me through the next time I need a motivational boost.) A wonderful first trip back to Ben Butterworth Parkway. Welcome back daylight saving time, spring – and, of course, baseball!



1. Mary Dalmasso - March 16, 2010

Almost makes me want to go exercise – Christine – its a lovely explanation of the river and the ducks and geese – makes me feel like I’m there. I’m proud of you for being so faithful – 8 years – wow that’s really wonderful.

…but what is this Carpenter crap (I’m kidding!!).


2. Christine Coleman - March 17, 2010

Did you click the link and see that picture?? 🙂 But I do like his attitude and approach too.

3. Erika - March 17, 2010

Wonderful blog Chris! And not just because of our Carp pic 😉

4. lsmurphy - March 19, 2010

Fantastic post. Your gift of description shines through. I only wish the Mississippi looked as lovely down my way. 🙂

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