This morning my legs played me false, heavy as wet cement, holding me back from making any time progress over Wednesday’s 12:00 (came in at exactly the same time today). On the other hand, I stretched my not-break-stride distance to the crosswalk after Aston St (just beyond the sign that points down Chester St to the Seventh Day Adventists and the playground) (by the way, if you’re visiting Oxford with a view to exploring the exotically-named ‘Adventure Playground’, you may want to prepare yourself and your friends for the possibility that although the ‘Playground’ part of the name is undeniably apt, it is not necessarily a more ‘Adventure’-ous playground than many you could visit). Step by step, pushing forward to Stanley Road!
I’ve seen two lovely examples of aural spellings this morning.* The first comes from my cousin Adele in St Croix, who saw a sign that reads
‘Home of the Famous XXX Margarita — only $1.50 — WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINTED HEART.’**
The second came from someone’s FB comment thread, wherein a comment on the US President’s legal affairs referred to ‘torte reform’ — a slip that turns out to be pretty common (both deliberately and inadvertently), but which is so sweet I had to record it here. Plus, Margaret is on her way home from Chester and I’m about to order a smoothie and slog through some translating — so this infinitesimal slice of the world is pretty good at the moment.
* There may indeed be other explanations for these misprisions, but the point is the effect, not the ætiology.
** Evidently if you crave margaritas, especially the XXX variety, St Croix is the place to be.
When I started my training for ministry at Yale Div, I wanted to move as rapidly as I could past the tedious readings from non-canonical sources that Richard Hays and David Lull assigned for NT Introduction. Yeah, yeah, yeah, C. K. Barrett’s New Testament Backgrounds; when will we get to reading the New Testament itself? I was generally acquainted with Judaism from having grown up in Squirrel Hill, and I had read philosophy as an undergraduate, so I reckoned that I didn’t need these background readings. I think I wasn’t the only one.
Then in my S.T.M. year I took classes on the Second Temple period with Lee Levine and David Tiede, and Hellenistic Backgrounds from Abe Malherbe and my vision of the New Testament exploded — I could see so much more when I read the texts in their wider literary, theological, cultural contexts. And I understood why my first-year lecturers had wanted me to read before I presumed to write essays and sit exams on the New Testament.
And now, I urge my students to acquaint themselves with Judaism of the Second Temple, with the Mishnah, with Josephus, with Stoicism and Cynicism and Epicureanism, with Lucian and Dio Chrysostom. And I know how impatient most of them will be with that urging, which makes me a bit sad; and I know that some will take my advice, which cheers me up.
Readers may well have doubted that I would, in fact, start running on Wednesday mornings as well as Sundays, but my poor showing three days ago impelled me to try again this morning. The sound of rain at 4:00 AM, and my expectation of chilly weather, combined to damp my ardour for getting back on track; and as I laced up my trainers I felt my legs go all leaden. Nonetheless I strode intently to the door and launched a mile run.
The good news Part One is that I pushed my ‘didn’t break stride’ distance a half block to Aston Street. In many ways, this is the most important bit of the whole exercise for me: If I can, when I can eventually go the whole mile without breaking stride, times will take care of themselves. These were often only baby-running-steps, but they kept up momentum, and I pushed further (Aston St is more than a third of the whole mile). The good news Part Two is that I regained almost thirty seconds over Sunday, clawing back to a clean 12:00.
I still don’t like running. I still affirm Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers’ adage that for every minute you spend running, you add a minute to your life (such that if you eschew strenuous working out, all you miss is the time you would have spent working out anyway). But there’s a lot I have left to do, including making sure I’m there for Margaret as long as I can be, so hammering this weary flesh into somewhat more functional condition is probably worth the effort.
Since the last time I ran was… 21 days ago, one would only expect that I fall back significantly on my comeback run this morning. Alas, I lived up to expectations. This morning’s time was 12:28, a full minute slower than when I left off in December. Disappointing, but since I hope to ratchet up my runs/week while on my term’s leave, my time should drift back toward the times I was setting a few weeks ago.
My amateur analysis of the run puts down the slower time to (1) breathing and (2) freezing weather. My wind was far from the efficiency I worked up to earlier, and the frigid weather doesn’t help a bit. My legs, though leaden, weren’t what slowed me down so much as my need to gasp for air at intervals. On the positive side, I didn’t break stride until about a block before my past best landmark, which feels reassuring. We’ll see how Wednesday goes, assuming weather permits.
As constant readers may recall, last week Oxford experienced the heaviest snowfall of the recent past — certainly since Margaret and I moved to Oxford, and (we were told) for at least a couple of years before that. I didn’t venture out for my weekly constitutional, since (a) the pavements seemed likely to be slippery [as it turns out, they were slippery] and (b) my running shoes have a hole in the right foot, and if I hadn’t slipped and fallen, I would certainly have developed a case of Cold Wet Sock.
I expected, then, that this week’s adventure would mark a setback, and I was technically correct. My time this week was 11:28, a few seconds off the pace of a fortnight ago. On the other hand, I pushed my ‘didn’t break stride’ mark another half block (to Aston Street, for those of you keeping score at home) and I didn’t feel especially stiff or extra-winded. This week wasn’t an upset (over the forces of indolence and bad weather), but neither was it a disappointment. And although I expect to miss another couple of runs over the holidays, I am actually looking forward, a bit, to Hilary Term and running on Wednesday mornings as well as Sundays.
Not as cold as last week (somewhat to my surprise, since yesterday was freezing). This week my breathing held me back; my legs — though by no means very strong — held up pretty well, but I was gasping throughout. Time was 11:20, I think.
By the way, both of the last two weeks I made it to the bus stop past Henley St before I broke stride.
11:24 — cold day, no part of my body wanted to run, but the time was good anyway.
Last week I neglected to post my result — I was in a bit of a rush to get to Morning Prayer, and I was frustrated by how the run felt (my breath was shallow, still, and my legs were leaden). Last week I ran my mile in 11:42, at about the best I have done in this experiment.
This week I didn’t break stride until I’d run four blocks (by far the best I’ve done — last week I barely made it three blocks) and didn’t feel too bad all along, and I managed the last block on the run without breaking stride. In the end I ran my mile in 11:22, a very encouraging time indeed.
I knew this was coming — a slow day, drifting back to 12:03. This was the coldest morning I’ve run, so breathing was tighter; moreover, my legs were leaden. I kept a moderately steady pace, but slow.
This week, 11:43 — my legs were heavy, but I can tell that I am walking a smaller proportion of the mile than I had been, week on week.
Yesterday morning’s run/walk was good; I came in at 11:50. My legs felt mostly all right, but I couldn’t breathe as well as I’d have liked. Still, progress, and I’m not complaining about that.