I may fall and break my hip soon. Tonight I ran 3.05 miles here in Albany right as the streets were beginning to become slippery with freezing droplets of rain glazing the concrete and cement. My sneakers–which I hope to retire soon–are coming apart but they still have some treads left on them and so I was able to get through the nastiness on the ground without taking a header into something real hard. The coldness came on quickly. It’s been warmer here lately and the temperature may have dropped five degrees while I put on my well-worn sneakers.  I noticed that the further I ran, the harder my rain-soaked hair became. It was nice.

When I weighed in I was 192.6, which is about a pound more than the same time yesterday. For Lent, I’ve given up a few things (although it’s only Ash Wednesday). One of those things is weighing myself on a daily basis. I gave myself a 20 pounds in 20 weeks goal and I have until nearly mid-May to achieve it, which I know I can do. It feels much easier than before. I’m thinking more positively before and dealing with the fluctuations much better than I have ever done. Add to that, I’m eating better. Things feel good. Even on a miserable freezing rain night such as this.

I weighed myself before a good four-mile run. I am 211 pounds. I understand why it is so hard to lose weight now. I eat when I’m bored, anxious or perhaps said. The last two days I’ve been asking myself the question, “what am I feeling” when I begin to feel hungry and I am finding more and more an emotion ease that coincides with and perhaps causes a feeling of hunger in me.

Rather than submitting, there may be other things to do. Who knows. I’ve been pretty steady at 211 for the last three months, occasionally dipping up or down but rarely far below that. I’d like to be at 209 by the end of the week and you’d better believe that I’ll weigh myself this upcoming Sunday.

One thing I haven’t written about which is quite odd considering that this web log is supposed to be about self-improvement (hence the name) is my recent running challenge. About a month ago I believe I wrote about how I lacked the passion I used to have for running. Whether I’ve gained my elan back or not, I’m a running fool lately, having challenged myself to do 100 miles in 40 days. I’m 25 days in and have done 64 miles altogether, which is the equivalent of about 2.5 miles per day. Some days I’ve run only three while others I have done as much as six, so I haven’t run every day. Some days I have a good stride with a quick pace while other times I’m speed waddling, a mess. Regardless of how fast I’ve gone, I have reaped some of the benefits already which include a more relaxed and positive outlook throughout my day, an easier time sleeping at night (although I’m still not doing too well in that department), and smaller troughs and turnaround time in my sour moods and anxiety. That’s not to say running will save my life, but it has made things interesting and challenging to say the least. I weighed in at 208 at the end of last week, which is still much to high. At this time last year I was 224, so there’s some good progress there. It’s early morning here in Albany and I have gone for a run, three miles to be exact. Hopefully, I’ll finish my goal within the next two weeks. When I was 21 I did 100 miles in 30 days! Perhaps that could be my July 11 – August 11 goal….hmmmm….maybe not.

It’s really hard to call myself a runner. Runners are generally skinny people who wear aerodynamic, tight-fitting clothes. I’m a stocky guy with some extra baggage around my mid section. When I run, it’s more of a joke,…errr…I mean a jog and I’m almost always wearing a pair of baggy lacrosse shorts or something else around my thick legs.  The shirts that I wear are generally speaking beat up, worse than anything you’d find on the Goodwill Industries rejection shelf. Nevertheless, with my MP3 player in hand, I’m pretty happy when I’m running.

One morning in the summer of 2004, I was very anxious and unable to sleep. Waves of panic crossed over by body the entire night. When I finally was so scared that I was descending into a depressive cycle (as I do from time to time), I put on my beat up running shoes and darted for a dawn-time run down to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn. When I returned home, some time after 5:30 a.m., I was at peace and relaxed. Not only had I seen the first glimpses of sunlight reflecting off of the harbor but I’d managed to do some of my most fervent praying I’d ever done; honest and fluid and helpful and hopeful. There are moments in all of our lives in which we can feel a type of synchronism to life around us and being and that was one. I have been running a lot lately and will soon put on my shoes to go again but lately I’ve not bothered to take as much stock of the world through which I run. Although running is heightened state, there really is no reason one can not be mindful as he pounds the pavement.

Today I finished a graphic novel–if you want to call it that–that I started months ago in attempt to calm down and relax myself. I had read a few chapters of it and put it away and then revisited it today. Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi is not really a narrative on anything, but glimpses into the life of a young man who walks through the streets, parks and seaside docks of his city, which is somewhere in Japan. We do not know the name of the main character but he is accessible as a calm, clear and curious soul who with his dog, finds great stimulation in the idiosyncratic way that life unfolds, from watching strangers walk through the streets, children playing soccer or people shopping. The main character can best be described as mindful throughout, and although he has nothing of the sort of conflict we expect in narrative, he is revealed as a man who slows his life down in the moment, finding pleasure in the things we take for granted.

Released several years ago, Walking Man is a sensational book to relax with. Staring into the pen and ink frames, I became surprised at how much Taniguchi captured of urban living. He must be a very observant man, for our main character takes stock of the things that are taken for granted.

I loved Walking Man and I look forward to trying to do more of what is actually quite simple: being present in the moment, observing and living life to its fullest.

It’s not my ideal weight. I would like to lose 25-30 lbs. more. Actually, I’m quite overweight, although I may not look it.

In June 2006 I weighed in at 224 lbs.

In November I was down to 219. I’m now lower than that. I was at my lowest weight in February when I got down to 207 after some diligent healthy eating and mindfulness practicing.

Right now I really don’t know what to say. I feel like I can do it and should do it. I don’t like being overweight. It’s kinda gross and I feel a lack of energy in comparison with how I felt in my early twenties. Let me tell you that it took a lot of focus and effort to relearn how to play hockey this fall and winter at more than 25 pounds above the weight that I had last played it at in high school. Nevertheless, ice hockey did help me to lose some weight.

So, for tomorrow I’ll be running again across the Dunn Memorial Bridge, which connects Albany and Rensselaer, New York. The run takes me north about a mile toward the Amtrak bridge which carries passengers East-West. It’s a good run, slightly less than four miles or maybe exactly four. I’ll try to measure it out.

Tomorrow’s menu includes a tuna fish sandwich and a salad with smoked salmon in it. I think that diet is pretty lean with dark rye bread and green tea, which I find to be very relaxing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

How often due you get to hear Fought in a War by Belle and Sebastian, Rick James’ Mary Jane, Lonesome Ornery and Mean by Waylon Jennings and Ja Rule’s poignant It’s Murda in a row? Not often. But you can when you run with an MP3 player. At one stretch during my run tonight down to Hackett Boulevard in Albany and back, I listened to those songs consecutively, which is somewhat strange considering how totally different each song was. Like I said in my last post, running isn’t fun to me like it used to be and I can feel the weight I’ve gained over the last six years, but it sure beats the hell out of being sedentary. A speed walker was moving at just maybe a slightly slower pace than I (I overtook her while running down an incline on Manning Boulevard). Regardless, I’m done and back where we all sometimes want to be: the couch!

I used to love to run, but in recent years–as my waistline has grown–I have ceased to enjoy the feelings it gives me. I’m not sure why, either. I like to be alone with my thoughts, particularly when they are not the chaotic ones that are brought on my life’s stresses and a weird neurological disorder that I have which causes repetitive thoughts to cycle through my mind over and over again.

When I lived in Brooklyn I used to love running from my apartment on Bay Ridge Avenue down to the waterfront, where I would make a left towards the grand Verrazano Narrows Bridge which connects Staten Island to New York’s most cozy borough (I really miss that place). I loved the smell of the ocean water and the site of boats whipping by or giant tankers lumbering in and out of the harbor. Cars raced by at high speeds, but I, running maybe 6 mph, felt even more powerful during the four-mile run. It helped to calm my frustrations, my anxieties and put me at peace. One morning in mid-July 2004, awakened for several hours by panic attacks, I put on my beat up sneakers and headed for the massive gray bridge. Eastward dawn sunlight illuminated the water as I ran, and when I returned to my apartment, sweating and breathless, I was calm and dozed off for several hours in peace.

Now, running is harder. Despite purchasing an MP3 player (which I’ll discuss in another posting), running is hard still. I feel tired easily and I don’t get the same satisfaction I used to get from pounding the pavement. It’s depressing. I’m trying to think about it and figure out why that is. Have I become so serene I can’t run or is there a restlessness inside of me.

I used to be spotted during college breaks running down Kenwood Avenue in my hometown of Delmar, New York. I was a running fool. Six miles, four days a week, sometimes in 96 degree weather. I loved the feeling, sweat-soaked, drained of worry and fear, relaxed. Even running 100 miles on a treadmill during the fall term of 2000, I couldn’t capture that exhiliration.

I’m noticing things are changing, but I feel a confident insight into why and a feeling I can regain my elan again. I hope so. I’m putting on my sneakers in an hour–as soon as the rush hour traffic dies down–to run for an hour or so. My body deserves it, but my soul craves it even more.