Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week Two Complete

Well, another week has flown by at Oxford. This week saw the heating up of classes both at the University and in the Stanford House, the beginning of new social and dining adventures at my affiliate college (Corpus Christi), and more adventures (and misadventures) with dining than I'd like to admit (as my last post enumerated!). I've been getting closer to people in the Stanford House-- something I find difficult naturally-- and have been getting to know some pretty amazing people. I've had my first department meeting, handed in my first tutorial paper (even though I wasn't technically supposed to!!), gone to Ahmed's, and tasted strawberry beer (an experience! Though not one I'd particularly like to try again). In general in other words, there were a lot of things to be really pleased about =)

But there were also some definite low points to the week as well. A fun weekend day trip I'd planned for myself to watch some National Hunt Racing turned tragic when a horse fell at the last fence right in front of the grandstands and ended up having to be put down right there on the field. I was deeply, deeply saddened by this tragedy, and so spent a lot more of the rest of the weekend missing my own horses and feeling very far away from them (a feeling I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping in check so far) than probably was productive. I was so happily surprised though at the compassion and friendship my housemates showed me, staying in with me on Saturday night even when a dance was on, offering me homemade brownies, and watching many hours of Friends reruns with me without complaint. I couldn't help but feel pretty darn lucky. I'm feeling much better now, though I know that I'll never forget that day, and will never not feel saddened by it.

In a serious upside, the past week has had one particularly outstanding characteristic: I've been running! Now, I used to do a fair bit of running in high school (I never made the top 7 in high school cross country but was consistently the first or second JV runner and could hold my own throughout New England in that division, running 5k in the mid-21s in my prime), but had a pretty abysmal senior year season--combining injury, anemia, and a psychotic misogynist coach-- that I was pretty sure would put me off running for life. From November 2006 to a week ago, I've gone on no more than 3 runs. Total. And I can really only remember 2, so the third one might be a dream. I certainly haven't been out of shape, but running simply has not been part of the equation.

Now enter Oxford, where suddenly I've been very far away from my most frequent form of exercise (riding). Feeling already the ominous expansion of my waistline as a result of too many delicious British sweets, not to mention a brain-frying amount of excess energy that I usually spend burning off slowly over the course of a few hours in the barn every day, I realized I had to do something. The Stanford House pretty much directly borders on a lovely (and dead flat) mile and a halfish loop through Christchurch meadow, and I had tennies and shorts, so I decided to give it a try.

And wow, I've actually been enjoying myself again! I've now gone for five runs, twice as many (if we're splitting somewhere between 2 and 3) in a week as in the previous four and change years combined - pretty amazing!! I'm pretty out of shape but not as bad as I'd feared- I can chug around the loop in fifteen minutes or so, and on some days when I'm feeling a little perkier I can push the 20-minute barrier. These sort of wussy time standards are a definite readjustment from high school (where any run under thirty minutes wasn't even considered a workout), but goodness am I having a good time. The running has cleared my head, pumped me full of endorphins on days I was feeling a little more low, and given me better energy already. Plus, I never feel more positive about my riding than I do when I'm running-- something I should definitely remember for the future!! I don't have any real goals but would love to keep working up until I can string together a few miles more comfortably. I've been going every other day but this week hope to upgrade to a 2-on, 1-day-off system. We'll see! And hopefully I can also start playing squash again soon - soooo excited =)

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