Thursday, January 9, 2014

Nike Flash Run: my favorite Christmas gift

A few days into my first week up in Washington for the holidays my sister asked if my mom and I wanted to participate with her in the Nike flash run in downtown Portland. Nike has line of “flash” running gear that lights up at night under the glare of headlights, and created a nighttime run during which the community could sport their flash gear. The run would take place in multiple locations around the world with the goal of encouraging physical fitness through the holidays.

A Nike Flash jacket reacting to the camera's flash

Boy it sounded fun. Back before living in this body of mine became an unpredictable adventure, I’d have pulled on my Nike running gear in a quickened, excited heartbeat.

But since I got sick 3.5 years ago, I’ve had to be cautious, limiting myself in ways I didn’t used to, trying not to overdo it. I went running a couple of times last spring when I first started to experience marked healing, but I pushed my body too hard and had a difficult relapse. Since then, I’ve stuck to non-running activities while I continue to gain strength.

I’m thankful I can be active in the year-round sun of Orange County. My delight at once again having a body that can move and produce endorphins and recover from physical activity still hasn’t faded. But I love to run; running has been central to my life for as long as I can remember, and my spirit aches when I can't do it. When I first ran last spring, after years of not being able to, I felt like a fish thrown back in the water. I felt me-er than me. It's been hard to navigate so much of my twenties without the joy of running.

And so, it was with a mixture of great trepidation and hope that I decided to take a risk and do the Nike flash run.

And you know what? I did it! All 4 miles, plus a little bit more. 

I felt grrrreat.

It was a beautiful, warm-ish night: the steady thrum of Washington rain miraculously stopped, and the trees twinkled happily.

The course had us weaving our way through downtown Portland. Every now and then we'd turn a corner and encounter a fun surprise Nike had planned, like an African drum troop, or a college drumline. Pulsing street beats were the name of the game. 

A little over halfway through the run we stopped at sports stadium that I should know the name of because I grew up here, but do not know the name of because I have forgotten all the names of things in my childhood stomping grounds. Early Onset Dementia. It's a scary thing. 

The stadium was grand and professional. While there, we did some strength training exercises and stair runs. 

After our stadium exercises we stopped for a bit to stretch, and enjoyed a Nike-sponsored fireworks show over the stadium scoreboard. And then we were off to the races again.

Throughout the run, we had to wait at stoplights a number of times, which provided a nice opportunity for rest and recovery. It was the perfect way to ease into a 4-mile run.

The last stretch of the run was along the river before we wound our way back into the heart of downtown to the finish line where we formed a tunnel and cheered the rest of the runners to the victory. 

And then, just like that, it was over. 

Until three days later, when I went on a run/hike, and two days after that when I went on another run, and three days after that when I went on another run. So I guess it was a banner holiday season. And I'm tempted to vacillate between planning a running regime for the next four months and worrying about causing another relapse, but I know better than that now. Instead, I've been trying to live in the present, listening to my feet pound the wet asphalt, watching my rhythmic breaths turn to puffs of steam in the cold air, reveling in the moment because I don't know when my body will allow me to do this next. And it's a good Christmas gift, learning to live in the moment like this.

Hoping for piles of happy moments for you today and the grace to enjoy them, my friends.

Happy Thursday!



  1. Have you ever heard of L-Glutamine for muscle recovery? It is an amino acid and commonly used by many body builders after workouts. However, it can do so much more. It is commonly used to help repair leaky gut syndrome and is often given to patients after GI surgeries. I love running, and train and run long distances. About 5 weeks ago I began taking L-Glutamine (NOW brand, powder form) after my harder workouts. I believe it has helped me recover faster. Just thought I'd pass that along in case you want to Google it. Go glad you are able to get out and run. Running is such good therapy for me--it helps me organize my brain. Blessings, Sharon

    1. Hi, Sharon,

      I've never used L-Glutamine, at least not that I know of. I may have in college, back when I drank, with exhaustion and desperation, whatever my coaches handed me after practice. I'll have to investigate it and see if I can take it with all of the other things I have to take. Thank you for passing it on! Google, here I come!

      I wonder if you are a rhythmic learner? I've found that doing rhythmic things, like running, helps me to organize my thoughts, too. Then again, it could just be the firework show of running-induced endorphins that gets the ol' brain firing on all cylinders. ;)

  2. That run looks like a lot of fun! And the stadium is Jeldwen Field now :) It was PGE Park until somewhat recently. (I live in Portland and grew up here.)

    1. So the mystery is solved! PGE Park sounds familiar, now that you mention it. I wonder why they changed the name of such a large city landmark? Sure does make things even more confusing for the frazzled and space cadet-ish among us. ;)

      Thanks for solving the mystery, Jenny!