One Month: Bird Watching and a Swan Song (for now) – Charleston Gazette-Mail

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Updated: September 5, 2022 @ 6:16 am
Six years and countless adventures after launching “One Month,” Bill is stepping out in a new direction.

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Six years and countless adventures after launching “One Month,” Bill is stepping out in a new direction.
Running through Kanawha City on a Sunday morning, I became very aware of where my feet landed.
The walkways along the edge of the rows of parking lots rose and fell. Parts of them were cracked. Parts were crumbling.
I had to navigate past trash, loose gravel, and the occasional crumb from a recent fender bender.
Meanwhile, cars were coming right at me on MacCorkle Avenue, and pulling out of side streets in residential neighborhoods.
It was the furthest thing from a peaceful run.
Traffic was light, but I felt exposed and certain I was going to stumble out into street, trip and end up as the hood ornament on a pickup truck.
Nothing about this run felt good. I’d started later in the morning than I’d planned. The temperature outside was warming up, but I still needed to run 12 miles to keep up with my marathon training plan.
I’d chosen to run through Kanawha City just to switch up the scenery a little.
While formal bird watching hadn’t gone anywhere, really, I felt like I was making some progress with the marathon training side project. My weekday training runs were now mostly five miles each, and it wasn’t a struggle.
Nevertheless, I’d spent the past week actively looking for birds, both during my regular training sessions and while I was out and about. Along the river, I’d spotted ducks, the usual Canada geese, as well as grackles, a couple of turkey vultures hunkered over a meal, and what I believe might have been a great blue heron passing overhead.
I’d seen a couple of those last summer at Stonewall Resort and maybe Cedar Lakes in Ripley, where I’d watched the bird fish from the shore. It had watched the water, spotted a fish and then darted into the water to grab it before flying away with a meal that seemed too large for such a lanky bird.
At home, just robins, cardinals and the occasional woodpecker.
I never saw the young owl I spotted earlier in the month.
My lesson from bird watching was a familiar one – patience and time. Finding birds to look at is easy. Just put a feeder out front of your house and wait. You’ll see birds whenever the local squirrels leave the feeder alone.
Seeing new birds takes more effort. It’s a lot of mindful observation, not just idle watching.
Long-distance running, however, was teaching me all kinds of lessons — like everything costs something.
As I was leaving the YMCA one afternoon, a personal trainer friend of mine named Brad asked me how the running was going.
I said I was managing.
Then, off-handedly, he said it was too bad about the muscle-mass loss.
This went over my head until I got to the parking lot.
That couldn’t be right.
I chewed on that for about a day before asking Caroline Price at CrossFit WV about it. She’s a trainer at the gym and a runner.
Caroline acknowledged that I would lose some strength and mass because of the kind of training I was doing.
Horrified, I said, “I don’t want to get weaker. I’ve worked so hard.”
She nodded, sympathetically, and said, “You need to work out based on your goals.”
My goal was to run a race. I needed to focus more on cardio and less on weightlifting. Slimming down for the marathon wasn’t a bad thing, but sure, there were big and strong guys out there who could run long distance.
“But some of them are taking things to be big that they shouldn’t,” she told me.
Caroline told me during daily classes to take the cardio-leaning fitness programs instead of the more weight-focused sport workouts.
“But I like doing the sport workouts,” I whined. “Those make me think I’m cool.”
Caroline nodded. She was well aware of my capacity for self-delusion, but again reminded me to look at what I wanted to do.
Later, another trainer named Tanner gave me insight on why I was going to shrink over the next couple of months.
“You can’t really train endurance and strength at the same time,” he said. “Yes, you’re going to lose some muscle mass. If you look at the guys who run marathons or worse, they’re all skinny.”
“Bags of bones,” I said. “I don’t want to look like that. I want to be cool and look like a Navy Seal.”
Tanner let that slide, even though we both knew my chances for looking anything like a Navy Seal sailed away a long time ago, but added, “Navy Seals don’t run a lot of marathons.”
Tanner told me my body would adapt to the mileage. Losing the extra weight would make the running more efficient and there was a silver lining. Once I cut back on all the cardio after the race, my strength would likely return. I might even see a jump.
The turnaround point for my 12-mile run through Kanawha City turned out to be at the far edge of Kanawha City, just before the turn-in for the International House of Pancakes.
I made my turn, looked for traffic and waved at the nice people who didn’t run me over, and then slowly followed my footsteps back to where I started.
I managed. Next week, I’d have to get to 13 miles and then 14, the week after. I could hardly imagine what 20 miles would look like, let alone 26.
My running and training toward that marathon will continue, but “One Month at a Time” will be closing down — at least for a while.
In May, I took a job with West Virginia Public Broadcasting as the producer for the show “Inside Appalachia,” a radio magazine about Appalachian culture, arts, music, food — all kinds of things, really.
Accepting the position was a big step outside of my comfort zone and taking it on is a bigger honor than I deserve, but the job arrived just when I felt like I needed a change in my life that lasted a little longer than 30 or 31 days.
Living and writing this column has been one of the great pleasures of my life. It is not an easy thing to step away from it, but after six years, now seemed like a good time to try something different and do some other kinds of writing.
I plan to keep writing about my marathon training, but I’ll do that on a blog. Nobody should have to pay for that.
As I sign off, I’d like to thank everyone who followed along during these last half-dozen years. Thanks to everyone who cheered me on, offered help or turned me around when I got lost (which happened a bunch of times).
Thanks for reading about my little misadventures and letting me have the weird, but wonderful privilege of trying to entertain or distract you for a couple of minutes every week.
It has meant the world to me.
So, let’s not say goodbye, but see you later.
Bill Lynch can be reached at 304-348-5195 or
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