I set my alarm for 5:45am.  I was going to get up early and be at the park by 6:30… yeah I snoozed the alarm several times until 6:30.  Waking reluctantly, I let Beanie out to take care of business, and fixed a large glass of water to help me wake up.  Regretting not buying bananas while at the store over the weekend, I settled for my water and let Beanie back in.

He was wild.  Turning in circles he urged me to move faster. Despite our week’s break he seemed to know that today was a walking day.  I slowly pulled on my athletic gear, layering up for the early chill that I knew would soon burn off with the rising of the sun.  I slowly tied my shoes, pulled my upside down hair into a clip and athletic headband, not worrying so much about it’s appearance, but more about not scaring my fellow exercisers on the path.

Beanie’s agitation grew with each step I took as I dragged myself out the door to face the brisk air.  We loaded up and headed out, forgetting my gloves.  Upon arrival at our favorite park, I knew I was going to want those gloves and more.  I zipped up my sweatshirt, pulled my hood up, and buried my hands in my pockets.  I would miss some added exercise by not swinging my arms, but I hoped that the rising sun would raise temps as my walk progressed.

We had our usual stilted start, Beanie bounding from bush, to tree, to trashcans.  Finally he settled into the rhythm of the walk and trotted on.  I tried to focus on nothing but the sound of my steps.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. I had tied my right shoe a little loose but didn’t feel like stopping to fix it.  I was clearing my mind, focusing on the repetition and trying to push out the concerns of the upcoming workday and other worries.

I read an article yesterday on WebMD that had led me to this new “Zen” mission.  It was Blissing Out: 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress On-the-Spot and I was determine that my walk would be my meditation for the day.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie pulled on the leash, wanting to linger at the drop off for the doggie bags.  I pushed on.  My mind wandered, I brought it back.  Relax your toes, relax your shins, Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.

We were already around the back side of the park, I knew my pace was a little slow, so as I came to one of the gentle slopes up I pushed a little harder to speed up.  I have never been one for speed walking.  My aunt often complains when I walk with her about my slow pace.  I enjoy the walk too much, she pushes to sweat, burn, and get done.

Focus Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  My calendar loomed in front of me (a calendar that is giving me problems with my blackberry right now) and I began to plan out my time working at the local coffee shop, and when I would have time to write this blog.  Then I jumped to what time should I take lunch.  I was not meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  I cleared my mind, and before I knew it we had made the first loop.  Beanie strained wanting to head up to the car, but I urged him on.  I knew the second lap was hard for him, it was hard for me.  I was going to start slowing down, my breathing would get more labored, I would most likely begin coughing towards the halfway point.

We got down the path and Beanie made several attempts to turn me back to the car.  4 times he turned 180 degrees and walked as far as the leash would allow.  I reigned him in and locked the leash at a closer length until he gave in and dutifully trotted in front of me.  We had reached the back side of the park again. I wasn’t meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie’s bag dispenser slapped haphazardly against the leash.  The roar of a bulldozer for a nearby road expansion came rolling into the park.  I saw a bench up ahead.  It looked like a cozy couch in my mind.  I pushed on, picking up the pace despite my labored breathing.  I began to wonder how many people ever actually just sat on that bench and enjoyed nature.  I decided it got much more use as a stopping place to stretch, tie shoes, or check a pulse.  No one sits on benches in parks anymore, except for old, slightly overweight white men, in political thrillers.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  We were easily halfway, I pushed on and pushed all thoughts but my pace out of my mind.  The coughing began.  I knew I should have taken my allergy pill before I left, but hindsight is always 20/20.  I pushed on, letting the coughs come, but trying to not let them slow my pace.  We neared the edge of the woods, and a waft of cigarette smoke caught me.  I coughed some more and wondered who would want to smoke at a park.  I had only seen people exercising like me, who combines that with the cancer sticks.  I never did when I smoked.

I turned back to my shoes. Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  Push on, almost there.  Beanie decided to stop for one last gift to nature.  We were almost there, the home stretch.

At last we finished, I deposited Beanie in the car and his present in one of the special receptacles placed around the path.  I threw some trash away out of the car as I was near a trash can.

We had done it.  We were both out of breath and wanting water and I hurried home to satisfy our thirst.  It had been a good walk.  I felt renewed in my goal to be starting Couch to 5K in another 2 1/2 weeks.  I decided I should come out over the weekend and take a leisurely walk, maybe even check out the cross country trails in the park that beckoned me as I passed their trailhead markers.

Meditation, check minus.  Sense of accomplishment, check plus.