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SLOW MORNING RUN CAN KNOCK LOOSE LIFE'S STRESSES

I love to jog along Bayshore. I go in the mornings, usually leaving my house by 6:30 a.m., and I run the same 3-mile route most every time.

Smiling and saying, "Good morning" to the walkers, cyclists and other runners I meet along the way, the endorphins from the exercise, as well as the camaraderie, always leave me in a better frame of mind and ready to face the day.

Jogging along Bayshore is also my time to clear my head and sort through life's stresses. On these runs, I've come up with resolutions to work quandaries, family challenges, and I have even found ideas for my writing.

Some of my greatest inspirations have come while jogging. It's amazing how a concern that may have been plaguing me for days is suddenly solved somewhere around the time I cross over Gandy and approach the bay's edge.

I'm a slow runner - my best-clocked time ever is 10 minutes, 30 seconds per mile and a typical day finds me at an even more leisurely pace. Now and again, I end up walking the last part of the 3 miles as I circle back through the Ballast Point neighborhood streets. My less-than-stellar athletic performance used to bother me, but no more. I don't run to win races or to be competitive.

I do it because it's good for me and I enjoy it. I love to be outside in the fresh air, admiring how the bay and sunrise appear different every single day. I keep an eye out for the mullet jumping, and once in awhile I'm lucky enough to spot a stingray or even a shark on the prowl. Earlier this week, I actually saw three dolphins swimming about in the bay.

I only go jogging once or twice a week. My workouts on other days come from weight or yoga sessions at home while watching the morning news. Neither of these is as rewarding to me as my early morning Bayshore runs. Now and again I'll see a newbie jogger struggling to finish his route. I remember how tough it can be starting out, and I can relate to the notion of having no desire to put oneself through anything so torturous again anytime soon. To these folks, my advice is this:

Hang in there. It gets easier and a whole lot more enjoyable as you go. Take it at your own pace. Don't worry about the man who's 30 years older than you and is passing you like you're standing still. His agenda isn't yours, nor should it be. Do it because it's good for you - physically, mentally and spiritually. Do it because Bayshore offers such a beautiful route to run along. And do it because, sooner than you think, you really will come to enjoy it!

Michelle Schumacher lives in Ballast Point.

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