I haven’t posted in a while, and in that time I have completed one 18 mile run, and last Friday, a run that was 20 freaking miles long. For the 18 I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it where I live, with all the hills. And I was worried that I would pass out along the way, so I decided to split it into three six miles runs and run the first and last at the gym. Well, six miles on a treadmill is one thing, but twelve is another. Bo-ring! So I ran the last twelve outside. I had an excellent playlist with me courtesy of friends on Facebook recommending their favorite songs to run to. I also had Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on Audible. I had some chewy glucose things that are supposed to keep you going, but really just break up the monotony of all the running. When it was over I was extremely achy but pretty darn proud of myself.
On Friday I ran the 20 miles. Along the way I passed another runner twice, and when I stopped to tie my shoe she stopped to ask if I was running a half or a whole marathon (the myriad little bottles of water on my waist were a dead giveaway). Turns out she is training for the Hartford half marathon which is in a couple of weeks. We friended each other on Facebook, which is what you do when you bump into people on rambling country roads. When I looked at my iPhone, I noticed it was about to lose power. Ugh. I was just about to the ten mile mark, so I ran until the GPS said 10 miles, then turned around and retraced my steps, the last half mile being straight uphill. Haruki Murakami says that every runner needs a mantra. He mentions one in his book, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” which is pretty good. But I can tell you very honestly that as I ran up that last half mile, not having had anything to listen to that might distract me from the exhaustion creeping in and the fact that my feet were on fire, my mantra was, “Fuck this. Fuck this. Fuck this.” Whatever works. I did it.
This week is a pretty light schedule. My longest run is twelve miles, and I’m running it on Friday. It’s really crazy that a twelve mile run is kind of no big deal at this point. I’m actually enjoying the training. There is something very freeing about being able to run long distances. It slows you down considerably, to the point that you notice things you would fly right past in normal non-running life. For instance, the most common form of roadkill I see are snakes. I see some chipmunks, not too many, and some frogs. But I see a lot of dead snakes. Snakes are everywhere. On Friday I also saw a pretty yellow bird that was dead in the street. It wasn’t squashed flat, but sort of lying on its side with its feet in the air, which made me think that maybe he had a fight with another bird and the other bird tossed him out of the nest when he wasn’t ready. Your mind wanders when you run for a long time. There is also a very calming thing that happens, not when I’m running, but after, when I have been completely drained of energy, and there is nothing left inside me but the feeling of muscles that have been overworked and finally resting. I picture all the tension and aggravation in my life being left on the road like a vapor trail, and when I’m done I am clean and shiny and new and good. Except I’m a sweaty mess covered in sticky glucose from those chewy things.
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