Monday, January 28, 2013

The Distance Run

It's methodical and cathartic.

It's meditative and inspirational.

And it's an opportunity to dwell on one very simple question:

What the hell was I thinking?

Unfortunately, this question doesn't cross your mind until you've turned around, and realize that that 5 mile run out that felt so fun and refreshing now means a five mile run back. Every step you take is inspired by one simple fact - you can't get home unless you keep stepping.

You visualize the hot shower and queen size bed that await you - cheering you on like over zealous parents at a U-6 soccer game.

Your feet hurt by mile 7, and your legs, well, let's not even talk about your legs. But that's okay, you can keep stepping, and you can tell yourself, really, it isn't that hard, and for a while, you may even believe it. However, there is one simple barrier that can shatter your fragile dreams of an easy run home. A hill. The same hill, in fact, that you jogged down so enthusiastically 30 minutes ago, marveling at how easy it was, and what good time you were making.

So you swallow the despair that's rising in you like an English muffin out of the toaster (when you least expect it, it just pops up out of no where), lean forward, and start trudging up the hill. You pretend like you mean to be going that slow, like you aren't struggling to get to the end, like your legs aren't yelling at you for your overzealousness.  You hope that the cyclists who pass you by believe your game, because you certainly don't.

Then you reach the top, and though your mind says,"Hey, maybe I can keep going," your body yells back, "Over my dead body!" The mind, recognizing that a dead body is not conducive to its existence, agrees, and shuts off, while the rest of your organs work diligently to keep all basic processes functioning.

People walk by, strolling and talking, and you lean nonchalantly against a nearby sign, attempting to look like you're not resting, but you're waiting. You may even pretend to take your pulse, so it looks like you are training for something important and have to diligently keep track of your heart rate while you exercise. Little do they know that you're just confirming that you aren't dead.

But, you can't lean against the sign post forever. Oh no, you, in all your wisdom, decided to go for an afternoon run, and now the sun is sinking lower on the horizon. You have two choices, run home (to your shower and bed), or walk home and freeze your tail off.

That's no choice. You trudge on, telling yourself that the difference between a walk and a jog is a bounce - so you continue to bounce along. Somewhere in your exhausted stupor, you realize you're almost there, and pick up your pace. Well, you feel like you've picked up your pace; in reality, you're simply looking out ahead of you instead of at the dreary pavement that your feet have been pounding for the last hour.

Then suddenly, it's all behind you. All 10 miles are done, and you're standing at your front door. Then your neighbor walks by with a beer and says, "You know? That's what I should be doing."

You take the beer out of his hand, and tip it back. Handing him the empty bottle you say, "No, you shouldn't," and walk inside.

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