“Wherever it leads, I’m runnin’ down a dream”

31 Aug

Last week’s runs were extremely discouraging.  I don’t know myself as a runner yet.  I was having a difficult time getting past 4.5 miles – a block that was entirely mental.  One of my running friends suggested running on either main or country roads so each block would be a mile, and I could run straight out and back to push myself past this block.  After all, once you turn around, you’re out several miles and have no choice but to run back.  Maybe I could have made this work if I knew how my motivation works with running.  I don’t, and I’m too far removed from those days when I was new to swimming and figuring out how my body and motivation worked within the confines of the sport.  I tried the out-and-back method, but failed to account for the effects of the oh-so classic midwest winds on straight roads.

Lungs burning, gasping against the wind for any air I could get, and cursing every last driver that stared at me as they drove past I only made it through 2.5 miles before I had to alternate walking one block and running four or five.

The truth of the matter is, it was being stubborn that pulled me through several runs last week.  I was discouraged and hating every step, but I hated the idea of stopping before I should.  It effectively sucked all the fun out of running.

 Last week.

Last week I thought, why the hell did I agree to run a marathon?  I can’t bail…I won’t bail…but what was I thinking?  The notion that I liked what I was doing was bludgeoned out of me but none other than…me.

One of the biggest obstacles I’ve encountered throughout this process of learning to run so far is that my best runner friend lives a state away.  Email encouragement only does so much.  How lost will I be in Ukraine, transplanted into a culture that for the most part doesn’t run outside of gym class?  My running inspiration and great friend will be across an ocean rather than a state line.  Sometimes I wonder what I’m missing out on by not having a running partner.  At times, this lack feels like a major sacrifice.  Then again, how much worse would it be to train with a running partner or group, only to be forced to yank my mind away from this support when I leave for Ukraine?  There’s a very real possibility it would be enough to stop me from running altogether.  So on off weeks, I grit my teeth and push through my solitary runs.

This week however, something miraculous happened.  I’m not the kind of person to drop negative energy and start anew, nor am I the kind of person to tell you I did to make the story more interesting.  As far as I was concerned by last Sunday, I was done running.  My running shoes had been condemned to a life of lawn mowing, and that was final.  Come Monday evening, something made me lace up my shoes and step out the door.  I didn’t want to run.  I wasn’t trying to make myself believe I wanted to run.  Without thinking, I just went to the gym and ran

and ran

and ran — five miles.  My longest run to date.  Sure, the Monday night football helped, but I’m still trying to understand where that urge to keep putting one foot in front of the other comes from.

I have a particularly vindictive inner voice.  Runners battle their inner voices; particularly good runners can quiet this inner storm.  Mine doesn’t fight fair.  If I run faster it says, “Just think how much more things are jiggling now!”  If that little voices is a hill runners have to overcome, mine feels like a mountain…with frequent rock slides.  I think it deserves its own diabolical name, it’s that pushy.  Any suggestions?

My first noteworthy chip in this inner rock face came the other day.  All I wanted to do after work was get home and sit on my butt.  I had fought a migraine all day, but I had also looked up inspirational running quotes and half-heartedly written a couple down.  Finding myself in the middle of lacing up my running shoes, utterly clueless how I got there, I managed to keep the momentum going and drive to the gym.  Keep in mind, the gym is literally one measly block from my house.  Ironically, my laziness came in handy.  I had forgotten the gym closed at the horrendously early hour of 8 pm on Friday nights.  Typically being a 9-11 pm gym rat, an entire summer hasn’t been enough to cement in my mind the fact that other people don’t find late gym hours appealing enough to keep a workout facility open that late. 

I could have driven the block home, but I drove to the park; there was a football game and no parking spaces.

I could have given up the hunt, telling myself I had tried, and gone home.  I parked on the street.

And ran.

Four miles is how far I ran, though that little voice suggested stopping at two, then subsequently that three was more than enough for one night.  Four miles with two sprints mixed in and not one block wasted on walking.

Sprinting down the sidewalk, head held high, lungs aching, legs spinning until they started to feel weightless — this must be why people run.  Though only for a minute, my negative inner voice was quiet.  The people staring at me from their cars and yards didn’t matter.  I felt strong, but mostly,

I felt giddy.

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One Response to ““Wherever it leads, I’m runnin’ down a dream””

  1. Sven 9 September, 2009 at 12:25 #

    Rock on! Running to me is such a personal thing. There is no one to blame, but yourself for a bad run. However, the victory is all yours. Hold on to those moments.

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