Running Far

Yesterday I tried to run 18 miles. Usually I run with my friend, but she was in Vermont for the weekend, and I wanted to stick to my training plan from Hal Higden. I was running in Franklin, NH on the Northern Rail Trail Route. It was absolutely refreshing to be making my way through a tunnel of brilliant green new leaves. I’ve been running on this trail for the past month, and it’s been fascinating to watch the color progress to it’s current intensity.

The sun beamed down on me, and I felt great in my intergalactic blue leggings and black sports bra (small note of success: I finally found the Livi Active which provides adequate support). At mile 8 I was feeling energized and thinking positively about running. I listened to my music, I whisked away the miles. I thought about my upcoming trip to Minnesota, friends there, friends here, my zine. I ate gels every four miles, and kept sipping on my waters that I carry on my belt. At one point I was even dancing, but it probably didn’t look like dancing to anyone around me. More mental dancing. The trail followed the old railroad leading West toward Lebanon, and beyond that, Vermont. The river on one side, a small lake on the other, little farm houses in the woods, a dam on the river, a sign about the old mill that used to be here.

Unfortunately, by mile 10 all my enthusiasm had sweated off. By mile 11 I was walking and by miles 13-16 I was hobbling back to my car. The pain in the arches of both my feet was unbearable. A few tears were shed in the writing of this blog entry because running some days can be really damn difficult.

It feels like every time I’m mentally in the right place to run, my body is not there. Or conversely, when my body is there, my mind’s not. And so we go around in circles.

Even if I don’t end up competing in the race, I’ve run further than I ever have in my life this year. Sixteen miles is no small feat! I’ve now know how to fuel my body for an endurance sport, and I’ve been able to push myself to confront some inner mental barriers, mainly that my body is bigger than a lot of other running bodies. And I maintain very hairy armpits. I used to think these things mattered.

I used to think I could let cultural norms determine how I perceive and access my own power. Now I know my power is there. I can access it whenever I want.

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Kerouac and Getting the Miles

  1. deliberate, glad, solitary
  2. Isn’t this the time now to start following what I know to be true?
  3. covered with pink now
  4. just too crazy
  5. Desolation, Desolation, I owe so much to Desolation
  6. mad raging sunsets in seafoams of cloud
  7. people are utterly free
  8. Buddhaland splendor
  9. my knowing was the knowing that the substance of my bones and their bones and the bones of dead men in the earth of rain at night is the common individual substance that is everlastingly tranquil and blissful?
  10. home again
  11. Oh ever youthful, O ever weeping
  12. Ain’t you kinda old to be a college student?
  13. worked incessantly
  14. unbelievable horizons
  15. I picked myself
  16. I was as nutty as a fruitcake and happier
  17. wild lyrical drizzling rain
  18. the taste of rain
  19. everybody knows everything
  20. God, I love you
  21. Though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious

So…..if you can’t already tell, I’ve been reading Kerouc. These are all snippets of his book Dharma Bums. If he were alive, I would totally be one of the girls who followed him around and tried to sleep with him. He’s dapper, dark-haired, and emotionally unavailable…a true man of mystery.

Last week I learned that I need different shoes to run on the road than I do on the trails. Since mid-January, I had been training for my marathon on the roads because the trails were covered in snow, and ice, mud, and then more snow, then back to mud again. I was wearing new trail runners. When my achilles began to hurt on both heels, advice from more seasoned runners was BUY NEW SHOES! I hemmed and hawed. A pair of new shoes would be half my paycheck! I stopped running for two weeks.

After reconnecting with a few dear friends one weekend, I remembered my commitment to myself. Run the race. Run the race. Run the race. You can run the race! This afternoon I trotted a hilly seven miles, and I’ll get up to ten this weekend. I want to test out a new dirt road in Sandwich that was featured in Runner’s World. It’s supposed to be quiet, and long.

The Gauntlet: 13.1 in County Kerry

This weekend I ran the Gauntlet, the pilgrimmage/race/torture device of a half marathon. A winding road led up into the white mist of a sunny morning. I passed 5 deep blue lakes, the winding River Loe connecting them, and went over the Wishing Bridge which I forgot to wish on. I slipped between 2 of the tallest mountains in the country, 1 Gap of Dunloe, and descended and ascended the 8 miles of the Black Valley.

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“My heart is quite calm now. I will go back.” ― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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Heading Into the Black Valley. “When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.” ― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
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The 150 people crazy enough to run the Gauntlet standing at the starting line. I had no idea what I was in for!

 

When I stood at the top of the Gap of Dunloe, I wanted to yell out to my sister or my mountain-loving friends and family about the clarity of a blue sky and green valley after emerging from the depths of the Black Valley. But my only option for conveying my thrill of the moment was the hot water stop guy. So I threw my runner’s high with him in a stream of consciousness, ecstatic exclamation while gulping down warm water from a plastic cup.

photo courtesy of The Gauntlet
The site of the water stop encounter at the top of the Gap. Photo courtesy of The Gauntlet

 

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“Don´t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. Just get out and do it. You will be very, very glad that you did.” ― Christopher McCandless