When I first started running, I thought my heart would be my shortcoming. But the heart is easily beat into submission. It doesn’t really get much of a choice. It’s either going to work or it’s not. And if it breaks down, well, then it’s lights out for me. And at that point being able to run or not being able to run wouldn’t much matter. No, the heart isn’t an obstacle at all. The heart’s submissive. There are other parts threatening to put an end to this.
But I’m not ready to talk about the negative side-affects. (Yet.)
In hopes weening myself off of the treadmill, I started running home from work. My decision to jog home helped me get my necessary mileage in for training, it helped me avoid the busy L Train and I was given the chance to see the city (which I discovered is really quite small). Plus, since I work in Midtown and live in Brooklyn, I am able to vary my route. 1st Avenue is less crowded and it runs along the river. And 14th Street feels like a great halfway point even if it isn’t. Avenue B moves by quickly. The Lower East Side spends its minutes wisely; watching its people is an inspiration. They give my mind something to do. And the Williamsburg Bridge is a perfect climax; it punctuates my run. (There is nothing more gratifying than stopping for a drink on the bridge, looking back at the Chrysler building, and seeing where I came from.)
I’m pretty slow. It takes me about an hour to get all the way into Brooklyn. That’s roughly 5.0 miles in 60 minutes (according to http://www.walkjogrun.net). I usually walk home the last half a mile. I take my time. It’s better for my legs and they’re the ones doing all the work.
I picked up a fuel belt, which is really just a fancy looking fanny pack for runners. The need to wear a belt became a necessity, since I need my ID, credit cards, cash, MTA card, cell phone, and house keys. The fuel belt includes four water bottles; they have been a lifesaver when I have needed an extra boost.
For shorter runs of about 6 miles, I fill two of its four water bottles. I fill one up with water and the other with some Powerbar Endurance mix (Recovery mixture shown above). The Endurance gives me an immediate boost of energy but I can’t say that I enjoy the taste all that much. It goes down and stays down. My body doesn’t complain.
People talk about the runner’s high. I never much believed in all that. I used to think runners were stupid, actually. Who would want to do such a thing? There are easier ways to get high. I know now that I was just jealous. Insulting what the unfamiliar is usually a side affect of jealousy. The runner’s high is, indeed, true.
For me, it usually happens right around mile 4. It begins in my lower gut. It sounds weird, I know. But it feels like I have to pee. I think it’s from squeezing my lower abdomen so tightly and for so long. Either way, about five minutes later, my entire body breaks out into hundreds of acutely sensitive goose bumps. Every single pore becomes erect. If I were an animal, I’d be puffy. My ears tickle. My head hums. My vision becomes crisp. I’m no longer aware of my breathing; it’s just taking place. My muscles move without my telling them to do so. I’m lost without thought. My body totally takes over. It’s like those windy nights where the fan in the window catches a breeze and its blades can’t keep up. And, just like that, time actually stands still.
I love that feeling.
Sometimes, after I run, my mood changes. I’m not sure why but sometimes I become really sad. Sometimes, I become angry. And a lot of the time, I become agitated and restless like someone is repeatedly poking my thoughts with a stick. (I am told the agitated state is a telltale sign of over-training. I don’t know what to say to that.) But the most frustrating part, the part that I’m having trouble coming to terms with, the part bringing me to a sports doctor this Tuesday is my right knee. My right knee took a turn for the worse after I began running longer distances. And from everything I have read it’s my IT Band, which can ruin someone chances of long distance running. Obviously, I am unhappy about it but I’m not giving up, yet. Needless to say, I have had some setbacks. But if my heart has agreed to this, my knee will too.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I might not meet my 2500-dollar charity goal But I’m not going to let myself get too down about the money. I’ve also come terms with the fact that my knee might stop me from running this marathon. I’m trying not to think about that. I’ll walk away from this experience with a newfound knowledge about the physical me, which is the part I’ve been ignoring for a long, long time. The body is truly fascinating. I’m inspired by the way it repairs itself, how it answers to each movement, how the organs, veins, bowels, intestines, and lungs come together to form a seemingly chaotic masterpiece. It’s a mad choir, a work of art. And when it comes to mystification it far outdoes the mind. It will humble the most profound thought.
Changes are taking place inside of me that I can’t even begin to explain. Long runs affect my digestive system especially if I consume an energy drink or gel. Sometimes my right knee just won’t work. It just will not move and that bums me out quite a bit. Running directly affects the chemistry of my brain regardless of all its words and knowledge and songs and books that it keeps.
Everyday my mind is surprised by something my body has done. I regularly think, “Did you see that? Did you see what Body just did?” (You should see the post its currently working on.) And I’m amazed that my mind and body actually live together. I’m amazed that they coexist. All my life I have lived at the mercy of my thoughts and emotions. It’s shocking that it puts up with me. What I’m trying to say, Internet, is that my body has caught up with the blades and lately it’s been whispering, “Shhhh, Mind, stop for a moment. Did you hear that? You’re living too fast.”