Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You Go Out For A Run (in the second person)

You so don't want to run. All day you've been at work thinking that you wanted to run, but now that you're home and free to go, you so don't want to. Your body is tired. Your ankles are creaky. Mostly you're just in the mood to sit down. On the couch. For the night. You could order pizza and probably spend the evening there. It sounds so good. You stare at the couch. The cushions form into lips. "Come to me," it says. You sigh.

Your wife asks why you're staring at the couch. It takes a minute to remember where you are. Who you are. What you're doing. You shake your head and say, "nothing." And then, you hear yourself say, "I'm going out for a run." Your wife says that's fine and tells you to enjoy yourself.

Enjoy? Yeah, right. Your body is too old today to enjoy running. You haven't had enough water. You didn't eat well enough. You have too few excuses to avoid the run but enough to persuade anyone it won't be any fun. You go over those reasons as you strap on your GPS watch and set it to find the satellites. You're distracted staring at the watch and when it finds the signal you notice, regretfully, that you are standing at the end of the driveway.

Damn it.

You hit the start button and since the watch is running you might as well go. You head out on your regular running route. Nothing feels good. Your calves are tight. Your ankles really do feel sore. Your legs are heavy and already you're breathing hard. It sucks to be over forty. You're too old for this. Your watch tells you that you've covered a quarter mile.

It's a perfect day for a run. Warm enough in March that you're running in a short-sleeve tech t-shirt, shorts and no shoes. You've been waiting for a while to get out barefoot in warm weather and here it is. You should be loving this, but half a mile in, you still can't find your gait. Every step is like trying to write with the wrong hand. It's just not natural. You really think that you should stop and walk or turn around and head home. Even the wind is pushing against you. Like the couch, it wants you to go home.

You tell yourself you'll do 5K. You're tired. This is a good chance for a recovery run. No need to go longer. So you press on against all good reason. Then, you turn right instead of going straight to the turn around. You tell yourself that you'll just go around the parking lot, but then you're behind Manley Field House and the Carmelo Anthony Center. You'll just go to the other side of the lot and circle back to the turnaround. You're too tired to go farther. But then you're running up the driveway to the crematorium, setting up a four-miler.

What is wrong with you?

Now it's two miles you have to run back. You curse yourself because you're still not feeling the run. It's still all foreign.

You run back toward home. You pass a friend's house and wave to her as she stands talking to her friend. You look down at your watch and see that you're back to a 9:20 pace, the thing you've been working toward for a while. You wonder when that happened. And how. Your legs still feel tired, but the form which should have fallen apart is coming together. You hold the 9:20 through the last mile and a half.

You stop the watch and walk the last hundred feet to your driveway. The watch says you've run 4.39 miles. You stand, breathing hard, and have one clear thought: that was great.

Write on.