|The Weird Run|
The first few blocks feel lousy, weird. You ate before the run. You feel it and it doesn’t feel good. Neither do your legs. You take inventory: right ankle sore and weak, both knees creaky, breathing forced and labored.
The past few runs, you’ve met people and stopped to talk. Then, running again, you’ve felt great and your form has been perfect. Maybe you’re trying to impress or there’s something to that warming-up idea and you should try it. You think about stopping, but if you stop now when you’re also contemplating quitting… You keep running.
As usual, you have no idea where you’re headed. You’re going down Meadowbrook toward S.U. Maybe you’ll turn at the end of the park and run to the high school for an easy, flat 5K. But you haven’t done Skytop in forever. Is that five or six miles? You can’t remember.
You’re leaning toward Skytop. Sure, you did five yesterday, but you’ve shaken the bugs out now and don’t feel so weird. You’re running easy, keeping the heart rate down in fat-burning range. You’re breathing well. You think, I’m sure it’s only five, and head around the back of Skytop.
Across from Manley, you see a tall, stringbean kid. He wears huge headphones and faces a sign post he’s holding with both hands and sings really loud. To a signpost or maybe God. There’s a lot of alleluia and praise his name in there. You run past. He doesn’t notice.
A hundred feet on, two women approach. You shrug and say, “I’m not sure what’s happening, but he seems harmless.” One smiles. The other purses her lips and shakes her head. You keep running, turning to see if he notices them. Nope. One woman’s perfume lingers. You wish you could smell it all day.
Crossing Ainsley you know you’re in for six miles and wonder just how stupid you are, but you feel good. Weirdly good. You keep going.
At the Skytop hill you downshift. If your heart rate exceeds 132, you have to walk. You hate to walk. You keep a steady pace all the way up. The watch never goes off. You’re a stud.
Over the top there’s a mile downhill and now it’s a game to keep your heart rate above 122. You pick it up and imagine you look like a runner or something. You scan your body, surprised nothing feels sore or too tired. You whisper, this is weird.
Back down on Meadowbrook you pass your friend’s house a mile from home. You’re tired now, but really moving. You keep going toward home, turn at the corner, and run to the stop sign. You stop your watch and walk the block and a half home taking inventory: legs are tired but good, ankles are strong, breathing is easy. You’re happy and content.
What a weird run, you think. You’re smiling and wonder how long that’s hung on your face. Just the last block or for miles? You nod and think, tomorrow I’ll keep it short. Sure you will.