Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FEBRUARY 6, 2010

It was 17 fucking degrees when I started this morning and the sky was gun metal grey. It was my first run outside since the end of November and the first since I'd fucked up my achilles a week and a half ago. Having never run in weather this cold I wasn't sure how many layers I should wear so I went with 3 layers up top and a pair of Under Armour compression tights and shorts on the bottom. Upper body: perfect. Lower body: not so much. I'm pretty sure I may never be able to feel my balls again but it was totally worth it. I run a much slower pace on the treadmill and it seems to hurt my achilles and knees more than running outside. It's counter-intuitive but this reverse logic has defined my life. A Jeff Galloway article about running in the cold suggested walking for 5 minutes, then doing 1 minute of jogging/1 minute walking for 5 minutes, and the jogging/walking in a 2:1 ratio for 5 more minutes and then start your run. It seemed to work pretty well this morning, despite the freezing cold balls, and I could feel all of the anxiety, tension, and doubt of the last few weeks falling away. I'm constantly afraid of losing my job, afraid that some other piece of my broken body will fail me, and afraid that the relative peace and stability of the last 8 or 9 months will collapse upon me. This morning that all went away. It was me and some ice fishermen out over the Reservoir purging demons in our own very private ways.

When I first started doing this I didn't really care what the setting was; shitty treadmill, shittier highway, or fairly isolated dirt road. As long as I was putting one foot in front of the other nothing else really mattered. It's possible that it didn't matter because I was more focused on completing the mission (finishing Philly) than worrying about how I got there. That approach also assumed that running would never be anything more than a punishment, another means to the same end I've tried to reach for the last decade. If it were only meant to hurt, to build while breaking, then it wouldn't really matter where the fuck I ran so long as it was painful and fulfilled the prescribed amount of miles on my training plan. But that changed, and it changed rapidly. It became more important to escape the treadmill, more important to run during the isolated and isolating early hours of the day, and far more important to be surrounded by water, trees, and very little traffic. Reservoir Road did that for me. 1.6 miles out, 1.6 miles back. Back and forth, again and again. I knew exactly where the pavement started and stopped, knew where the edges of the road canted downhill, knew every step of every hill. All of it began to matter. It mattered in the heat of the late summer, mattered when the leaves began to turn, and mattered most when the temperature hung just above freezing on my last handful of long runs.

I suppose even more has changed since I ran Philly. I'm feeling more at peace, I'm not missing Manhattan in quite the same painful way that I have for the last 6 years, and I'm actually starting to appreciate being outside. I know how funny that may seem but I have spent most of my adult life indoors. I hate the heat of the summer time and have always welcomed the cold grey of winter. I think I've always loved the wintertime at least in part because it didn't make me feel as guilty about wanting to pull down the shades and go to sleep during the day as a warm sunny day would. When the glacial depression hits I want nothing more than to disappear and the healthiest way I know to do that to force myself to sleep. This feeling is, however slowly, fading from my life. I'll still whine about the heat and humidity of July and August but this time I'll use them as motivators, just as I've used the cold and rain to motivate me. There's something about stepping out of the nice warm car into the pouring fucking rain and wind that makes me feel like the animal that I fundamentally am. It makes me feel alive. Any run feels better than not running but the days when mother nature is uncooperative make me feel more alive. I suppose this relates to the endless conversation that my shrink and I have had over the last few years. It usually goes like this...

"Todd, you don't always have to live at the extremes. There's a middle ground that you've never experienced. It doesn't have to be right in the middle, just not something that puts you at risk".

"I understand that Susan, but this is all I know. If I'm not over stimulated I don't feel anything at all and I'd rather suffer the repercussions of a life off the rails than not feel anything at all".

So the cold, rain, wind, distance, heat, etc. make me feel more alive and make me feel more alive in ways far more healthy than ways I have sought out in the past.

Jesus Christ, did I get sidetracked. What I was getting at is that I think I want to run even further away from people than I already do, both literally and figuratively. I'd like to find some trails and am thinking about running a 10k trail run at Bear Mountain in New York. The idea of not seeing another soul while I'm out, of not thinking about cars and traffic, makes me pretty happy. As soon as my achilles stops gnawing at me I think I'll head deeper into the woods (note to self: you do NOT need new shoes for running trails. You're not an ultramarathoner, not running Pikes Peak, not running the Vermont 100. Really, you don't so just stop it).

FEBRUARY 7, 2010

So I went out on a recon mission this morning and found a few trail possibilities. The first is a rail trail on fancy Ridgefield, CT. It's 5 miles out and back run with mile markers. Not exactly trail but at least I don't have to worry about getting run over. Another option is a tangle of dirt roads in the Ridgefield farm country. There are some huge fucking hills but for the most part it's still pretty smooth. It's similar to where I did my training but the scenery is much nicer. There are MASSIVE horse farms, beautiful fields, and beautiful old houses. My last option is to run behind the horse farm next door to where I live. I've been told that there are horse trails that run all through the woods behind me. Most of them are supposed to be somewhat overgrown but I can stomp my way through.

"Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude-they were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race".
Herb Elliott Olympic Champion/Poet

No comments:

Post a Comment