Satisfaction. It's something I've been thinking about on my last few runs. Until today, the last few weeks worth of runs have not been inspired, particularly enjoyable, or brilliant in their execution. I was never graced with the effortlessness and ease with which we tend to associate "fun". Fun is eating a bag of Peppermint Patties or any movie featuring Seth Rogen. Except for those elusive days when running is effortless, there is nothing intrinsically fun in pounding out miles. What I'm finding, though, is that the definition of fun, for me, is ever shifting and that what to some may seem like torture is enjoyable and gratifying.
My shifting definition of fun has learned to include the gasping for air that comes from running a 15% grade hill, at running so hard into a stump that I piss on myself, on the feeling I get when I get back to the parking lot and my legs have entered the early stages of rigor. Fun is sitting on my bed with ice packs on both legs from the knees down for 20 minutes when I get home, from the first few painful steps out of bed the morning after a long run. It is the combination of exhilaration and panic when I'm hammering a downhill as fast as I can and that feeling of quads doused in gasoline and set alight at the bottom of that hill.
But fun and satisfaction are two different beasts. On a day like today, when the temperature is 45 degrees, the sun is out, and the trail is slowly filling with gold and amber leaves, when my breathing is right and my legs feel invincible, when my GPS watch fails and I run 7.5 when I think I'm running 6.0, these are the days that the satisfaction is in the journey, in the instant and possibly cheap instant gratification that comes from things that have come too easy. I'm thankful for days like these, I really am. Days like today are anesthesia, but anesthesia is only a thin veil over what really matters. No warm lull of opioid anesthetic can compare to the miles that want me to quit. They are long miles not in their number, but in their discomfort. They are "praying for this to stop" miles that make every foot fall feel like an injury. They are the days of rain and ice, of poor nutrition and lack of sleep, but they are the days that matter most. It's easy to run when the sun is out, the air has a crisp bite to it, and the ground looks like a golden carpet, but it's the run where nearly every cell in your body is telling you to quit that keep me breathing.
Another quotes from French Novelist (and apparent crazy man) Leon Bloy:
"There are places in the heart that do not yet exist: suffering has to enter in for them to come to be."