My gosh, that month went by fast. A trip to San Francisco and a holiday just take the weeks away. Despite the Tumblr-gap I am still running—this week will be the official half-way mark of our training and I’ll run 6.5 miles on Saturday. My donors have pledged almost $900 for ACS! Almost as astonishing as those figures is the fact that I’m not too worried about running 6+ miles. I know I can do it. At least, I know now, sitting here on my couch, that I can do it. Talk to me at about Mile 2 on Saturday and I might give you a different answer. Or I might just give you the finger.
You see, for most people, running triggers lots of bad psychological behavior. Not acting out, necessarily (although…if you run on a narrow trail, don’t claim the whole darn path like a diva, please…), but bad behavior in your own psyche. There’s a mind game going on inside every runner’s head, especially once we get into these longer runs, and that game is like having a knife fight, on a tightrope, with yourself, in a monsoon.
Probably it’s nothing like that. Sometimes a run has no inner drama at all. You run for a while, compose some emails in your head, plan out dinner, maybe fantasize about looking great while you cross the finish line in February…and you’re done running. That’s a good day. Other days, it’s a roller coaster through your own Freudian mangrove mess. In the course of a few miles there’ll be ups (“What a great day! I’m kicking ass!”) and slumps (“Only 12 minutes? What the f**k?!”) with lots of rationalizing (“I just didn’t eat right last night”) and obsessing over some little body pain (“My god, that knee is ruined.”) On rough days the run has its own little narrative arc, its own epic sweep, taking you from the early, happy days of the first mile, into the first signs of trouble around the first quarter, then down down into the crisis of the mid-point and the Battle for the Survival of the Future of Man through the third quarter, until, at last, some epiphany, or some story you tell yourself, or some humiliating frat boy passing you with a sideways look, or some pack of attractive dog people lounging in the dog park…something…fires up those reserves of energyprideragelustvengencepassion and you power through to the end. Slap. Slap. Slap. High fives all around. Nice run, everybody. Nice run. Felt good. Good feeling.