20. A running post.

The morning had snuck up and surrounded me before I knew what had happened. Just as my dream was getting interesting, a noise startled me awake and it was already 5:15. “Ughhhh,” I moaned as I rolled out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom.

I pushed my plush sleeping mask clear of my line of vision and squinted into the gray-green light of pre-dawn. Maki, Panther and Dave were moving around in the rest of the house and only the ceiling fan made any noise in Bill’s room. My mind was trying to remind me of something important, but my sleepiness confused the little logistician who ordinarily runs my life.

As I stood up from the toilet and thought about my hydration levels, the logistician slammed through the woozy fog: “Hydrate for your 20-mile run! HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRate! HYDrate! Hydrate! hydrate! … hydrate! …” The water hit the bottom of the glass and began to drown out my inner logistician as it filled. With several slow gulps, a rush of fluids began bringing my systems to life. Not quite ready for full wakefulness, I shuffled around until I found Dave, kissed him good-bye and clambered back into bed for another 30-45 minutes’ rest.

Though my mind was willing to return to restfulness, the water was working its way through my system. I lay on my back and listened to the gurgles and slooshes as my abdominal section twitched below my hands. Before the alarm sounded, I rose and began donning my running gear. Sports bra, softest training shorts, tech-T with best wicking ability and brightest colors (to keep me visible to the pazzo Sicilian drivers), cushy but breathable socks. I slid the body glide up and down the lines of my inner thigh muscles and under my sports bra. Then, I crept upstairs for my pre-run snack.

Munching on my snack, I reviewed Google maps images of my neighborhood and surroundings. “Naw, I’ve run that path before.” “It’s not even 10 miles to Milo? WHAT?” “crap, where am I going to run…” “maybe I will just run 18, or even 16…the benefits kick in after two hours anyway…” Thoughts swirled in my head as my body waited for one more void before heading out. My body knew the work and punishment that awaited it out on the road, and my body was ready for it. My mind knew well the challenge that lay in wait around mile 14-15, and that would become stronger and more difficult until the end of the run. My mind was less ready, less-than-thrilled, and less eager to depart.

Depart I did, and ran a haphazard route to knock off the first 13 miles. Lacking gear to take sufficient water, I looped back to a stashed bottle and headed up the mountain. My mind dared to doubt its own wisdom of taking on the 500 foot climb at mile 13, but my body shut it up good and quick by doing the deed with no pain. Pain set in at 14.5 and never left me again. Its effects waxed and waned, to be sure, and kept my mind busy for the last hour of my run.

As I approached the home stretch – the last two miles – a smile spread across my face. No amount of zippy cars, crotchety old Sicilian ladies, confused stares, steep hills, wandering pathways, or smelly garbage had kept me from my run today. No mental barriers succeeded. Even if I walked or crawled home from that point, I would have met my 20-mile goal for the day. I was as free and liberated as if I had just been born. I glanced down at the Ionian Sea, barely perceptible for the brilliant sheen it acquired under the strong morning sun. “I am free.”

“I am free.”

“I have the power. I am capable. I am free.”

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