It’s Saturday morning. I’ve turned my alarm off because I’m sad and tired and don’t care. I lie in bed and note that it’s raining–hard–and think how maybe I’ve slept enough to actually do sort of a long run. I go open the shades and scowl at the rain pouring down. I think about runners I know who would not run today; Scott in particular would have flatly refused. I’m annoyed that he has crossed my mind, so I scowl some more.
Now I am definitely running; I get my shit together. It’s pouring–like sheets of water dumping down pouring. I set up Garmin while splashing down the driveway and onto the road, determined and surly. There is no sidewalk but I don’t care. I run right through the torrents of water gushing alongside the roadway. It’s icy cold and rises past my ankles in sections; I fun faster. An oncoming car splashes me; I laugh.
I haven’t even gone a mile when my clothes are soaked completely through. There’s something about running when it’s gruesome out. Maybe it takes more focus and more determination and I have less brain space in which to feel sorry for myself. Maybe it proves what I’m made of–if I laugh in the face of torrential rain and chaos, how can I fail to pull through the storms of my own life? I hope my heart is half as tough as my body.
After a few miles I find the high school whose track I wanted to investigate. I run past ball fields and parking lots, around the side of a building to the football field complete with track. It looks good, but all the gates are locked. I roll my eyes and round the perimeter, running in the grass. Past the main entrances the fence is short–I sprint up and vault over it, proceeding right onto the final 100 metres. Nice surface; I can put in some good work here. As I approach the back half I see where actually there is a big gap in the fence, which is handy in case someone wants to be weird about a runner using a track for its intended purpose sometime. I make a lap and a half and run out the gap, up a hill, into the woods and back out through the parking lot. The rain clears slightly and a bluebird flies over my shoulder to perch on a lamppost. I have generally observed a hawk to be present when I’m taking an inaugural run around a new high school track; I ponder whether this change in totem might be a good omen.
Sidewalks are in really short supply for the entire 10+ mile loop, but who needs sidewalks? Once I cross a bridge and have a brief flash of desire to hurl myself off of it, but otherwise my run goes well. It’s wet and splashy, and I am exploring. The passing traffic is minimal and I only flinch when two ambulances scream past, sirens blaring. Apart from the cars I don’t see another soul outside. My 100 minute run takes me perfectly back up the driveway, which strikes me as fortuitous. I grin with glee and raise my arms, sailing over an imaginary finish line.
I carefully stomp around before the door and take off my muddy shoes prior to going inside. Everything is neat and orderly as I left it, which feels like a beautiful relief. I strip off my wet, muddy clothes and startle seeing myself in the mirror; my breasts and belly are bright red. It can’t have been that cold out; I barely felt it. I turn on the shower, step under the water and shudder–it feels biting on my skin. It seems to burn my ass, which I notice is cold to the touch. I shower for a long while before I feel sort of normal. When I sync with Garmin Connect I note the average temperature on my run: 32F.
Later in the day I pick up Christian to go to the pool where I trained last winter while the stress fracture kept me from running. I loathed nearly every moment I spent swimming–we’re really going for the hot tub. But I figure while we’re there I might swim a few laps just to see if I remember how. Christian goes to the sauna and I pick a lane.
With both feet healthy, there are no crutches and I don’t have to pistol squat to clear the pool deck with my injury. I shudder a little getting into the water and then breast stroke to the end of the lane, flip turn and keep going. I pause very few times, mostly to unfog my goggles. I nail every flip turn and even my freestyle works magnificently. I don’t take in a single lungful of water. There are no panic attacks. No startle responses to anyone or anything. Having already run today, I’m not bitterly wishing I were running. Actually, I’m in flow; it’s downright fucking meditative. I swim back and forth, back and forth enjoying all the cool shit my body will do for me. When I’ve been at it for 40 minutes, I figure I’ve almost worked out enough for one day. Almost.
I breast stroke to the far end, flip and dive below the surface, undulate from my hips and then fly out of the water, whipping my arms overhead. My butterfly is smooth and rhythmic, fast and glorious. I’m panting as I finish the lap and flip, and I laugh while recovering with one more lap of breast stroke. I don’t check to see if anyone watched my showing off; that was just for me.
Christian and I relax, talking and laughing in the hot tub–and then we eat. I consume a totally normal amount of food, and that night I sleep the undisturbed sleep of a satisfied athlete.