A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
Late nights are not the best times to make decisions, but surprisingly that’s when I make the decisions that push me the most too. Those split second, foggy minded, why the hell not decisions are how I’ve reached a new level in my running. I am officially signed up for ilovetorun.org’s 1000 miles in 2016 challenge. I also signed up for the 100 miles in January challenge. So much running and such scary mileage. This year-long goal is almost twice what I ran last year, my first year of actually running. Another late night decision was to actually sign up for the free half marathon Mainly Marathons was offering. I signed up for the Dust Bowl series half in Lamar, CO and I’ll run it the day before Easter. I’m already signed up to run the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in San Diego the first weekend in June too.
The goal setting piece was easy, but now I have to follow through. I have to actually log the miles and follow the training plans. Running has to become a major commitment. It means 5 AM mornings and putting aside that feeling of unease of running in the dark. It’s icy runs and windy runs right now. So far this month, I’ve run 68.3 miles, which I find absolutely astonishing. I’m on pace to finish my 100 mile challenge for January on January 31st and I still have almost two months of crazy half marathon training after that. This is the easy, slow beginning of low mileage half marathon training month. What is this madness?
Unfortunately, the pleasant and continuous surprise that running offers me does not mean that I do not hit a wall occasionally. This week there has been an air of dread hanging over my running. My body says no. My legs say this hurts. My lungs say we’re thinking about coming down with a cough. My motivation has packed its bags and I haven’t convinced it to come home yet. Part of this may because I’m feeling a little overwhelmed at work (so much grading!). Part of it may be because I’ve never pushed my body this way before and it’s revolting. All of this adds up to a very convincing argument, but it hasn’t won yet. I still go out and log my miles. I mix up my routes and listen to some wonderful podcasts, but sometimes the dread still hasn’t left even when I come home at the end of my run. There is no relief from this oppressive and annoying weight of “I don’t want to.”
My parents always told me that I had to pick a sport for the year when I was in elementary and middle school. I did swimming for awhile and I was good at it, but I also remember that my parents had to carry me out of the house kicking and screaming and holding on to door jams because I didn’t want to go so badly. I got older and I tried tae kwan do. I was an upper green belt, but eventually my parents got tired of convincing me through my tears and my angry shouting to go to practice twice a week. There is a trend with this strange anxiety that builds in me and ruins things I enjoy. My mom would ask me what was going on and I never knew how to explain it, but sometimes this dread of going out and doing some physical activity literally makes my heart feel like it’s going to stop. I feel this awful feeling in every muscle, bone, and nerve, but I’m by myself now. There is no one to carry me out the door kicking and screaming. There is no one to coax me through my tears and shouts. There is no one except me doing battle with myself on these days of horrid dread.
Adult me realizes how much I love this sport, this running. It has become a sort of meditative practice. It’s a moment that I take to myself in which I can think whatever I want and go wherever I want with only the power in my own two legs. There’s a glorious feeling of freedom that comes with every one of my runs. When the dread seizes up in me like some gray plague, I know that my own willpower is stronger than it. I know that the memory of a great run is all I need. It may not be easy and it may be slow going, but I can move myself out the door and onto the streets. So, cheers to the hard runs and the hard weeks because I know it gets better and that I’ll be grateful I came out the other side on my own two legs, ready to pound the pavement once more.
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No One Here But a Writer Who Gets Up and Try
Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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New York City based photographer STEFAN FALKE visits artists who live and work on both sides of the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region for his ongoing project. All photos and texts © Stefan Falke (No use without written permission by the author)