“I always loved running... it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” ~Jesse Owens
“Jogging is very beneficial. It's good for your legs and your feet. It's also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.” ~Charles Schulz, Peanuts
“There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.” ~George Sheehan
I ran a four-mile race in 1999 and then two weeks later, injured my knee, so my running progression ceased for many years. I did try to run from time to time. I guess I always had this idea about running a marathon. I know it tears the body apart, but I’ve done worse things to my body in my lifetime, and my life kind of functions with the relentless of a marathon, so I figure I’m cut out for it. I love the idea of pushing the body as far as it can go. I mean, I went all weepy when I watched the previews for that documentary on those guys who swam the English channel as part of their midlife crisis. Our life is the body. The body stops moving and disintegrates after we die, so I want to live in the body as fully as possible in this short little lifespan.
I do believe in life ever-lasting, which is eternal, and I’m not sure what the body will be like then—no one really is—or if I’m too prone to selfishness to escape the fiery gates of hell (did I feed the hungry or just my own belly?), so I’m going to try and make the most out of this body, the life I currently know.
Last May, I started running (jogging) again. I tried to start slow, as had been recommended, but I became impatient and tried to add more distance, more time, too quickly, and I believe that put my body into shock because it started packing on the fat even though I didn’t change my diet at all.
So, then I started from scratch, using the Couch-to-5K app on my Iphone, which I love. It has so much more faith in me than I do. I’m on week 7 of the 9 week program and it thinks I can jog 28 minutes, and you know what? I can. Though it has the false notion that I can jog 5K in 30 minutes, which, you know what? Not yet. After the 9th week, I’m going to work on my pace until I can jog a ten minute mile and then start doing longer runs one day a week, until I can run a 10 mile race in Big Sur in April. This may involve some weight training as well, since it will be way more hilly in Big Sur than it is along the creek here in Merced.
I was a pretty inactive child, though I craved activity. I guess people just didn’t think I could be in books and also have a curiosity for athletics, so I was never particularly encouraged and somehow didn’t know how to become athletic on my own. But here I am, 45 years old, becoming the athlete, little by little, that I always wanted to be.
Also, because readers may be curious to know, since I haven’t mentioned him in awhile, I have a much more kind and tolerant view of X-man these days, and I will say, that he sometimes went jogging with me and was happy to slow his pace down to mine, and seemed to really enjoy just having the company on his jogs. It’s so easy when a relationship ends to keep looking for the negative memories; it’s somehow easier to reconcile an ending when one can see the negative. It’s much harder to reconcile an ending when there was so much positive.
All I can say is that right now, I’m meant to be alone on the path, listening to my footfalls, watching the sunlight reflect off the creek, sometimes listening to some pre-made Pandora station on my Iphone or my new favorite band, Farewell Typewriter on my Ipod, listening for basslines I can imitate and learn from. I’m meant to be alone with my running, with my re-making myself. I am becoming.