On Saturday Mr. M and I completed a run that has pretty much crippled me (almost three days out at that.)
In preparation for Tough Mudder – a race we’ve signed up to participate in this June, we’ve been ramping up our training sessions and pushing ourselves harder than normal when it comes to our workouts.
(We’ve also signed our lives away just in case either one (or both) of us croaks on the course. If any of you have anything to tell us between now and the 23rd of the month, speak now, or forever hold your peace.)
He’s been focusing on running longer distances, and I’ve been working on building strength and gaining speed.
I’ve always loved to run far. I’ve just never like to sprint. What’s the point in going all out (or pushing your body to failure) when you have 10+, 15+, 20+ kilometers to cover?
The only time I could really do that was with a finish line in sight and the entire course length at my back.
But like I said, I’m moving (slowly, but surely) out of my comfort zone.
Saturday morning broke cold, but the air lacked the chill that has defined these long, past winter months. The grey sky spackled by coal coloured clouds, dripping fat drops of rain onto my ponytail, on the peaks of my cheekbones, and in between my eyelashes.
I put on, and took off my toque three times before leaving it behind.
We ran a quick 4k up the (continuous) hill to New Westminster Secondary School’s track. It’s a fabulous surface – soft, spongy, with enough bounce and give – well maintained and well visited on that murky, moody morning.
We ran three 100m all out – my lungs on fire, my legs like jelly, my arms flailing like two propellers, free falling, faltering.
Sucking in air to cool down my screaming brain.
It had been so long since I ran like that – I don’t remember the last time I gave until there was nothing left to give.
A young boy, running laps, while his older brother skulked around the soccer pitch in the middle of the stadium, stopped in amazement and yelled out “WOW!” as M and I tore down lanes six and seven.
You should see how quick M is – he is the Road Runner, or The Flash – all burned rubber and singed tail feathers.
After we finished at the track, we completed the rest of our 10k loop. Our pace was very fast – sub 4:30 per km. And believe you me, by the end, the loop had finished us.
My earliest running memory is from about the age of four. I am at a park with my family: my mother, father, and two sisters.
The summer breeze ripples through the weeping willows, dandelions poke their sunny faces out of the uncut grass and I am tearing around the periphery, again and again, like some pint-sized Orestes, keeping my furies at bay.
Having challenged my parents to a footrace, one, two, three, four times, they eventually, gently, encouraged me to run a lap on my own, so they could catch their wind and perhaps formulate a plan on how to deal with their budding long-legged lollopper.
One lap turned to two, two to three, and they practically had to tie me down when it was time to go home.
Speedy Gonzalez my father would always call me.
Ariba Ariba! I’d reply, before attempted to dash off, barefoot and wild-eyed to complete another tour of my make believe stadium, for make-believe admirers, and fans.
When I was eleven, my father began taking me out for runs with him, down at Jericho beach. Summer mornings spent running the gravel path between the “nice” concession stand and the start of the hill leading up to UBC, trying to match my stride to the easy flow of my father’s.
Every day trying something new, maybe running a little farther or sprinting a little faster, trying to control the rhythm of my breathing and becoming comfortable with the beat of my heart.
We watched Chariots of Fire together. I analyzed the men as they sped around the school courtyard, racing the clock, racing each other, racing their fears, racing themselves.
As a teenager I ran before school, after school. Like Forest Gump said: I was going places.
I. WAS. RUNNING.
I read about Atalanta, the completely kick-ass (in my opinion) Greek deity who refused to marry anyone who could not beat her in a footrace. Those who tried and could not would face decapitation and many, many suitors lost their heads in their attempts to win her hand.
When I grew up, I wanted to be her.
My love for running has helped heal me. It pushes me; it has made me grow not only as an athlete but as a person. It has introduced me to new people and reunited me with old friends.
But more importantly, it is my form of meditation and calm; it provides an outlet for the voices in my head and a space for new ideas to percolate and brew.
It gives me an opportunity to create change and be inspired. It allows me to inspire.
Running moves me.
So tonight, despite tight hamstrings, and tender collar bones; aches in my back, and no-laugh abs, what did I do once I got off the metro, having just left work?
I went for a run.
And I’ll continue to do so. Maybe tomorrow. Definitely the day after that.
This weekend I’ll push it again, harder this time, with Mr. M, my running partner in crime.
Seriously folks – we are two tough mudders.
We are runners.