It’s A Long Road to Travel Six Miles

I was sitting on a stoop in Davis Square at 4:05PM yesterday when I realized that the weather was perfect for a run. The downpours were, I thought, behind us. It was grey, cool (but not too cool), with a slight breeze. I was transported back to San Francisco, when I went on the most perfect run one morning under similar conditions. I looked at the bus schedule and saw that there was a 4:08PM bus back home, and it would be leaving from the busway right across the street. Of course, as I walked up, there it was… pulling away, early.

So I walked a bit and caught a 4:35PM bus home. Just as I got off the bus, though, the skies opened up. While I am grateful for a good drenching now and then (and indeed was this time), I was sad that the heavy rain pretty much put the kibosh on my plans to go for a run.

I spent pretty much the next two and a half hours dithering about in my office, looking out the window, gauging the heaviness of the rain, occasionally stepping onto my front porch. When the sun began to set, I realized that if it was going to happen, I needed to do a run on Broadway, not along the poorly lit Mystic River. I began plotting routes on Map My Run. And at a certain point I just stood up, said “Alright,” and got dressed. I was sick of sitting around wasting time. Something had to happen, or I was going to feel lousy about it.

My plans were ambitious — for me, anyway. I live at the foot of Winter Hill, which I’ve tackled by bike many a time but never while running. I plotted a route that took me over the Hill to the Powderhouse Rotary and back. If I was wiped, I could just go back home and log 3.3 miles. If not, though, I had an extra 1.2 miles in my back pocket.

The hill was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Before I knew it, I was looping around (after loosening a too-tight shoelace) and heading back up the hill the other way, which was also not that bad. As I passed my 3.3 mile exit ramp, I decided to keep going. In fact, I decided to more or less forget about the length of the route I had plotted and run as long as I felt able.

At this point, I wasn’t even really mindful of the fact that I was running. A lot of times, it’s a struggle — I am extra aware of each step and the labor each one requires, painfully mindful of how much distance stands between me and the next milestone, or the finish line. Sometimes, my stride is reduced to barely a trot, whether out of exhaustion, soreness, heat or some other factor. Last night, though, my pace was good. I was moving, almost mindlessly. Only my most basic brain functions registered what was going on and kept me breathing and moving, while the rest of me exulted in the sensations of exertion, of cool, damp night air rushing past me. A light mist began to fall, cooling me even more.

When I approached the 4.5 mile point, I decided to run around a block a couple of times to get me to five miles. Then I ran up and down a street a couple more times to get me to nearly six miles. I then ran a couple of extra blocks that I thought would get me to 6.2 miles, the length of a 10K. (Though when I got home and measured the route, I turned out I only did 6.03 miles. Drat!)

When I stopped, at the Stop sign where I conclude all of my Mystic River runs, I felt great. I was drenched, sure, but I wasn’t winded or spent. As I walked down the remainder of the block back to my house, I felt quite alive, and grateful I stopped dithering around and made something happen. Not only did I finally tackle Winter Hill, but I logged the longest run of my short running career, in some fine running weather to boot. All it took was getting over my own inertia and getting out the door. I’m sore today, but it’s more than worth it.

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