Monday, July 6, 2015

Don't Ever Look Back, Again

On July 7, what will be exactly a year ago tomorrow, I wrote about finishing the Runners World Run Streak and what I learned from it in the post Don't Ever Look Back. Well, this year I ran the Run Streak again, and--surprise, surprise--I'm going to do the exact same thing.  Like Happy Holiday, You Bastard! 2014Happy Holiday, You Bastard! Take Two, and Happy Holiday, You Bastard!, you can expect this to be a regular thing.

What I learned from running from the day before Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, forty-two--forty-two!--days in a row. In a list.

1. I am so much better than I was last year.

Last year when I wrote about the Run Streak, I talked about how incredibly injury prone I am and how I couldn't possibly run every day because if I did, I'd end up hurting myself and not be able to run at all, which was absolutely, positively true. Now, I'm not saying I no longer get hurt--dear God, I'm not saying that, and if I end up sidelined tomorrow, I suppose I have nobody to blame but myself for jinxing myself on this post--but the 55 miles I ran with some rest days last year did turn into 97 miles without rest this one. What I'm saying, I suppose, is that I'm stronger. I'm stronger than I was, and I'm also more determined, which brings me to number 2.

2. I'm ridiculously dedicated and pretty damn determined.

So during the Run Streak, this:

A. I went to Kansas City for eight days, where I worked from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. scoring hundreds of essays without a day off. Maybe that doesn't seem like such a big deal to you, but any teacher or professor reading this understands just how difficult a task it really is.

B. I drove over 3,000 miles, from South Florida to Charleston to Washington DC to Boston to Philadelphia, with two teenagers, one of whom wouldn't shut the fuck up about how much he missed his girlfriend and how he didn't appreciate my taking him on the trip, and two dogs who barked so much we almost got kicked out of a hotel. Both Boston and Philadelphia were grassless--grassless!--and I had to walk four blocks to a park each time the dogs needed to go out, in Boston through Florida-winter weather and pouring rain.

C. I experienced hill running for the first time. Kansas City, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, South Carolina--nothing but hills. Is Florida the only flat place on earth?

D. I totally twisted my ankle running down a hill in Santee, South Carolina, where we spent the night on the drive back home, badly enough that I had to sit down on the ground, force myself not to cry, and worry about how I was going to get back to the hotel. And you know how I did? I ran. Slowly. Three days away from the end of the streak with .65 miles completed for the day, no fucking way I was going to stop.

Despite A-D and anything else I didn't mention, I got my ass up, and I ran every motherfucking day. In Kansas City when I had to catch the bus by 7:30 to get to the scoring place by 8, I woke up by 6 so I could run, even on days when I'd run at midnight the night before; in Washington when I felt like my legs couldn't possibly carry me back up a hill, I ran up the goddamn motherfucking hill; in Boston, after sitting in a car for a thousand-plus-mile drive, I ran; when I got home with my twisted ankle, I wore the ankle brace I limped into CVS to buy, set the treadmill on a lower speed than normal, and I ran though the pain. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was going to get in the way of my finishing the Run Streak. And it didn't.

3. I can get accustomed to anything.

Okay, so I already said I'm a better runner than I was last year, but there's more. It's like, when I used to run, and when I say used to run, I mean prior to last year's streak and my final separation with Glenn because if I had to pick a distinct separation of my two (running) lives, that would be it, if I ran on the treadmill I set it at 5.5, and if I ran outside, my miles were somewhere around 11 minutes. I also missed days all the time. Now, if I run at 5.5 I pretty much feel like I'm walking, if I run an 11-minute mile I--actually, that would never happen, so I don't even know--and if I miss a day, I feel like something is wrong. I guess the lesson learned here is that if I stick to something--anything--I'll succeed.

4. Happy can be found in unexpected places.

I never thought running would be such a huge part of my life, that it would make me as happy as it does, because it's always been a struggle, but it is and it does. While I used to dread running, now I look forward to it every single day. I don't have very much to say about this one except that even something that initially causes despair can bring happiness if people let it.

5. No matter what's going wrong in my life, I always feel better after a run.

I often think while I'm running that I don't understand why in the world anybody would ever do a drug, that very little feels better than this. Of course my problems are still there after I finish, but they never look as bad.

6. The harder the better.

Yes, sometimes I run easy and sometimes I run long, but by far the runs that feel the most right to me are the runs when I run hard. Putting all my effort into something, pushing myself until I feel like I can't be pushed anymore just feels amazing.

Number 7 isn't really a lesson learned because I wrote the same thing last year, but it's something I must copy, paste, and repeat:

7. Running is a metaphor for absolutely everything.

But that one I already knew.