The weather pleasantly surprised us for yesterday’s 18.6 mile run. It was cold and drizzly at the start, but the rain cleared, and it ended up being beautiful running weather. Although I saw some of my friends at the start, I ran the race entirely alone because Kerry was running a different distance, and I wasn’t able to connect with Jenny beforehand. (It wouldn’t have mattered if I had. She’s quite a bit faster than I am.) Running alone for a long distance is something I haven’t done in a while. I discovered that I’m still good at being in my head for a few hours at a time. And what I heard in my own head made me realize that I have lots of other work to do.
I thought about the wet and the cold and whether I really had it in me to run a 50K on Whidbey Island in December. I thought about my form and how I can feel the additional weight I’ve put on in the last five months. I thought about how fast Natasha looked as she blew by me during her 10K shortly before the 10K and 18.6 mile courses split off from one another. I thought about the guy in the rabbit suit that I saw at the last race also and how I absolutely refused to let him beat me. I thought about how my Cliff blocks were difficult to chew because they were hardening in the cold and how they technically are prohibited in the clean eating program I’m doing this month. I thought about how I comfortably took two small cups of water from the high school kids working an aid station but felt paranoid about taking two cups late in the race when a super serious group of runner people worked the aid station. I thought about the people I saw limping along the way and wondered if I’d put myself through racing if my body couldn’t keep up with my heart. I thought about how much I wanted to walk at times. I thought about the neighborhoods we ran through and how similar they all looked. I thought about the NYC marathon and how much entertainment that city had along the course. I thought about how I wouldn’t be returning to NYC for the marathon this year because Dave and I already have plans to do the Portland marathon in October and the inaugural South Padre Island marathon in November. I thought a lot about finishing and how good that would feel. I wondered if I should keep all my layers on or take them off. I thought about how much laundry I created between my race clothes and my post-race drive clothes for the ride home. I thought about how good a hot shower and warm meal would feel when I got done. I thought about the nap I would take after the run.
I didn’t just think about running related things. I also thought about my Saturday hair appointment that got cancelled because my stylist had the flu and how that was the third time I’d tried to get my hair colored and the appointment was cancelled by the stylist, both this and my previous stylist. Maybe I’m just not supposed to color my hair? I thought about my friends who recently divorced and how we never really know what’s happening in the relationships of others. I thought about my new dryer and how much quieter it is than the dryer I bought in 1998. I thought about work and how I’m still often trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up. I thought about my friends in Iowa who have a seventh child on the way and how different our lives are, and I wondered if I have the capacity to be so giving of my time to others. I thought about the friends I haven’t seen or spoken to much in the last year for one reason or another. Am I a bad friend or just a busy one? I thought about the blog post I recently read from one of my favorite writers who thinks you can only do three things well a year, and I wondered what my three things are. I thought about people from my past who I miss and how I wonder if they ever miss me. I thought about how I’d like to wonder that less.
My brain just went from one thing to another the entire time, and then the race was over.
I know some people get bored running long distances, but I don’t. I can easily stay in my own head for hours. I did greet officers and volunteers along the route at times, but mostly I just ran and thought, and it felt productive both for my body and for my mind. I didn’t clear my mind of anything, but I did allow myself to hear what’s on my mind. I forget to do that sometimes.
I’ve been chugging along beautifully lately. Things are really good in my world, and I could go on like this for a long time. But if I listen to what’s in my head, I have to admit that I carry a decent amount of fear and regret. I’d like to figure out how to carry less of those things.
It’s easy for my to get automated into my day-to-day activities: work, training, laundry, time with Dave, time with my friends, time with my family. When I find my routine, I get a joy out of that, but routine isn’t enough. Routine doesn’t quiet my mind. It numbs it. I want my mind awake, and I want to deal head on with what’s happening in my brain. I don’t know exactly what that means, but that’s what came out of my long run yesterday.
I’ve got some work to do. Now if I can just figure out what that is exactly.