Saturday, January 1, 2011

First run

This is the last day of my vacation. It’s also New Year day. Tomorrow we fly back home and then it’s back to work the following day. We just came back from a late lunch. More like a brunch but at 1:30PM. It’s cold outside. Two days ago it was nice and warm and now it’s around freezing. There are patches of snow on the red rocks. I haven’t run in a couple of days because I did something to my back. Excuses, excuses. I get my shit ready and I drive to the trail head.
***
The sun is nice and warm, but it’s pretty cold. I know I can run the main loop in 45 minutes. About halfway, there’s a trail that heads North and I can take it and add as much time as I want. I decide that I’m going to run out and back on that trail for 45 minutes, giving me a total of 90 minutes. Not exactly the 4+ hours I should be doing, but better than nothing. I lock the car, put my Nathan vest on and I start running. Tap, tap, tap, tap...
***
I’m stiff. My feet are stiff. The trail is mostly frozen solid, with bike tracks and footprints making the surface uneven. Still, the air is crisp, the sun warms my back. I feel great.
***
The first couple of miles are a gentle, but steady uphill. Quick steps, tap, tap, tap. I hear music in my head, in sync with my stride. I run by a few people but I don’t really see them. I scan the ground looking for rocks, listen to that music in my head and the sound of my breathing. I keep the effort as easy as possible on rolling hills.
***
I wonder what it would feel like to run like Krupicka, Jurek or Roes. I’m doing fine but this isn’t really climbing. Last Sunday I climbed, around 2000 feet and it was hard. But I did it. And I’m doing it now. And, quite frankly, I feel like a running god right now. They might run faster than me, but at this very moment for some reason this trail is exactly what I need it to be and I feel as strong as anyone. I breathe deeply but easily. I still hear the music in my head. There’s a bit of snow, especially in the shade. The red rocks, the desert vegetation, the silence, except for my breathing and my footsteps. Wow. Tap, tap, tap...
***
It’s almost time to turn around. I look up a bit and I stop dead in my tracks. The sun is hitting the red rocks around me and the sight is just breathtaking. The sky is dark blue, the kind of blue I think I remember from when I was a kid but I never seem to see anymore. I’ve run far from the busier trails and the silence is striking. The trail I’m running is in kind of a bowl shaped valley, so I can see how far I’ve come. I love the feeling of traveling on my own power, the loneliness of running AWAY, of being away. Maybe I should see someone about that...  I stand there for a while, looking around and I feel like there is something special about this moment. I raise my arms like Rocky and I see my shadow do the same. I feel silly but I feel great.
***
The trail has some snowy and icy spots. I’ve turned around now. I’m still thinking about how good this feels, how beautiful this run is, how lucky I am to be able to do this. All of a sudden, I can’t see the trail very well. What the fuck? My throat hurts, my breathing gets choppy: I’m fucking crying, I shit you not. As soon as I realize, I start laughing, blink the tears away and keep going. What the hell was that all about?
***
I get back to the main loop and immediately there are more people around. It’s easy running now, mostly downhill. My mind is going a hundred miles and hour. I’m thinking about whether I can ever become a better runner. Whether I have what it takes. I’m so lazy. Am I willing to walk the walk? I understand I will never be a great runner, but am I willing to do the work to become a better one? Even if I train like crazy, will I ever be able to run some of the uphills in an ultra? Can I ever finish Western States or some of the other difficult ultras? My head is spinning. I keep running. Tap, tap, tap...
***
I get to the car as the sun slips behind the mountains. My nose and upper lip are frozen. What a run. I can't remember what song I was hearing though...

2 comments:

Holly Vipond said...

Great post, JD! I think you're already a pretty great runner!!

Derrick said...

Poetry