“I can’t live the rest of my life talking about what I did in space for 11 days.”
— Yi So-yeon, Korea’s first astronaut
Early tomorrow morning I’m climbing into a car whose rear view is totally blocked by a Hello Kitty balloon and driving a couple hundred miles to a town I’ve never heard of (Bulverde? Seriously?) to run a race nobody cares about in a time that will make people snicker. Why?
In my youth I was a race junkie. Every other weekend or so I’d search out a race somewhere. Anywhere. I loved racing. 5ks became 10ks became the usual progression to the point that there were no limits. And then there were.
A decade-long stretch of itbs. Work, divorce. A monkey heart transplant.Wendy’s change from paper to plastic for the Medium Chocolate Frosty. A new city. A new state. Witness protection program. Life just seemed to conspire against me. Sure, I kept running, for fear that whatever was back there eventually would catch me. But I no longer pushed myself to be my best. I had done that already.
I haven’t trained seriously in a couple of decades or so. I didn’t even know if I wanted to. But eight weeks into The World’s Longest Marathon Training Plan, I found my answer: Hell, yes.
I have two secret weapons — Mo, who is my constant source of encouragement and tolerance (you want to drive four hours to run 6 miles? Sure!) and vrb Jenny, who pushes me to get out the door on the days when SpongeBob is looking pretty inviting.
But it’s also a yearning. A need to find the best in me again. I’ve run some races over the past few years, but they were just faking it. I want to race at my best, whatever that turns out to be. Slow is OK by me. Slowly giving up, not so much.
Sure, it’s just a training run early in a marathon buildup. But still, it’s a $30 Training Run. I’ve been running with the heart rate monitor. I ran Tempo Tuesday on Wednesday in Zone 4 for 4 miles. The race wants me to run 6.2 miles at the upper end of zone 4 and maybe past it. Can I even do that? I don’t know. But, man. It will be fun to try.
In “Dept. of Speculation,” Jenny Offill. writes: “Russian ground control had a traditional signoff for the cosmonauts: May nothing be left of you, neither down nor feather.”
That’s what I want. That return to going full speed, even if my body only goes up to second gear these days. That feeling at the finish line of bending over, hands on knees propping up the body, egg mcmuffin gurgling contentedly in my belly, the burn of an honest effort that left nothing behind, neither down nor feather.
I can’t spend the rest of my life talking about what I did 20 years ago.
So it’s off to a little launch pad in the Hill Country of Texas to fire up the rockets again and do some exploring.
Offill says Einstein wondered if the moon would exist if we didn’t look at it. I wonder if I would exist if I weren’t in an old pair of asics. I don’t want to find out.
On with the countdown …