how can I go home
with nothing to say
I know you’re going to look at me that way
and say what did you do out there
and what did you decide
you said you needed time
and you had time.
— the prophet ani
I TOLD him that my dog wouldn’t run.
It’s 10 a.m. Sunday. Last night was The Worst Night Ever In The History Of American Journalism (i can’t really speak for papua new guinea). I got to sleep about the same time I woke up. I’m emotionally bankrupt and morally exhausted (apologies to Frank Burns’ toe tag.) And now, 15 miles.
Mo is really sick. I worry about leaving her to run loops, but she just wants to sleep and assures me that poking her every 15 minutes to ask how she feels won’t help the recovery process all that much.
I down some caffeine, eat a chocolate GU so that somewhere in the universe Jenny will look up with alarm, and set off.
Some runs are keepers. You float through the first miles daydreaming, communing with the spirits and not even thinking about that left-right-left-right that keeps you floating down the road. This run is not one of them.
I’m tired. I knew that was going to be a problem when I volunteered for Saturday overtime, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. My ITB is still doing the What The Hell Were You Thinking With Those Shoes mambo. I’m feeling the effects of eating nothing but Oreos on Saturday. And it’s not fun. Mostly, it’s really really really not fun.
I guess there’s no rule that says running has to be fun. It’s more like an unspoken bylaw. But I’m out here because I am supposed to be out here. Not because I want to be.
I dutifully trudge through a couple of loops, knowing that sometimes the jets kick in after the initial sweat. Nothing. I consider breaking out Weekend Edition, which I was going to save for the latter stages. But they’ll just talk about news, which will remind me about work, which will cause me to remember why I’m hating this. So I just keep going.
My woes are compounded by running the church loop. I’m going through the parking lot just as the early service crowd is leaving. Never get in front of an elderly Baptist en route to a buffet. You will lose.
But I go on. Because I must. And then I realize I mustn’t.
Today is not the day for a long run. Today is the day to recharge, to back off, to re-evaluate. To assure myself that it’s all a game, and it’s OK if you sit out a round or two. The game will wait for you.
I pull the plug.
Mo looks up with concern as I walk in. You’re going back out, right? she asks. I tell her no. She gives me the speech on how I should keep going anyhow. Mo knows the game too well. She is the master of getting me back on my feet. But she’s so sick that her head keeps flopping over as she tries to give me a pep talk. I shrug and go back to bed.
I later get a text from Jenny. She nailed her 15 miles at a spectacular pace. I tell her I stopped at 4.2. She is worried, figuring I wouldn’t stop unless I had a good reason. I can’t think of one. She’s doing so great at sticking with the plan. At least one of us is.
Later, she posts photos of her Chinese food. I’m eating nothing but Oreos again. I sort of hate her. But I love Oreos. Calling it a draw.
I lament missing a crucial run on the WLMTP. I fear getting behind. I worry about whether that’s actually Banksy behind the Twitter account. I try to fathom a world in which a football might be slightly deflated. Unthinkable. I’m a worrier. You knew that. But what can you do? I put it behind me. Runners have to have short memories. This is likely why I can’t remember people’s names.
I wake up the next morning and read Dr. Sheehan, looking for the answer. He tells me to go look for it myself. Dr. Sheehan is wise.
On to the next week. And maybe some Chinese food …