25 May 2013

Yeah, There Was That

When you anticipate something for a long time, it seems rather odd to miss it.  Especially when it’s not something that you have to look for, but is instead something that’s right there on the calendar and staring you in the face.  You know when it’s going to happen. But you space and it’s past.  Perhaps that’s age setting in, or maybe it’s just the toxins from that spray paint I used on the deck furniture hard at work, rotting neurons.

When last we checked in, I was hobbled. And true to form, the best cure for an injury is to wait it out till you can’t stand it anymore, then write about it.  There’s something magical about that process in that it somehow triggers healing, or at least snaps you out of the mental funk that said wound induced which caused the writing in the first place.  It’s a circular thing, of sorts, like a circle.

In any event, shortly after airing my woes, I reached my mental breaking point and simply couldn’t stand any more days of slow three-mile healing recovery jogs.  The heel was definitely not healed (and still isn’t), but it had improved enough to ignite the foolish idea of ramping back up again, getting back to the miles that sooth my obsessive brain.  Over the course of last week I turned the knob back up toward normal, with mixed results, leading to last Saturday, when my desire to rejoin my club for their morning donut run came into sharp conflict with a planned later-in-the-day memorial fund-raiser run for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Turning the dial back up was one thing; turning it back up to a double workout, even when both consisted of easy, laid-back miles, seemed another, far more questionable.

This seems trivial to the normal person, but for me it presented a perplexing situation:  balancing healing, training, and social desires, because after all, aren’t we spoiled enough to think we can have it all?  Deciding that if done gently enough, the body could handle it, I figured I’d hit both events, and happily joined the club last Saturday morning for an easy five.  More focused on the condition of my lower left appendage and the social glee carrying on around me, it never occurred to me to take note of the three-mile point when that long-awaited, highly anticipated, and certainly not surprising moment arrived and I hit two solid years of my streak.

Yeah, there was that.

It occurred to me only later.  I missed it entirely.  Ah, well, seven-hundred-thirty-one days is an odd number, anyway.  But there it was, and it was undeniably satisfying:  two years, never less than three miles each day.  Some of them awesome days, some pretty dog-slow, but something on every one of them.  Begging the question, of course, what next?  The answer, as always, being obvious, that so long as the body can stand it, why quit?  It’s an awesome motivator.

Having already chalked up the milestone, the afternoon’s event was mere ceremony.  Created by a fellow Strider, the plan was to run twenty-five quarter-mile laps, thankfully around a grassy field rather than simply on the track, representing the first twenty-five miles of the Boston Marathon, then gather everyone for the twenty-sixth lap to be walked in silence, in remembrance of the victims.  A grand idea save for the fact that the time allotted was generous even for a walker, so even arriving late – with Darling Daughter the Younger and Dearest Spouse along to partake in the day – I still needed to burn off some of that excess time.  Thus was I was pleased to find another club-mate looking to log ten rather than six miles, taking advantage of the organizer’s promise that nobody would be counting our laps.  We didn’t do a very good job counting them ourselves, realizing later that in the time it took us to reel off forty counted laps, we must have covered several more that we missed, but hey, who’s counting, right?  Plenty of munchies, a solemn last lap walked, a fine short memorial, and another three grand into the OneFund for those folks who really need it.

Two runs, each with their special joys, a highly enjoyable day even though the heel still hurt, though in a bearable way.  And two years running, though I missed it when it happened.  Yeah, there was that.  Guess I’d better pay closer attention at the next big milestone.

Geek Moment:  Finally, a side note from the “I can’t make this stuff up” department.  A few days back I headed out and covered a nine-plus mile circuit on our local rail trail, then as I often do, upon returning home, tacked on an extra lap around the block for good measure.  I checked some splits on the marked rail trail, to check my status in returning from the land of the hobbled, and was reasonably pleased at the unremarkable though not horrible numbers.  Leaving the trail, though, other than clicking the watch when passing home, I didn’t look at it till I wrapped it up following the extra block.  To my amusement, it registered exactly seventy minutes, 70:00 to the second.

Yeah, so, what’s the big deal?  In a completely random world you’ll hit a ten-minute boundary like that once every six-hundred timed runs, and I was, after all, about to hit two years in the streak, over seven-hundred runs, and I’ve been running eight years, so yeah, it’s going to happen.  So?

The next day:  I almost never run the same route twice on successive days, but mental distraction found myself mindlessly heading out the same way, and about two miles out I gave in and decided to take a second lap around the same loop.  This time, however, I had no concerns about pace.  Simply didn’t care, didn’t look at the watch once.  I did, for kicks, click it passing home and then tacked on the extra block again.  And when home came by the second time and I clicked it off to finish up, you guessed it:  exactly seventy minutes, 70:00 to the second (that's the 1:10:00 on top, not the last around-the-block lap in the big numbers).

It’d be one thing if I’d consciously tried to do this, even if I hadn’t looked at my watch, but the fact was that my head was in a very different place on the second day and I was just running without concern for anything in the realm of performance.  And you can easily say, “So what?” and be entirely right.  In the big scheme, it’s entirely irrelevant.  But it’s undeniably cool.  That just doesn’t happen every six-hundred days.

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