"Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving." - Roger Bannister
I took my new running shoes out for a spin today. They're blue, silver, and white. They look like modern, sleek versions of R2D2. They're probably the shoes that I'll wear in ten weeks when I run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. And when I look at them, I can't help but be frustrated by the contrast between how they look and how I feel.
I feel banged up. But I'm not that far into training. At this early stage, I shouldn't feel this tight and sluggish every day. I've got a minor sprain in my left ankle that won't go away. It's not so bad that I can't run, it's just bad enough that I can't run well. I've given it plenty of rest, but it's not responding. So to hell with it. I'll run anyway.
I ran ten miles today. Not too fast. Not too slow. About 7:45 per mile. The ankle held up. But it's a little swollen now.
Other parts are more tight and sore than they should be too. But I don't see any point in listing them off. It's just difficult to get my mind in a good place, when so many things feel out of place physically. My body feels muddled, and my thoughts do too. Though I did experience a fleeting moment of clarity today.
I ran through downtown to get to the lake. It was raining. A soft and cool rain, which is always nice to run in. Tourists and suburbanites littered the Saturday morning streets. They crowded under umbrellas, they scrunched their shoulders up, and they ran from one awning to the next. All in a futile effort to avoid a few drops of water. Judging from their body language and facial expressions, you might have thought that there were cannonballs falling from the sky, rather than tiny raindrops.
And then I got to the lake and I saw other members of my tribe. Dozens of them. Wearing only shorts, shirts, and running shoes. Shoulders back, heads held up, and big dopey grins soaking up the simple joy of running in the rain. I fed off of that instantly. My body was still sore, but I didn't care. I splashed through puddles. I bounded up and down the occasional lakefront hill. I leaned into the turns. And I too had a big dopey grin to accompany my thoughts as I remembered, for a moment, why it is that I run in the first place.
I wish I could say that that lasted. That I turned some metaphorical corner, and that I'm back on track mentally if not physically. But it didn't. And I'm not.
I'm not in a panic either. I'm just going to do the one thing that I know to do. I'm going to run. And I'm going to hope that this stuff blows over. And regardless of what happens, whether I'm feeling strong or feeling hobbled, I'm going to run that marathon in ten weeks. And I'll run the best race that I have in me that day. Whatever that may be.