Today I hope to get a “long run” in. I’ve only been running about three weeks this go around, so a long run will only be three miles. I will run it slightly faster than Palmer Glacier on Mt. Hood. Right now, I feel fat, slow, and old and don’t see how I can possibly run 26 miles in October.
In fact, running right now is such misery that I know I would say enough if it weren’t for the place running has had in my life through the years.
As a kid, I wanted two things–to play forward for the Boston Celtics or to run like Jim Ryun, Steve Prefontaine, Kip Keino. Many of my heroes were runners and I have witnessed many of these runners live. I lived in Springfield, OR for awhile, near Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. There I saw Ryun and Liquori, Pre and Shorter, Lindgren and Moore. I wanted to be them.
Alas, I wasn’t. I’ve always been slow. Still, there have been great moments running for me. There is simply no feeling like a second wind, endorphins kicking in, the feeling like you’re floating. I haven’t felt it for years, but the memory of it is strong. I want to say I’m a runner so I can be connected to all of that.
Physical memory is an amazing thing, memories that can still produce feelings in your body. I can remember certain feelings from the basketball court, a great run on an Oregon trail, my baptism, my teammates slapping my back as I crossed home plate. They are still so vivid. Running today at 51 I expect nothing like that to happen. But these memories will be there on the other side of my pain, physical markers of identity that I am loathe to abandon.
Three miles. Piece of cake. I’m a runner.