from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

my outdoor track

In spite or because of my relative failure to run outside, lacking the predictability and predictions of the treadmill, I made up my mind to step away from the fitness center and run my week-end ‘big run’ au plain air – I wonder if the Impressionists painters, when they first stepped out of their studios, experienced the same trepidation.

I chose the perimeter around Albuquerque Academy in the NE heights, more precisely the block outlined by Academy, Wyoming, San Antonio, and Ventura, which I estimated to measure 3.3 miles (later someone told me it's only 3.2). A parking lot in one corner allowed me to stop every round and have a few sips of water from the bottle stashed away in my car.

I took off a just a few minutes after 6:15 am, the official starting time of the semi-marathon race in September. After a mile and a half, the sun rose over the mountains, bathing everything in apricot hues. I did a round, three miles plus, my usual output. I did another round, six miles or more altogether. My legs were heavy and overdue, as if they belonged to a different person carrying on three feet behind me. I walked from time to time. I did the third round, exhausted but exhilarated by being on my third round.

Lots of people were doing the rounds at Academy – young people and old, walking or running, white, black or tan people, sporting underwear tops or turquoise running outfits, wafting the smell of sweat or Chanel # 5, alone or with companions, pushing strollers or pulled by dogs, people absorbed by their loneliness or wired for sound – people with wires sticking out of their ears, pockets, waists, and armbands. People ready to smile and people with no use for friendliness. Even people on cell phones, oblivious to the rest of us.

There is a world out there, exercising. I felt a bit like an impostor.


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