from mile to marathon

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

Saturday, July 07, 2007

4th of july freedom run

One thing the marathon did for me: when I picked up my race package for the 8K I did not feel like a total outsider.

The race occurred in the same place and was sponsored by the same store (Fleet Feet) as the Thanksgiving 5K last year. It can get never get more local than this. I got into my car, I drove for 5 minutes. There was no parking space (I knew that!), so I invented one, and lined up at the starting line a few seconds before the anthem started playing. I swear it was even the same balloon rising. Like last year, I wept. Not because of any articulate emotion, as in ”I am an American now,” simply because of indescribable beauty – the music enveloped us, the flag was fluttering from the gondola, the sun leapt over the rim of the mountain range, and we were ready for go.

The course started out eastward, facing the glare. For the first two miles, everybody passed me, youngsters, old hippies with white hair in ponytails, moms with strollers. I wondered what those infants were thinking in the urgency of the morning, recline over pillows, pushed against the light. I tried desperately to remind myself this was just another weekday morning run, a bit longer perhaps. It did not matter who was ahead. The silence behind me said there was no one on my heels, and I did not look back, afraid to find it confirmed.

I did not bring my watch. I repeated to myself time did not matter. The area was residential and quiet. There was road kill on the streets. It smelled of manure, it smelled of hey, it smelled of heat. The neighborhood dogs yelped at the commotion. Somewhere after mile 2 we turned westward, and the valley opened up before us. I ran for a long time, in silence, next to a man in a blue shirt, none of us staying behind or reaching forward.

By mile four I glimpsed on the electronic display that for the first time in the race I was below a 10 minute pace, and ambition suddenly bit me. If I could only maintain that. I had not pushed myself before, not to my knowledge, but now I did. The last mile was uphill again, as the first two. It was too much. Just before I got the finish in sight, I had to walk, breathless and spent.

But I crossed the line in 48 min 45 sec, still below the 10 minute pace, the same as in all my prior races shorter than a marathon, and I ended up on the other side dizzy and happy, soaked in sweat and satisfaction, barely able to reason.

By the time I got home I was hungry.

15 Comments:

At 8:04 PM, Blogger robtherunner said...

Sounds wonderful. What a great run and congrats keeping that pace under 10 mpm.

 
At 8:10 PM, Blogger Backofpack said...

Once again, you elevate the race report to poetry. It is so eloquently descriptive that I feel as though I am standing beside you, sharing every breath. An awesome time and effort.

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger JustRun said...

Very nice! Both the report and the race. :)

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Chad said...

Great pace, great race. I like 4th of July races, too bad I missed mine . . .

Congrats and keep after it!

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Nice job on the race! And you write such beautiful race reports. :)

 
At 6:45 PM, Blogger Bre said...

So proud of you! It sounds like you had a great run!

 
At 7:25 AM, Blogger Deene said...

i always wonder about those babies in the racing strollers myself. good job!

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Steve said...

"Invented your own parking spot"
You definitely are an American!

Sub 10 pace..Very Nice!

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Annette said...

Way to go! It's hard not to be competitive, isn't it? Even when I plan not to, something eventually gives me that little push. :) It sounds like it was a great run. I love that you are happy after a run. I think you are starting to love running - aren't you? :)

 
At 3:44 AM, Blogger RunBubbaRun said...

Great run!

You writing makes me feel like I'm there.

Great job on keeping the pace.

 
At 4:32 PM, Blogger Desiree said...

The other side of dizzy and happy sounds wonderful...

 
At 8:35 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Cheers to you! Great July 4th run and nicly put into words!

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger paris parfait said...

Lia, I'm sorry I haven't visited in a while. Congratulations on a great race! You've written a lovely piece about your experience.

 
At 7:18 AM, Blogger Gotta Run said...

Great report!! Sucks when you have to walk so slow to the finish BUT you did a awesome job and you finished!!!!

Way to go!!

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Darrell said...

what a perfectly simple report. It captured the emotion and feeling perfectly.

 

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