from mile to marathon

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

Thursday, June 19, 2008

for what it’s worth

On June 8th I ran a little 10K, my first, with the idea of bringing some excitement into my listless, uneventful running. Start time was 7:30 am so I figured I’d be home by 9, the day still ahead of me, the time expenditure minimal.

I was curious about the course. The race took place in the new community of Mariposa north of Rio Rancho, which is north of Albuquerque - the suburb of a suburb. An inaugural run, it benefited the Special Olympics, and – I suspect – was also intended to create additional buzz around Mariposa, touted as the next paradise on earth. Predictably, the goodies bag contained some real estate information.

In truth, Mariposa is beautiful, the barren New Mexico way, only enhanced by a luminous, cool, wistful morning. We waited for the live anthem on the deserted road. The horn blew, and we took off toward the east, gathering momentum on the downward slope of the first mile.

The rest of the course was hilly. On stretches the road was paved with pink stone. The homes were mostly pueblo style with a twist in a modern interpretation of the traditional. Some were already inhabited – dogs barked, flowers bloomed in pots, life stirred behind open windows. Some were only future outlines at the side of the street. I saw a road with dark asphalt, the sidewalks painted, the median decorated, all brand-new and pretty, stop as if at a line drawn across the desert. Beyond it the sand glowed pink and untouched. I wished I had the camera.

I felt a bit like a faded beauty at a pageant, someone in retirement who once “was there”. I walked a few of the hills, reluctant at first, then persuaded by incline and heat. The last mile veered unexpectedly into a dirt path, up and down through ditches, over hills. Where I was most people just renounced the whole running thing, possibly feeling they did not sign up for a trail run. The end stretch was paved and even again, perfect for a strong finish. Retired or not, I gave it everything I still had. During the drive back home I was delighted like a child.