Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Take That, Take Two

The East Bay Bike Path which runs
from Bristol, RI to Providence
Sometimes when I run,I feel like I'm running. Other times I feel like a runner.

Those are the days when the running feels natural, where my eyes wander off the pavement in front of me, and my thoughts tend to drift off into the wilderness. When I notice the goslings feeding on the grass by the bike path; when I see the sun painting shadows on Brickyard Pond; when I really hear the lyrics of the music playing in my ears.

This weekend I had a run like that.

Five miles in the hot sun. It wasn't that the running was easy -- far from it; it took me nearly a mile to find my stride and the last mile was challenging. But those miles in the middle, I felt strong, comfortable, like I could run all day. Even as I struggled to keep my pace the last warm mile (when I knew I wouldn't run all day), I felt like I belonged out there.

Dorothy Parker famously said, I hate to write; I love having written. There's a little truth to that in running, too, particularly on the days where it's a grind. But there's more to it than that. It's not just the release of endorphins, the runner's high. It's the satisfaction of rising to a challenge. And as much fun as it is to run in a cool, cloudy, 50-degree day; on days when the weather isn't so cooperative -- when driving rain is pelting your face; or when it's so hot that you're sweating from your first step -- there's even more satisfaction. It's as if someone has thrown some obstacles in your path and said, "Ha, bet you can't do it now."

 It's harder and in that hardness, there's more than a feeling of completion, there's a sense of assertion. And on those days when it all feels right, there's a sense of take that, cancer.