Went for a glorious run this morning here in Midland, Texas. Was reminded why I love West Texas. Was reminded why I love running.
It’s a sickness when you’re up at 5:40AM on a Saturday morning on Memorial Day weekend because you simply can’t wait to go running. I had a dream that I was chased by a hippo/pit bull last night. Serious. It was a pit bull that was the size of a hippo. It was one of those weird hybrids that could only happen in a dream. Like the opossumdog. After a run-in with one of those late at night, I knew this morning run was going to absolutely kill.
When you run on the road, you tend to not leave the house with all of your equipment. I had my watch, my socks, my body glide (to avoid the notably painful and uncomfortable “chub chafe”), my shoes, my hat, my shorts that allow the “bronco” jog…had everything except one iPod and one pair of ear buds. The last time I ran without music, it was easily the worst run I had in quite sometime. It was terrible. Uninspired. Running without music, though, takes out the distraction. It purifies the experience. It strips of it of all of the niceties. All the pleasantries. It forces you to decide how much you really enjoy it.
I remember reading when I first started running that using music while you run is discouraged simply for the fact that it tricks your head and body into thinking it’s doing something else instead of confronting your mind and your body to accept that you’re up at 6:00AM on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend on a dirt road outside of Midland, Texas in a jog with nothing to protect, distract or entertain you. It’s just you and the elements. That was the challenge I was willing to accept this morning. I stretched on the floor of our hotel room in the dark, chowing on a banana.
As I pointed northward, walking out the tightness in my legs before commencing the run, I took a deep breath and the sound of the air running through me was exactly what I was missing over the last year by listening to music. I took another breath.
I ran through my affirmation and a quick hallelujah and took off.
It’s remarkable what clarity there is in just being out there, jogging, breathing. I paced my breathing quickly. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. spit. inhale. exhale.
I didn’t look at my GPS for most of the run. I wanted as pure an experience as possible. My right foot hurt like hell the entire run. My shoes are falling apart underneath me. These puppies have gone the long mile. About to turn into the world’s greatest pair of lawnmowing shoes. Otherwise, my body was in great shape.
inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale. inhale. exhale.
As i dragged out north of town, I found myself heading down a dirt road with nothing but the sounds of field birds and an occasional horse. The air was thin and laced with a noticeable hint of mesquite and sage. Midland air was remarkably breathable this morning. My last run in the Yellow, the air was so thick that I was damn near ready to pass out.
As I jogged, my mind jogged as well. Thought about Ellison. Thought of my lovely wife. Thought about sticking to jogging for both of them. Thought about oil and “topkill.” Thought about that dent in the side of Boggs the Honda. Thought about my foot. Thought about my wrist. Thought about insurance. Thought about my chipped tooth. Thought about Lubbock and how I missed it at times. Thought about Peyton David, my new nephew. Thought about tornados. Thought about my dogs. Unlike when you’re running with music, I thought about tons of things. For fifty straight minutes.
Minutes went by and miles started to mount. Before I knew it, I turned over the fourth mile and began my late surge. For the last, 3/10 of a mile, I sustained a 12 MPH pace. Yeah, that’s fast. That’s faster than I’ve ever run. And it was me doing. Not the Cube. Not the Public Enemy. Not the Sword.
Just body and mind.
We’re so tied down with technology. We want such convenience. We want to be surrounded by sight and sound everywhere. We forget how naturally beauty things are when you turn down the music and just breathe. I’ve been cheating the experience by polluting it with sound. I was struck by the simplicity of such a sport. I thought about how, as I get older, I’m less driven by competitive sports. I like sports where it’s you competing with you. I don’t particularly enjoy competing against other people. People cheat. People deceive. People sometimes don’t exhibit the best sportsmanship. People fight for trophies. They strive for glory in the defeat of another.
Jogging is you versus the world. It’s you versus you. The land doesn’t cheat. The land doesn’t deceive. The earth doesn’t want to beat you. It simply is. The only variable is you. It’s why I like skiing as well. There’s different elements, but there’s nothing out there out to defy you. It’s all up to your individual performance. And there’s no trophy at the end. There’s no crowds of screaming spectators. There’s no one out there but you.
Let’s see how committed you are to this.
I haven’t yet officially begun my 1,000-mile year. I need to hit 19 miles a week. I did 12.5 this week over three runs. Not great, but the run today was resurrecting. We’ll start soon. I felt my spirit turn a corner. Not going to be easy with throwing in being a loving husband and father to Ellison. Priority is family.