June 24, 2014 by scratchtype1
It was hell, I tell ya, hell. Not really. It was just another Tuesday which meant it was time, if my heart and mind could handle it, to do a hard sort of run. Today’s poison was hill repeats and I did 8 of them after a 24 minute warmup. It was somewhere near the end of the last repeat or maybe it was while I walked a bit after that last one before resuming running that I crossed a milestone: 1,000 miles of running barefoot or in the Xeros. It took me a little under 11 months to get this far.
The feet have changed a fair bit. A lot more muscle and I think the arch has gotten taller some. I don’t have any official measurements so don’t regard those impressions to be scientific facts.
During the 7th repeat, which was the slowest, I thought vaguely some the oddity of running up this hill and then back down again. I couldn’t quite bring myself to go fully hard and was dismayed some when I saw the split time after the telephone pole I run past for the marker. Then I looped around and went back down the hill for the last one. Hard. Fast. Give it all. Last one. What would happen? I hit the starting point and finally the legs went for it. Okay, go for it. At about halfway through, it’s beginning to get uncomfortable, I’m sucking wind and for a moment it almost looks like the distant telephone pole is receding away from me. Impossible. I’m going to run it down. It obeys and begins to loom closer. The hill continues to gradually steepen, which is one hellish aspect of where I run these repeats. One more telephone pole to go. I disconnect from my body and the only hell I know is what’s in my head. That can be dealt with and put aside. I’m chasing down someone to win a race. I’m going to do this faster than I’ve ever done before. If I could be aware of it, my chest is expanding and contracting back and forth faster than what most sane people would ever want to do. Desperation. I’m flying because the fires of hell are underneath me and throwing me skyward.
Hit the split button. I vaguely see 48 seconds. What was the fastest before? 49? I think so. I’m walking. I’m aware of my body again. It is slow now, though the legs feel oddly light. Huh. Continue walking some more, then finally I break out again into a slow run and then go over the top of the hill and on to home.
There’s some difficulty for me in doing harder runs like those. During the warmup, I was seriously tempted to just stay there and run nice and easy. What are you doing? What are you doing? But somehow, I got turned around and running easy back to the hill.
Some months ago, I was looking at a person’s OKCupid profile and she put something in about how she was reading a book where the author was arguing that suffering is redemptive. Perhaps that can be true sometimes, perhaps sometimes it isn’t. It’s certainly a common feature in stories that haven been written and I suppose many people here in the United States would quickly think of the story of Jesus and the crucifixion. One story that I remember from when I was younger was from the fantasy series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson. I got to say, Thomas Covenant is one of the least-likable protagonists ever conceived. But I’m to going to get into that so much but more about one of the characters in the book, Saltheart Foamfollower, a giant. In Donaldson’s mythology, giants are incapable of crying. The only way they have to grieve is by inflicting the pain of fire upon themselves. In the final book of the first trilogy, Saltheart Foamfollower and Covenant are nearing the end of the journey towards the nemesis of Lord Foul. They reach a point where the only way forward is across molten lava. It is there that Saltheart Foamfollower, still wracked with anguish from the slaying of the giants in the land and being the last survivor carries Covenant across the lava while he, Foamfollower, sinks into it slowly. Through that, he sacrifices himself to give Covenant the chance to prevail over Lord Foul, but all while suffering the grievous pain of being burned alive.
But of course sometimes there can be a trap in the idea of thinking suffering is redemptive. Sometimes we can want to play martyrs, and it becomes a way of feeding the ego. Look at how much I suffer, that makes me awesome because I’m suffering while you’re not. We may all be guilty of that to varying degrees during our lives. I wrote to that person of the OKCupid profile and asked her about what she thought. I never got a response to that. But that’s not surprising, considering that’s been the basic story for me at OKCupid. I guess I’ve sent messages to around 40 women or so who it seemed like there could be a good chance that we might understand each other and enjoy time together. Out of that, I’ve had one date. Which was a decent enough date, but both she and I agreed there just wasn’t that sort of spark or whatever and we said that one date was good enough.
Other than that, I’ve only had a few who have responded. But nothing developed from those. So I guess now it was a couple of weeks ago that I’ve kind of thrown up my hands and said, “This ain’t working.”
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I really do suck at knowing what people want to hear and to get them interested in me. The consistent feature is that I fail to engage interest. Perhaps these women see me with more clarity than I see my own self. I do think that I could be a reasonably decent partner for somebody, but perhaps I’m wrong on that. So I don’t know. And so I’ve thought about it and realize, that, you know, I have basically been solitary my whole life and that’s not the worst thing to be. Even if I can’t find another to be a partner to, there is still beauty and joy in this world for even those who don’t have the good fortune of loving another and being loved back.
So I can be okay with it.