Against the Wind

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January 25, 2015 by scratchtype1

This run did not start well. I can’t exactly say it started badly especially if compared to the runs earlier in the week which had all been miserable. The legs had felt stiff some and the road is an adversary as well, in the places where snowmelt and rain froze up over night. Is that just wet? Or is that ice?

I also overdressed some and now here in the third mile as I walk up a small hill slick with ice, I pull off the long-sleeve shirt and tie its arms around my waist. The knit hat has already been tucked into the elastic waist band of the running tights I wore. But there is no wind and it’s climbing above freezing. Still, the shadowy places could remain dangerous for some time, just like those ones inside all of us.

A crow sits on a telephone line and watches me chug by, as I run once again. How far will I go today? By now, I’ve pretty much taken care of the minimal goal, assuming I run back, do at least 3.6 miles and by that, chalk up the 18th straight week of 20 or more miles of running. But I don’t feel inclined to push for a big goal like a long run of 10 miles or more. While I can say I’m mostly healthy after catching a cold the week before, it’s also true that every morning still when I wake up I have to clear my nose by blowing out some thick chunks of semi-congealed snot. Yeah, not pretty, so what?

That’s maybe been to blame for the feel of dead legs when I ran Tuesday through Thursday. Somehow my body is still fighting off the vestiges of the rhinovirus that first began tickling the throat and sinuses 2 weeks ago. Now comes a stretch through the trees and there’s a curve where water flowed across the road overnight. Not good, but at least it’s obvious and I drop to a walk. Still, along the inside slope of the curve, the Xeros can find hardly any traction and I slide-step my way down to the shoulder area of slush and muck. When finally clear of that, of course it’s time to run again.

I decide to turn left at the intersection, although I slow down before it because I see that cars are approaching it from both directions and the timing looks bad if I make my turn and then cause the car that will be approaching me to have to hit the brakes or dart out in front of the car coming towards them. So I’m polite that way and always trying to be mindful of the potential dangers that all runners can face.

I don’t look forward much to this idea. I will now face a mostly uphill stretch of over half a mile. But somehow the legs are finally getting comfortable with running when I can run and thanks to the early morning light, I’m guessing that this road will be nearly free of ice. After I crest an uphill that flattens out into a more level stretch, I see there is someone up ahead. It looks like a walker. It’s funny how something like this almost always will speed a runner up. Sure enough, when I take a glance at the Garmin, I can see that I’m now running faster. Still pretty easy, but faster.

I don’t think much during the time that I slowly close down the gap to the walker. I’m just grateful to feel like I’m running again, not plodding and complaining like the runs earlier in the week. When I get within reasonable speaking distance behind the walker, I say, “Good morning.” She returns the greeting and I pass her.

Eventually, I reach the end of this road and it’s time to turn around. I’m losing myself into the run now. I see the walker who is now coming in the other direction, but she’s unimportant. Instead I just focus on making all of me into a song about running and think about how nice it will be to sing about downhills and comfortably warm January mornings.

That song lasts for more than 5 minutes until I reach again the icy curve in the tree shadows. I gingerly cat-step its surface and because I also hear a car approaching from behind, I begin making a slow down sort of motion with my right hand, and then point at the icy area and then wave my hand in a slide motion, to try to indicate that it’s icy there.

The car slows down. As the driver passes by, she waves her hand to me, maybe to signal, “Thank you.”

Somehow now the sun has disappeared. That’s explained mostly by the fact that dark clouds have spilled over the sky. With them, so has come a wind. A wind that I must run into. How long should I run? Earlier, I would have said just go straight home from here. Yet now it’s changing. I’m running against a cold wind but I feel stronger. That continues until I reach the intersection where if I go straight I could face an uphill of about half a mile, or I could just simply turn towards home. When I first passed near it, I turned left because of it, because I could not stomach the idea of going up it.

Now thanks to over 5 miles of getting warmed up, I do it. For the next few miles, I think some about dad, who 4 days from now will have been dead 19 years. It’s funny how we can still talk to dead people, even though they will know nothing of it. I’m a runner now, Dad. I got up this morning and truthfully I almost didn’t run. Only 2 things got me out the door today, the threat of snow which might be bad enough to thwart running for the next 2 or 3 days, plus that obligation I now feel because I like to call myself a runner. There really were no excuses today to not run at least some. I’m not coughing blood, my legs aren’t broken, my heart is maybe cold and bruised some by the darkness of January, but if I’m a runner, I should run when given a fine opportunity like today.

19 years. How much I’ve changed, how much I haven’t. My closest dancing companion for good chunks of it has been depression. I don’t know whether I’m still alive because of stubborness or stupidity or both. Or maybe it’s because of something fierce and noble still in me, though I’m hard-pressed to prove any of that to you or anyone. Fuck it.

On it goes. The miles disappear both in front of and behind me. When they’ve become meaningless, eventually I seize upon using time to set the finish line. During those last 15 minutes, I run with ever more purpose and haste. Then finally the watch shows 2 hours and I hit stop. That’s enough for today. I could have run even longer, but there are some things to get done and get ready before the snow.

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