Sunday, February 08, 2009

This is what bliss feels like

I've been reading Huruki Murakami's 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,' his memoir about being a novelist and a long time runner. It's a good time for me to read stuff like this because it's helping me refocus as I'm finally coming back to life.

He writes about how running is much like writing and how it balances his life. For me, running has been a little bit of a struggle lately. I can not reconcile what I know to be my potential and what I'm actually doing lately on the roads. I've felt sluggish even though I've been upping the frequency of my running.

That has changed over the past few days and week. The past few sessions, seemingly out of nowhere, I'm getting my groove back.

It's true that there are different sorts of running and I think that in the past 800 or so posts that I've written on this blog, it's likely that I've skewed towards the longer distances. I remember the first time I tried a 20K run, years ago on a summer day. I had everything wrong, no hat to sop up the sweat, not enough water to rehydrate and not enough shade to protect me from the rays. But after the run, I felt happy, exhausted and exhilarated.

We write, us long distance runners, about the runner's high. There's widespread debate and there seems to be enough of a divide of those who think it exists and others who get the high when they stop running (my favourite quote from the Spirit of the Marathon documentary). Me, I every time I embark on a long run, the first 6 kilometres feel bad. I can never get into it and my lungs and heart just seem out of synch. My body needs that half hour or so to realize that I'm about to ask a hell of a lot more of it.

Today's run was a return to those days. It was sunny, bright, cold but the type of chill that a runner relishes. We build up plenty of heats with each successive kilometre.

My first five ranged from from 5:11 to 5:30 kilometres. I felt ugh. I turned a corner and into city streets. By the time I reached the 10th kilometre, I had upped my pace to 5:06. I stopped about 11 kilometres in to admire the view of the lake, the sun glistening off its surface, I had come 10 kilometres to get this view, then I was on my way again.

Then something happened. I started running on streets to give the pedestrians the sidewalk, and I started flying. 4:53s, 4:36s, I started to find my running pace. During those last 8 kilometres, I was running on the same course that I ran the Scotiabank Marathon last year, and I remembered how I imploded in those last few miles and I got a lump in my throat, almost on the verge of tears of the memory of how well that day began and how horrible it ended. Today's run was just another long run, I've done countless of these 13+ plus milers, but it was something more. I was shaking off the winter on this spring-like day. I was refinding my stride and feeling the more powerful with every surge that I threw in. I was getting the heart back up there, I was breathing hard and for that last blissful hour, I was refinding my pace and I felt like a giddy kid doing so.

This is the longest run of this year and in those miles, I rediscovered the long distance runner in myself emerge. He threw down a 4:33 22nd kilometre and for good measure, another one. My pace is back, and although the winter will come back, I'm ready for the season. At the very end, I felt happy, exhausted and exhilarated.

14.92 miles in 2:00:38.

So I've run 40 miles for the week, and I'm just getting started. To get things rolling, I've signed up for four races in the coming months, the calendar is being set.

Weekly mileage: 40 miles
Year to date mileage: 171 miles


Arcane said...

Well said. That's a pretty good run you had there. I started out at the Humber bridge and ran over to the end of Queens quay and returned. It looks like they tore up that section of the trail on Queens Quay after the Redpath sugar place. It didn't look like they had plowed that section between queen's quay and Cherry st. but it seems that you were able to navigate it okay.

Marlene said...

Great post. Glad to hear you found your groove - here's hoping for many runs like this in the coming weeks.

yumke said...

Fran, yeah, I think you'll have to stick to the lakeshore route to get from the Beaches to downtown.. actually not a bad route.

Thanks Marlene, think it's going ot be a good month..

Sonia said...

I read the book too after reading about it on Alexandra's blog.

It's very short and sweet. Took me a couple of chapters to get into it. But despite the slowness of the 'story' I liked it.

One of my favorite quote of the book: "No matter how long you stand there examining yourself naked before a mirror, you'll never see reflected what's inside"