I sometimes joke (though not often out loud) that as an English major and film minor, I find symbolism everywhere. So it’s no surprise that I find endless metaphors for running in my life.
At festivals, when you really can’t get a moment’s peace (ear plugs and an eye mask when you go to bed are the closest things to solitude), running helps me literally put distance between myself and the festival and get some space. I’ve written before about how tackling hills is an endless series of challenge and accomplishment — and how hills that seem insurmountable at first get easier the more often I face them. I mean, how can you miss that? It’s so obvious, it feels like I wrote it in high school.
But the other thing that strikes me about the way I run is that I’m a distance runner. I always have been. I’m terrible at the fast sprints where you go all out and then — over. I need time to settle in, and once I do, you can drop me in Golden Gate Park, and I’ll happily run for 6, 7, 8 miles and feel like I can keep going.
I always feel that’s a metaphor for how I deal with a lot of things in my life. I stay in for the long haul, whether I should or not. But I am proud that I can and do go the distance. I’m proud of myself that I’m capable of that, like I’m proud that my body can run 6 or 8 miles and not crumble after. And it makes me happy. At mile 2 today, with the Nike Club Run, I just got into that zone. I was smiling. I just wanted to keep running forever.
Tiffany wasn’t feeling quite so exuberant. I noticed after we turned around at Aquatic Park that she wasn’t talking as much (If you know Tiffany, you know that this is a sign of something. Could be fine, could be bad, but it’s not the norm). So I picked up the slack. For the first time in my life, I did a six-mile run and talked almost the whole time (If you know me, you know that this, too, is not the norm).
That’s when I realized that even though I’m hopelessly undertraining, I can totally do this half-marathon. Not fast. But not slowly either. And definitely all 13.1 miles. Because once I get going, I can just keep on happily going — or grumpily going, depending on my mood. But I’m going to do this. And it’ll be hard and good and awesome. Like a lot of things in life.
Oh, and Tiffany and I still ran 11-minute miles — with a million red lights and tourists by Fisherman’s Wharf. What?!?!