Thursday, January 27, 2011

Meanderings of a Has Been: Once A Runner

There are a lot of things on my mind I could blog about today. But I will take a little break here to pause and write about just one.

The small (but mighty) staff in my office know I frequently like to forgo a lengthy lunch hour, lace up my trusty Asics and hit the roads of Midtown Little Rock. It's my escape from the computer, the deadlines, e-mails, conference calls and data. A quiet reprieve from that nagging to-do list, always by my side at the edge of my desk, action items staring me down, begging to be crossed off. (Disclaimer: Regardless of how it sounds, I do enjoy my work, but everyone needs a well deserved break!)

Today, for some reason, I felt possessed to meander on down to the track at the middle school across the street. You see, I didn't really plan to go there. Perhaps the runner buried in me has an internal compass that took over. I'm not quite sure why, but my legs happened to guide me there and in a short six minutes I found myself standing on a track.

I walked up to the "start line" as it had been to me for so many years and immediately started to feel sick to my stomach. Images of races gone wrong and springtime college track workouts that seemed to never end but were capped with an endorphin rush flooded my mind. Memories of teammates and the camarederie, competition and bonds we created sliced through me like deja vu. Long Sunday morning runs and frequent hysterics on the run made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It was a the good life!

I saw a young girl, high school or college age, warming up for workout with her coach by her side. I looked at her in envy and secretly wished I was getting ready for one of those epic workouts my memory is so fond of.

"This is so silly, I thought, because I'm not running a race here." The idea of running a race in my current form is enough to elicit inner laughter, not to mention my gag reflux. I found myself thinking "I'll just run a mile." Of course I had to time myself, because what runner, former or current, can run on a track without a watch? And sure, why not, let's time my splits, just for old times sake.

I won't post my time. It's not that bad and most anyone who might read this (lest my teammates and competitors of old) would say I should be proud of myself. I'll keep it between me and my trusty Ironman since we've been through so much together. The sad part is how painstakingly long the run back to the office suddenly became. The carefree jog to the track became an embarassing slog with a couple shame-ridden walking breaks.

This is my quest not only to get back in shape. Running isn't what it used to be for me anymore. It's not about PR's, mileage, race pace or goals. I don't do tempo runs, ladders, strides or plyometrics. I simply enjoy the feel of the road under my feet, the sun on my skin and getting lost in my own thoughts and memories. That's enough for me.

For now.

You can take the runner out of the "runner's world" environment. You can give her a job, pregnancies, children and a home to care for. But you can't take the runner out of her. I passed the young girl in the midst of her workout. It felt good.

Race schedule?

1 comment:

Reed said...

Whoa you walked. I don't think you told me about this. As of now I am going to have to ask what races there are in Arkansas that allows gallowalkers?