With a couple of months of consistent running now completed, I feel like I’m starting to regain my legs. As you know, in mid-winter a bad bout of plantar (“Oh, here he goes again,” you say, “back to his endless whining about his poor widdle foot”), I took it slow and easy.
This week I managed to get a couple of shorter, long runs in – if you catch my drift. A week ago I ran 23 km (detailed in the post titled In which I return to Halifax and run), and today I ran 24 km.
I found it tough, not least because of the pace set by my comrades, who shall remain nameless: Nick, Leah Jabbour, Shawn Beaton and Clint.
Oh dang: I haven’t quite gotten the whole investigative journalism thing and the use of unnamed sources down yet. I’m going to have to work on that.
We left the club bright and early, everyone looking hale and chipper – with me gamely groaning and bringing up the rear, trying my best not to disrupt everyone with my exclamatory pleas and semi-silent weeping.
We headed toward Halifax’s North End while I tried to postpone the inevitable. “We could stop for water here.”
And, “This looks like a great, really great, place for a break.”
And, “Wow, I sure am tired and would like to stop for just one red light once.”
No one picked up on my subtle hints.
In fact, Nick looked like he was on a mission. Now I’m pretty sure said mission was to run hard to toughen himself up for long stretches at a fast pace. But then again, it could have just been to make me cry.
The pace picked up.
You already know how this is going to play out. Or so you think.
Actually after about five miles of trying to talk myself out of the run, I told myself it was time to get serious, settle in and suffer. And maybe even relax a little. Well, I did both and even got comfortable for a bit.
I was actually starting to enjoy the run.
But that wouldn’t last.
In Dartmouth, we ran along a new-to-me waterfront path that rolled a bit and the humidity seemed to rise and suddenly my breathing was ragged.
I realized I was a long way from home, a lo-o-o-o-ong way. Just in case you don’t understand, I was a million fucking miles out and ready to walk. And cry. Just a little, mind you.
A little gap opened – just a small gap. I started working hard; no, I’m not referring to running, but rather I pleaded and made bargains: “Just let me close this gap and I’ll never run again…er, wait, no, that’s not right! Just let me close this gap and I’ll give up French fries forever!”
Right at the path’s end, I closed the gap.
Later on in the day the French fries tasted better than ever.
But I digress.
As we turned around, I suddenly felt that deceptive feeling of goodwill and strength that settles on runners mid-way through a long run. I powered to the front, my first time all day and stayed there until we hit downtown Dartmouth and the hill.
I suffered on the hill. Nick and Leah didn’t. Jauntily, they sprinted up like it was a small rise in the road. Fortunately we stopped for water on the Dartmouth side.
As everyone prepared to get underway again, I stalled for time. “I just need to finish this cup of water. Okay, now I just need another cup. Wait, wait, don’t go yet! I have to have this gel and then drink some more water. Hold on, wait, wait, wait….”
But the time was up.
Nick and Leah took off. I opted to hang back with Shawn and Clint. We turned onto Brunswick Street, a road whose true length I’d never fully appreciated before. It stretched into the next century. With every step I took, the road just seemed longer than before. It was like a treadmill, slipping under my feet, the landscape sliding past without me ever getting any closer to my goal.
Ultimately, we hit Queen Street, and then Bland Street and then – joy of joys – South Bland Street! I kneeled and kissed the ground, grateful tears springing from my eyes.
“Home!” I shouted. “Ha ha ha, home!”
The other club runners shook their head in dismay. I didn’t care. I knew what was in my future now. A marathon…after some French fries, of course.