“Auuhhh!” that’s what involuntarily slips out of my mouth (or is it from my muscles?) as I announce the first of eight strides following a run at a loop I’ll call Placitas in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The next seven strides feel better, but drills, stretching, and consuming recovery drinks is done in silence. I am that kind of tired. It’s a sign of the times: Marathon Training. The time when every ounce of my energy goes into training and I do all that I can to save mental and physical energy in order to recover and go after it again on the next hard day. It’s when I secretly enjoy a brief car ride home for a bit of solidarity and a chance to process the prior run.
Back in the parking lot I didn’t want anyone to mention running the loop again or the next time I’d tackle it, but midway through the drive I was thinking about how I wanted to face it again and what I’d do in order to run it faster. It’s the kind of place that’s a runner’s siren. It calls you back to buck up and prove what you are made of; it’s gritty and relentless and it bites your butt and serves you a piece of humble pie. It embraces a runner’s spirit—my spirit.
As I prepare for the 2014 Boston Marathon, Placitas reminds me of the beauty of rebounding and becoming stronger. That day, even as my lungs and legs screamed up the ascend, all my mind could think was, “Boston Strong! You got this.” I might have even made the thought audible as my running partner, Teresa, seemed to nod in agreement. Midway through the run he told me “Good job, this is hard.” That lone statement was the only current acknowledgment of the difficulty of our trek. I knew it was hard. We both did. But that’s why it was worthwhile, and that’s why we’ll be back there again next week.
The unity of runners is special, whether chatter accompanies the run, or simply footsteps and breathing, and of course the occasional announcement of the body groaning. They are all signs that let me know I am putting in the work.