train like a spectre week 1

day01

Temp: Cold but ice-free; not slippery

Shoes: These flat road shoes from the last marathon; damn are they comforable

Hunger: Moderate

Road wildlife: 1 lewd guy on a bicycle but he may have been senile and anyway I could’ve overpowered him if he wanted to make something of it

Today marks the first day of training for my 50-mile race. I’ve found a marathon to run on one of the days that will be running that mileage anyway, and on similar terrain as the real race to boot. I’ve purchased a Spectre running top. I’ve received a cool Spibelt and waterbottle from my dad who read an article about them. I’ve read blogs, by men and women, on this distance and in this area.

There wouldn’t be any reason to blog about it here. The search results that bring people here are for the most part entirely encrypted to me (except for that poor soul searching for Frodo/Sam porn from Saudi Arabia — I’m really sorry to have had nothing to offer there if only because even looking was probably dangerous for them), but I’m pretty sure most of those results have little do to with running. Mostly I think people keep hoping I posted the actual recipes from World of Thedas vol. 2 which, no. Buy the book, people.

But those blog posts I read, they vary markedly on gender. The blogs by men are rambling tales of terrain, famous runners glimpsed, and details about gels and stack heights. They carry on, even through injury, meticulously detailing their return to the road or trails, sometimes accompanied by lurid photographs of split nails and slashed-up ankles. They survive.

The blogs by women, taken in the long run, are sad. They start running. They stop running. They try to come back, and quit. In the meantime, their bodies have changed, or their loved ones are in the hospital, and they question not just why they run but why they do anything, and then the blog ends. I can’t count the number of running blogs written by women I’ve eagerly added to my RSS feed, only to see them fizzle out under completely understandable, and really upsetting, circumstances.

I can’t fix that. What needs fixing isn’t their blogs, its their — our — lives. My dad tells me my mother was found wandering the neighborhood yesterday. Eloping, they call it in doctor dementia speak. Running won’t escape that. It won’t bring your mom or your husband or your wife back; it won’t fix crap at your job or even make you look like a glossy magazine cover, since you’re going to be hungry as hell a whole lot of the time, and training for a race is not the time to starve yourself. Running, games, books, they won’t fix any of it. But…I don’t know. There are all these escapist narratives floating around, and their tone isn’t condescending exactly, but more like…predatory. “Your trap will snap,” the authors (or editors, or letters to the editor) seem to taunt. “This thing that you do lets you cope with this problem in your life, but when you can’t do it anymore your shit is going to hit the fan.”

This is a distinct possibility. But the running out of luck is no more likely for those of us who found an outlet than for those of us who didn’t. The people you love will still die; the job you wanted will still go to someone younger and more qualified; the news will continue to depress you. I don’t know what anyone expects us to do with the knowledge that our coping mechanisms are as fragile as our selves. Should we stop? Should we just curl into a ball and wait to forget ourselves and those around us, and wither away?

I did that on a floor in Japan for the better part of a day, when my mother was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and my significant other left me all at once. I lay there acquiring the pattern of the carpet in the side of my face, a dehydration headache from crying pounding between my ears, the rattling of every truck down our street feeling like the beginning of an earthquake.

And then I got up and ran. Through the middle of Tokyo. Because I can’t just lay there. I can’t just fizzle out like that. Even if I know my brain will break down as surely as will my knees. This bragging we do to each other over having had a “productive” day or weekend — I don’t understand this either. You were living, weren’t you? That’s productive. Keep doing that. Even when you most definitely know you can’t do it forever.

Especially then.

Run anyway.

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