I went for a run this weekend. In my past life I couldn't wait to get out the door early on a Saturday morning, sometimes starting my runs in the dark. I've even been known to wake up earlier on a Saturday then I did during the week just for the run. The run (or massive 100 mile bike ride) was the event. Now the run is just something I work into my weekend. This particular the run was how I did some errands and I finally found time for it late on Sunday afternoon. I had to drop off my keys at my realtor's house (anybody want to buy an efficiency apartment with a fantastic view of Rock Creek Park, a few steps from the red line in North Bethesda?), stop at an ATM, and mail a few bills (my bills are paid via the internet, but the wife is old fashioned). On the way home I had a solid 2.5 miles to think. I thought about a lot of things, my stride, the weather this winter, should the Redskins draft or trade for a Quarterback, I thought about a problem at work, I thought about a yoga class I took recently and the teacher kept talking about the rhythm. The rhythm of my breath should control the rhythm of my practice. That got me to thinking, there is something different about my running now, something subtle but sustantially and fundamentally different. The rhythem of my foot strikes.
That sound, that particular and unique rhythem, I've heard it so much in my life that it sort of blended into the background of my thoughts. I never really noticed it until it changed. My stride has quickened a bit and the pitch is a little higher. It used to be a sort slow steady beat, like...
slap slap slap slap
...but now its more like a...
tap tap tap tap
....a little faster, a little higher in pitch, a little quicker tempo'd. I'm not sure if I am making any sense but it was someting I noticed and thought was interesting.
So as I continue to flush out the next insights to my thoughts disguised as a blog, I find that it is a week after I first started typing this particular entry. I had to put the old 'puter down for a little while as life got in the way. But I went for another run tonight and it gave me some more time to think. Tonight I started to try to work in my new Merrill barefoot trail glove shoe. I'm not ready to run a full 4 miles in it yet, but I could do a little bit. So I did what any one of you would do. I started in the new ones and then changed shoes back to Brooks the Green Hornets after about a mile or two. I brought them in a little backpack. As I swung by a park bench on the other side of town I sat down for a few minutes to change shoes. It felt like I couldn't have run much further on the barefoot shoes without it really starting to do some damage. The Hornets finished the run just fine. I think this might be a reasonable plan. As I start slowly getting my body used to the barefoot shoes I still want to just ease into it a mile or so at a time. Maybe I'll just add one mile per week per month just like I did tonight. Should I even bring a backpack to my first trail race next weekend? That would really go against my nature. But maybe my nature has changed, maybe it's no longer my nature to try to beat people and place as high as I can in a race. I guess that question will be answered later (and then blogged about).
As I sit here sipping a decaf coffee, drinking a large tumbler of water and eating Otterbein's Sugar cookies I start to recall last weeks run. I recall my lower legs really being on fire for the last 10 minutes or so. I remember the maiden voyage in the barefoot shoes about two weeks ago and how I couldn't walk right for about three days afterwards, it felt about the same as my first few marathons, but in the lower legs only. The rest of my body felt fine. I know for sure that tonight and tomorrow I will feel a lot better then I did two weeks ago. I also remember last week as my legs were just on fire that it also felt familiar. It felt familiar because I was going deep. Going deep inside myself , inside to find my resolve and inside to find my inner drive, my inner strong, my inner bad ass that is always with me but doesn't often show his face to the public. But I need that inner bad ass to show his face once or twice every year or so. I think it keeps me in balance. There are only so many days I can do the ordinary before I start getting the urge, the need to do something extra-ordinary. Maybe that's part of the reason I want to do the JFK50, the need to go deep. It might not be here yet, I realize that I'll have a lot of life getting in the way for the next few years but I also know that I have to have a goal on the other side to help pull me thru. But, I feel as if I'll be ready, physically and emotionally ready to go deep, real deep. But not for about 21 months. I also have started to think that a man (as in mankind, some chicks can be pretty bad ass too) can only go real deep only so many times in his life. So I'm not going to waste one of my last trips to the depths on anything less then a real big hairy audacious MF goal.