On the first day of vacation, I ran a half-marathon. I did it the exact opposite of the way I've done it in the past. Reader(s), I trained. Take everything you know about me, about gravity, about the world, and wad it up in a McDonald's wrapper and chuck it from the window of your 1989 Ford sedan. The brown one with three hubcaps. While going 53 MPH on a two-lane highway. Just git the heck rid of it.
Actually, it started last year when I just didn't stop running (or, more often, ellipticalling) after the half-marathon. I decided I liked how running put the kabosh on all the queasiness and nervous brain-chatter that comes with being an adult person. And other reasons, including, mostly, I JUST LIKE RUNNING, OKAY? WHY DOES IT FEEL SO WEIRD TO JUST OWN THAT.
So long story short, I followed a training guide, mostly, with small instances of swapping this for that. On the day I did my 9 miler, it was sunny and, like, 90 degrees in a city that likes to max out in the low 70s. My breathing felt weird and echo-y, and I started to believe that the urban legend Runner Poops Her Pants was about to gain a "It Happened To Me: Munger Trail Edition." I decided to squash the long runs for the next month and focus on speed.
Then, the next weekend it was 53 and misting and all was right with the world so I shelved my ban and went for a 10 miler that was, literally, the best run of my life. The kind where every mile is a little faster and I raise my hands in victory and perform a karate chop at a fictional finish line. The kind where I do that thing I haven't done in eons: spend an entire drive home interviewing myself about my heroic return to running at, gasp, age 40.
Two days before the first day of vacation I woke up super fluttery and nervous. Turns out training for something is investing in it and if you fail, that 12 weeks of fartleks, all the cheese you didn't eat is, like, a total wash. As a person whose preferred state is "half-assin' it," I'd not recently encountered this sort of feeling. Also: I've been reading Ann Rule's book about Ted Bundy. The death count is high and the killer's techniques are quick, brutal and unfortunately clever. So maybe this anxiousness had nothing to do with running at all.
For the first time ever I didn't almost oversleep. For the first time ever I had time for a shot of coffee, a shower and a peanut butter and banana sandwich all at a leisurely morning pace. For the first time ever I barged in front of a bunch of well-behaved people standing in line at the DECC and just boarded the damn bus.
I spent the first three miles mad: At the Porta Potties, at the starting line, at the congestion of runners. I spent a lot of time jut-jogging this way and that. At four miles a gust of hot-hot armpit-like heat blasted me in the face. After that I got into a groove. There was a breeze. Much Beyonce. It's literally the only album on my iPhone. I didn't devil-talk to myself until about Mile 8. A demonic, "Why are you doing this? You can be a person who just runs like 5 miles, you know" echoed in my noggin. Around this time I started Math-ing and realized that, barring face plant, I was going to hit my goal. My knees hurt and so did my hips. I'd moved into "Lemonade: The Movie," which meant poetry and long pauses. But still.
So I finished in 1:59.20, a mere 40 seconds ahead of schedule and about 25 minutes faster than I've ever, ever run a half-marathon ever. I got very fizzy-nosed about it at the Finish.
"Would you have been happy if you'd finished in 2:05?" Pa Pista asked.
Yeah. It would have been close enough. It still would have been faster than ever.
Around mid-day I got all wide-eyed and started wondering if maybe I could run even faster ...
"Careful," a running fiend had said to me at the Y last week, after reminding me 90 times to relax on game-day. He had seen me doing a long run on a treadmill and I can only imagine that my shoulders were stuffed up close to my ears. "You might catch The Bug and want to be good," he said.
Maybe so. That would probably mean lifting weights, stretching, more quinoa, sleep. It might mean admitting that I give a rip.
On the first day of vacation, I also:
Ate an omelet with corned-beef hash and half of Chach's Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake for breakfast;
Drove to Great Lakes! Candy Kitchen in Knife River and found my new happy place (Knife River and Great Lakes! Candy Kitchen);
Wore a romper in public (and was totally cool with it and then later Googled more rompers and better rompers);
Ate Polenta and Pork Shoulder and a cheese plate and drank a glass of wine with Chuck at Northern Waters
Drank a glass of wine at Zeitgeist;
Went to "The Lobster," but couldn't get comfortable or keep my eyes fully open;
Slept the sort of sleep that sleepers dream of sleeping.