There’s a saying I made up called “Running While Girl” or RWG. We ladies understand this without question. The hormones jerk our feelings in every direction sometimes within a mere 24 hours. For me, it’s mostly irritability. Everything and anything gets on my nerves. Lately, though, it’s been melancholy mixed with the irritable and anyone with depression knows the melancholy amplifies emotional situations and wraps them in a tarp of sadness. It is a very frustrating time for us as well as those we love. Depression whispers those sweet nothings in your ear, telling you the 20 mile run can wait till next week or maybe you can do it tomorrow since you have the extra day off anyway.
So admitted, I didn’t want to be out running, I wanted to stay home in my bed and ignore the world. What got me out of bed was the promise of tomorrow’s chance to sleep in and not be anywhere within the hour of waking up. So I got up and got dressed and went outside and got in the car and drove to the lot and got out and started running. I was running the whole 20 miles on my own, no one was going to meet me at any point along the way. The plan, formulated on my way to the parking lot, was to run Texas Beach to North Bank to the Slave Trail to the new-to-me Poop Loop to the Flood Wall to Buttermilk to Forest Hill back to Buttermilk and back across the bridge to the car. I was hoping that would get me real close to 20 miles and it got me to 19, thank fucking god, because doing loops can be a soul crusher on the best of days.
I didn’t recruit any partners because I wanted to be outside alone enjoying the process. It is difficult to get trail runners to join together in their efforts because we all run in nature for the same reason: to enjoy the solitude and find peace. Running outside in the woods is our church. I didn’t want the distraction of people chatting. I needed to be alone with my thoughts and surrender myself to all the feelings. Trail running allows us to just be, to focus on only the next 3-5 minutes in front of us and I craved the solitude of that driven purpose.
For that reason this long run was cathartic. The first 5 miles was just okay; I was fighting for every step beginning with the first. I ran across the pipeline and the sound of rushing water began to work its magic on my bruised insides. When I got to the Slave Trail I took a picture of the new plaque and one of the older sign, noted the mileage because I might want to get a group together to run this part of the route, and took off again. It was at this point that I began to feel my awareness shift. I began to recognize the strength in my legs, how they were no longer sore and achy from all the miles dug into the dirt. It was still a comfortable temperature with clear skies and a bright sun.
That section of the Slave Trail is only a mile long and it was littered with trash that I picked up as best I could (so much fishing line). Then I took my first official break to swallow a gel and drink more Skratch water. Then off to the Poop Loop I went. Thankfully some mountain bikers came up behind me and led the way to the trail so I knew where to go. It’s only 2 miles but it’s so pretty and wind-y, I loved it yet it felt like I was in there forever.
Only single track and set up for mountain bikes, it was mostly flat and shaded. It’s called the Poop Loop because it swings alongside our Water Treatment Facility. There is also a petroleum pipeline that runs through the area, that was interesting. Upon exiting the Poop Loop, funnily enough I needed to visit the porta-potty. The coincidence was not lost on me and it gave me a chance to check on the blisters on my left foot that had been irritated by Saturday’s run. They were holding on, not causing much discomfort.
I headed toward the flood wall after this, picking up more fishing line to throw into the myriad trashcans along the way. The flood wall is on the southern side of the city and meant to keep the river from getting into the city if it ever floods bad enough. The gates have come in handy in the past, once they even kept the water in so well the lower levels of the city flooded anyway. There is bridge maintenance happening and they have blocked off the parts of the wall that go under this bridge. It’s very frustrating. The crews have figured out we’re getting in and around their signs and have constructed ways to keep us out no matter what. They even put of heavy wire fencing on the sides of the railing to keep us from climbing over that way. Damn. So I went back the way I came, but it worked out perfectly because there is a train yard on the non-river side and as I crossed the bridge that went over the tracks, a train was getting ready to leave. I got to get video for my iRun4 buddy of the train emerging from under the pedestrian bridge and heading onto the trestle that went across the river into the city. It was beautiful.
I saw friends in Forest Hill, a couple of groundhogs, a squirrel who was too busy burying whatever s/he had to care I was running by, no deer this time and lots of birds to include cardinals. I figured out the dizzy lightheaded feeling I get during marathons is due to nutrition not hydration yet every time I eat a whole gel I have to find a bathroom within 10 minutes. So I have 8 more long runs to find something to eat that won’t upset my stomach that will also satisfy that accumulation theory and the Former EC.
The best part of the run: somewhere around the 16th mile I realized the brooding moodiness I felt at the beginning of the run had been replaced by a confidence in myself that had sprung from the strength and faith I had in my body. When I started I couldn’t wait to finish and had resigned myself to ending the run whenever I got back to my car even if that wasn’t a full 20 miles. By mile 18 I was telling myself I hadn’t come this far to quit just shy of the goal. It was during that 16th mile that I came up with the name for this post, finding it exhilarating that I had allowed the muscles in my body to determine my mood instead of the usual shift of perspective which involves using our brain and some serious thinking. I don’t remember ever going into a long run feeling overwhelmed and thinking, “OMG, this is going to take forever.” I allow myself to take it moment by moment, break to break, to feel all the feelings and get them done. This run reminded me how that approach has worked so well for me and how confidence of self isn’t a simple changing of perspective. Who said the body doesn’t have a part in it as well? I love feeling the power move with me, don’t you? It’s totally badass.
So yeah, the body sure does transcend.