A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence--the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes--all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand. [Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild]I recently finished reading Into the Wild (I really enjoyed it!) and I found the above quote not too far from the end. Krakauer is talking about climbing a mountain, of course. But those words really resonated with me because recently, it occurred to me that something similar happens when I am out running--my mind grows quiet. My focus resettles on the rhythm of my breathing and footfalls, my surroundings, my pace and energy. When I am finished, I can hardly believe it is over sometimes--did I really run that far? Somewhere along the line, the actual act of running became more instinctual, more habitual, more natural. To the point where I don't really have to think about it. That's a really amazing feeling!
There are those times where I do have to think about it, though, and when they happen, I am grateful. It is a good reminder to me of how far I have come, but just how far I still have yet to go. To think that two and a half years ago I couldn't run more than 30 seconds at a time and now I am training for a half marathon is pretty astonishing to me sometimes. I am not very fast--and I have lost a little bit of that, even, thanks to the earlier part of the summer--but I am getting faster, and each run is a little bit better. I'm running, one foot in front of my other, getting in the best shape of my life. And the cramp in my calf muscle on mile 3 of 4.27 on a humid afternoon with sweaty sunscreen dripping into my eye? It's worth it.
There is exactly month until the Chicago Half Marathon. Though it was a rough start at first, I am more or less on track and hoping that come September 7th, I will be ready. I am determined, but I am also listening to my body and trying to take care of myself as best as I can. I have wanted to complete a half marathon for a long time, and I am excited (and, yes, terrified, heh) to see what I am capable of. So, here we go! I'm definitely looking forward to running another race in the most beautiful city in the world, finding that sweet clarity, the quiet calm of a clear mind, right there on Lake Shore Drive.