Friday, August 8, 2014

Half Marathon Training: A Little Clarity

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.

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