Euphoria on the run


Over the past two weeks, I've discovered a few kinks in my self-designed Run Some, Be Fine plan. Namely, my motivation is harder to find than Amelia's other shoe when she's already five minutes late for school. I lie in bed after the alarm goes off at 5:20, planning to hit six or so miles, and say to myself, "O.K., two more snoozes and then I'll wake up." Instead, I wake up 40 minutes later, slingshot out the door with drool still slung across my cheek, go for three miles, and call it good.

My low point was two Sundays ago. I had put 12 on my build-long-run-by-one-mile weekly schedule, and I forced myself out around 8:30 a.m. It was hot for April in Denver -- and I immediately regretted wearing my 110 percent cargo capris. My legs were lead. Usually I don't get that weighted-down feeling until at least mile six, but seriously, about 10 steps from my house, I was ready to stop. I kept going, thinking that I could break on through to the other side, but after about 45 minutes, I decided to head home.

I can't remember the last time I didn't finish what I set out to do, and it didn't sit well with me. I rested on Monday, and before going to bed on Tuesday, I told Grant that I was getting up to do 12. This time for sure. "Why?" he asked, "I don't think you need to do that." But I gave him my spiel -- my race in Nashville in two weeks, every long run so far had been surprisingly hard for me, I have to represent. And he, rational being that he is, wasn't buying it. So I trashed the idea of 12, and decided that I'd just keep my workouts short and play my luck out on the road. (Hey, that sounds like a country music song; stay tuned for my country music playlist, btw.)

But I had one more chance to gain some confidence. This past Saturday, I had to squeeze in my miles before a 9 a.m. soccer game. The chilly air greeted me and my cargo capris (perfect choice this time) at 6:15, and I set out to do part of the route I abandoned last time. I clicked off eight with barely an issue, and extended my run by another half-mile or so, because everything just felt so right. By right, I mean, I hardly walked, and ran up every hill, which hasn't happened in a long time. Every (overplayed) song on my Nano was perfect, and every time I looked at my watch, I was surprised at how much time had passed. Watch out, Nashville, I thought, I'm coming for you next weekend, as Pink raised a glass for me during the last downhill home.

I came home, gushed to Grant about how amazing that run was, then told him, "I want to bottle it," repeating a line I'd heard skydivers use about their sport. (I jumped once, and am glad I did, but have no desire to fling myself out of a plane again.) But I understand what they're saying, and a run through Utopia makes me want my own elixir. I want to sip that water before the starting line in Nashville. I want to have it at my disposal when all my systems are no.

Unlike skydiving, when you know hurtling towards the ground will give you that life-is-precious high, there is no guaranteed rush in running. No certainty that every run is going to be euphoric. No pre-packaged bottled feeling you know you get to enjoy. I gutted out every run from the Quadrathlon until Saturday -- more than two months -- to finally get an unexpected taste of bliss.

On Saturday, I remembered why I choose to run. All those hard and mediocre miles bring me to a place very few people get to visit: heaven on their own two legs.

So even if I drag my bad-ass in Nashville (another potential country song?), I'll try to reassure myself with the knowledge that every bad or mundane run still brings me closer to another precious sip.

Raise a glass indeed.