Thursday, November 24, 2005


Platt Loop II 17mi

I’ve finally made my way back to the seventeen-mile long run that I missed several weeks ago. This week I pushed it to Thursday because of other obligations, and Thanksgiving Day seemed like the perfect time to burn off a few thousand calories. I usually spend the day cooking and, despite my gluttonous desires, when it comes time to eat, I can never really pack it in the way I would like. Today will be different.
Today we are going to a friend’s house to eat and we have only been tasked with one of the turkeys and a few sides. The turkey has been marinating in mojo for a few days, and I have talked Jan into tending to it while I run. After some last minute shopping, the bird is in the oven and I’m out the door.
I haven’t taken the time to map out a new route, so I follow the Platt Loop with a couple of changes to accommodate the increased mileage. The first mile passes easily, and I am surprised by how loose I feel. My stride is relaxed and I’m not struggling. This is usually the point where I start trying to increase the pace, but today I’m right where I need to be and I’m happy to be there. The first two miles come in right around twenty minutes and I wonder if I should hold back a little, but I’m still feeling good and I’m pretty sure that I can maintain.
I have always been fascinated with rhythm, and I think this is one of the things that attracts me to running. Somewhere inside this rhythm is where runner’s high is experienced. It’s like highway hypnosis at slower speeds. This running trance is what I crave, where my thoughts are limited to snippets of old songs, and my breaths, heartbeats, and footsteps are all multiples of each other. The feeling is hard to attain on shorter runs. It seems to take me about forty-five minutes just to get through the myriad distractions of muscle cramps, achy joints, to-do lists, and blog topics.
The Zen of running is the same as any other activity. It works best when it is completely ignored. Thinking destroys it. Concentrating on form leads to bad form.
I find it hard to understand people who say that running bores them. Boredom is the product of an active mind with a lack of adequate stimulus. When I run, the stimuli never seem to be lacking. Yet, if I’m lucky, I can block it all out and my mind will be still. I don’t think about anything at all. One. Two. Three.
My observations and writings are made after the fact. I repeat the run and follow along from above, picking out landmarks here and there, and recalling vignettes that have left an almost subliminal imprint on my memory of the day’s run.
So I can say this. I ran for three hours today and I don’t remember much about it. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. A breeze was blowing. Everything was closed for Thanksgiving. I paid four dollars for a bottle of water at the Ramada downtown.
What I remember most is a rhythm. At Blake High School I follow the sidewalk south along the seawall, across the river from Tampa Armature Works. When the wind changes direction, suddenly I can hear a burglar alarm blaring from across the river and I realize that my footfalls are in perfect time with its incessant yelp. The wind changes again and it’s just my footsteps, breathing, and the blood in my ears.
An hour later I’m running north on the river’s eastern bank with the high school across the river to my left, and I hear the alarm again. My feet are still falling in time and I’m pleased to be maintaining my pace after two hours of running. It grows louder as I cut through the park where homeless men lounge in the grass, apparently oblivious to the noise. Slowly, the sound fades as the building passes to my left, but the siren continues to broadcast my cadence to the river as I move silently towards home.


Post a Comment

<< Home