What is it with me and Mile-8 on my L-O-N-G Monday runs?
Today, my L-O-N-G training run with Runner’s World Challenge for the Marine Corps Marathon (October 28th) was the longest run of the training – 20 miles.
Did I just write 20 miles?
Yes, 20 miles.
I normally do not run loops because I’m afraid that I’ll get bored with the repetition, especially on L-O-N-G runs, but I knew that four 5-mile loops around my local park would bring me, each loop, exactly back to my back door.
Because of the 20 miles, I stashed at my back door entrance lots of fluids (yes, even an iced coffee for a shot of caffeine), food (I crave Ritz Whole Wheat crackers and Almond Butter when I run… go figure), Shot Blocks, a Muscle Milk bar to nibble on, Biofreeze for any leg cramps that may arise, water with good stuff mixed in it for muscle recovery and a pen to record when I’ve headed back home…
Then I ran my loops… 5 nice ‘n easy miles as specified in my training program, and some food and hydration at my back door; then on to 5 more nice ‘n easy miles…
I run with my cell phone on my best running friend ever, Endomondo, tucked into a tiny waist pack, and Endo calls out my miles and my splits. Today, a little bit after Endo called out Mile-7, I found myself behind a beautiful older dog and her owner… the dog off-leash and silent but for the tiniest, tiniest clicks of paw-nails on the asphalt. I kinda identified with that “older” dog as I paced myself up the formidable hill right behind the dog…
… and as I passed the man, I told him how beautiful his dog is. He smiled and said, “Her name’s Lacy. She’s 10.” I stopped for a moment to pat the top of Lacy’s beautiful head, and then headed onto the most secluded half-mile or so in the park, a slight downhill bordered with lots of lush trees and greens and both sun and shade.
I wasn’t thinking much of Mile-8 Magic as I ran along.
But suddenly, I caught sight of a large, raised metal object… sitting maybe 6-or-so inches above ground, surrounded with fresh-cut grass. As I got closer, I realized that it was a manhole cover. Just then, Endo called out Mile-8. The thing is, I LOVE MANHOLE COVERS. Quirky? Maybe. But in my former life as an English/Reading teacher (30 years worth), I always included the poem Manhole Covers, by Karl Shapiro, as part of my Poetry Units…
The beauty of manhole covers–what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names
(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away will lie
Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty.
I’ve actually spent a great deal of time photographing manhole covers in just about every town/city/place I’ve visited. And here, on this path that I’ve used most possibly hundreds of times (going back decades to when I carried my own children as babies on the back of my bicycle), was a manhole cover that I had missed. Until today. On Mile-8 of a L-O-N-G run…
… strong with its sculptured, notched, whelked, poked, smashed-with-name cryptic American beauty.
The beauty of manhole covers? Like Mayan calendar stones.
Manhole covers fascinate me. Bitten at the edges. SILENT works of art. “Shhhhhhhh,” it seemed to be saying to me, “just enjoy my mottoed beauty.” ELECT. Something electrical under it? I don’t know. But I felt happy to have discovered it.
I will never run or bike or drive past that manhole cover again without admiring its beauty, its design, its sculpture… and wonder what great savage khan created it.
Oh, how I love the Mile-8 Magic of my l-o-n-g training runs!
(And, oh… this is me WTFinishing those 20 miles of four 5-mile loops!) –