Mile-8 Adventures, continued...
Before I get into the details of today’s Mile-8 Adventure on my L-O-N-G training run for the Marine Corps Marathon (October 28th, and yikes! less than 3 weeks away), I’d like to clarify a couple of things about Mile-8… a couple of things that a friend has brought to my attention. Hmmmm. This friend is a realist and I love her for this. She’s rather mathematical. I’m not. She thinks in terms of numbers and statistics. I don’t.
This friend has lovingly brought to my attention that it’s statistically impossible for something amazing to happen at every single Mile-8 of an individual long training run.
But this is where we differ. You see, I’m a dreamer… cue John Lennon here:
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.
I explained to this friend that, of course, I know about percentages and statistics and mathematics and realism and all that good stuff. But I don’t think like that. I don’t add like that. I don’t run like that. When I began running 4 years ago, I did it for the fun of it. The joy of it. The feeling of belonging to something… like lots of those people running and racing and just plain old finishing. Finishing something. Sweaty hugs, camaraderie and all.
I track my miles only because it’s the way to train for a race, particularly a L-O-N-G race, like a marathon. I understand that miles are progressively added and added and added over many weeks for physical (and emotional) power and endurance-building (including the famous once-weekly LONG run). I get this. I do this. I follow a rather structured, mathematical plan.
But this is where my mind deviates from that structure: I RUN FOR JOY OF RUNNING. Outdoors. Nature. People. Kids. Animals. Birds. Sounds. I let my best friend Endomondo do all the math stuff while I just enjoy the run. And the way I grab my joy is noticing and acknowledging things as they happen all along my running route on any particular day.
I told my realistic friend that things happen on every moment of every run. Take today’s run, for example. There were heavy clouds that took the shapes of fish and boats and even big-clawed monsters. There was a huge barge in the bay with the brightest red hull I’ve ever seen. I imagined the dozens of people it must have taken to paint that hull as red as the ripest strawberry so it could be seen for miles. There were fishermen in tiny boats being tossed around like toys in a bathtub and I could see their poles and lines ready for the take. There were two men buzz-sawing a twisted, fallen branch of a monstrous tree in the park. There were people all bundled in jackets with hoods and scarves and even mittens on this cold, cold day as I ran in just a tank top ‘cuz I get so hot when I’m running. There was the still, empty outdoors Chapel on the hill that until just recently housed marriage ceremonies almost every time I did a weekend run.
And then there’s the Mile-8 Adventures. These just happen to fall, randomly, on Mile-8. I acknowledge them. It’s that simple. That un-mathematical. That realistic, if I may use that word in terms I understand!
I just happen to tune in to every moment. Like today.
I was running along as my miles were called out by Endo… and I decided to do several loops inside my local park because I could run with the wind at my back. Miles 1 – 8 encompassed lots of the above joyful things, but as Endo called out Mile-8, I found myself literally face-to-face with a seagull perched on a cement bridge piling…
… staring at me with with the indifference of a bird who sees people in this park all day, every day.
I slowed my pace on the bridge for a few moments to enjoy this lovely connection with this creature, indifference and all… and I remembered the last couple of lines of a poem I once taught:
*No clay-born lilies of the world
Could blow as free
As those wild orchids of the sea…
And I silently wished that this seagull, this wild orchid of the sea, would gift me with its blow as free flight on this Mile-8 of this windy, windy day.
Instead, the seagull turned away with what I imagined a silent harumph of I’m not here to entertain you…
… and then changed her mind.
Gifting me with the lift and carriage of the wings (although I’m certain that my realistic friend will lovingly say that the seagull saw something tasty that needed to be caught. And that’s OK. For her!)
And then she was gone.
You see, if I logged in miles in terms of mathematics, I honestly don’t think I could or would run. I’m too unrealistic for all those numbers when there’s so much room for adventures, for dreaming, for seagulls at Mile-8 that blow as free/
As those wild orchids of the sea.
THIS, my lovingly realistic friend and friends, is what makes my LONG runs, and ANY run, poetic.
*I found the poem: Sea Gulls by Canadian literary figure Edwin John Pratt
For one carved instant as they flew,
The language had no simile—
Silver, crystal, ivory
Were tarnished. Etched upon the horizon blue,
The frieze must go unchallenged, for the lift
And carriage of the wings would stain the drift
Of stars against a tropic indigo
Or dull the parable of snow.
Now settling one by one
Within green hollows or where curled
Crests caught the spectrum from the sun,
A thousand wings are furled.
No clay-born lilies of the world
Could blow as free
As those wild orchids of the sea.