looking back

After an 8 mile run and an evening climbing at the gym with Henry’s camp group, I thought I’d give myself a break and trade rest days. Rest Thursday/ short run Friday. Climbing in the gym is almost like running on a treadmill, in some ways. It’s a substitute for the real thing. Climbing on real rock allows not only for a vast range of possibilities and creative combinations, but maybe just as important the rewards of scenery and, on a long climb, the thrill of sitting on top of a cliff (tied in to an anchor) hanging feet over the edge. Still, climbing in the gym has the rewards of some creative movement and the joy of completing a climb neatly while there is nothing at all enjoyable about the treadmill.

With Henry starting to take an interest in climbing and my getting back on the wall once and a while, I am forced to reckon with giving away my collection of climbing gear and writing those experiences out of my life entirely. And I have to reckon with the reality that running just doesn’t fulfill that primal sense of joy that I knew as a climber. Right now, I continue to struggle with either a hamstring or knee that sort of hurts when I run but not enough to stop my training. But at this point, with all that is asked of me at work and at home running and training brings discipline and consistency into the day, and the week. After a run I feel balanced and clear headed. I never felt that way as a climber. I was pretty much always on edge. And I forget that is the primary reason I decided to move on. I couldn’t stand the tension.
Running just makes me a little more fretful and neurotic but it also more directly serves me in my daily life.

I have a neighbor who might be in his 50’s. I’m guessing close to my age. I see him out running a lot. Sometimes I see him on his bike. The other day I was stopped at a light near VCU and he was on the corner waiting for the light to turn. I rolled down the window to say hi and asked him how long he was out for. “3,” he replied. “Miles?” I asked, confused since we were about three miles from our neighborhood and he answered, “Hours.” I saw him the next day and he says he used to race and now just enjoys running. He reminded me to just enjoy the run. This is one of my challenges to enjoy the run more and fret less about pace, or time or about the next long run. Not counting miles down and telling myself how many more to go. Just enjoying the run.


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