Dragged myself out of bed for a run with the dog this morning. Why am I still feeling so sluggish two full months after Boston? The thrill of being on summer break from school is that I can allow myself this slow recovery time. Every day is a new start. It takes a good mile or more just to warm up, but the best part is stretching out after. My plan was to go out for a 5-6 mile run but on impulse I harnessed up the dog and took her out. Her paw has been bothering her so the plan was to take her for a mile and a half out and back then log in another two miles but by the time I got home and chatted with my neighbor on her way to work, I was ready to cool down and stretch and eat.
Today’s task: log in all my new footage. That includes everything I shot in the past year, including all the go-pro footage.
And begin the text for my narration. One big piece that I can begin today is my own story. This blog will be my sketchbook so I might as well begin here.
I started running in elementary school. Our gym teacher would have us run up the hill around the area where staff parked cars (hardly a parking lot) and back down to the gym door. Maybe we did laps. The total it couldn’t have been 400 meters. It seems funny now that at the same age Henry can run a 5k.
I ran as a teenager on and off. It was about a mile up the hill from my house to Michele Liebel’s house. So my standard route was a two mile loop, part of it through a stretch of road with no houses, just woods where I later I would x-country ski in the winter. If I made it a long run it was a 3 mile lop to the flashing light and back. Many of the women I speak with ran track in high school. Doing an organized sport, for whatever reason, wasn’t part of our family system. Was it too chaotic? Did we just not do anything organized? Am I willing to read into this a much more fundamental piece of my story (about personal achievement and neglect or maybe just ignorance.) We rode bikes. My sister, Paula, and I (and my dad) signed onto bike tours with American Youth Hostels. My dad rode his bike to work in the ’70’s when this was one more aspect of his eccentricity. He also baked bread, made most of the family dinners, and put up gallons of his spaghetti sauce with fresh sausage he would by from some ethic butcher somewhere is Albany. So my dad rode is bike to work and back—in the snow wearing battery-operated hunting socks—close to a 20 mile loop.
This may not have anything to do with the documentary and it may not be at all interesting to my readers but for me, I just saw a piece of the story I never realized. I see myself as unfocused and undisciplined: a scattered and flighty mind, albeit somewhat cheerful and excited, but lacking discipline. Watching Henry’s mind evolve is much like a mirror into my own mind. Running marathons fulfills my craving for discipline: clearly directly connected to my dad. What I admired most in him. This is another story to tell. Maybe my next novel, once I go back to my first one sitting in a ZIP drive somewhere…
Still, when adolescence kicked in with all the misery and awkwardness and self-loathing (ugh) those mile and half /two mile runs a few times a week kept me connected and grounded if only for a short time. When the depression was crippling, I didn’t run. And sometimes that was for months at a time. Other times I was dancing, classes a few times a week. Still throughout high school and then at Cornell, being able to run— always thinking of myself as “able to run” was an anchor, however flimsy at times, to keep myself upright. Or moving forward, however insignificantly.
This piece today isn’t the prettiest to write about, but it touches on the crux of why I run at all. As for the marathon, that part of the story will come soon enough.