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If you can fill the unforgiving minute ... with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run ... Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.
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Monthly Archives: February 2010
My eyes are open at 5:40, twenty minutes before my alarm is to go off. There is no point in rolling over and attempting to squeeze an extra twenty minutes of sleep out of the night; instead, I sit up in the dark, stretch, and reach for the light. Although part of me would prefer the sleep, up twenty minutes early means I get to run an extra two miles or so. Seems an ok trade off.
It is cold and dark and another inch of snow has fallen during the night. It is February in Cleveland, Ohio and we’re deep into the Dark Ages — where the sun never seems to shine, the sky is always some shade of gray, and the snow has been piled up in massive heaps that are taller than I am. It has been snowing off and on (mostly on it seems) for four months now.
It is the time of year where it easy to lose motivation. I’ve been mostly running inside on the treadmill or the impossibly small indoor track. Everyone is snow weary and even the best people have mainly given up the Sisyphean task of trying to clear the snow; the sidewalks are for all practical purposes impassable and the only place to run is in the road. In the road means with the cars, of course. Running in the road is always an iffy proposition under the best circumstances. Running in the road in the dark with sleepy drivers when there are no longer any shoulders and the surface is covered in a thin layer of snow that hides patches of ice is hazardardous at best.
Still, though, I have found myself missing the wildness of outdoor running. The treadmill and the track are too warm, too sterile, too precise. I like the uncertainty and the slight element of danger that outdoor running brings: the rolls of the ground, the bite of the wind, the snowflakes falling into my eyes. So this morning I’m putting on my screw shoes and heading outside.
Motivation has been no issue this winter. I’m not driven to run by my desire to perform well in a race. I’m not driven to run to lose weight. I’m not even driven to run by the pursuit of good health (truth be told, I’d run even if a study unequivocally proved that running shortens the lifespan). Instead, what drives me out the door is that I love running. I’m not sure how many people run because they just love to run. Sometimes other runners even look at me strangely, like they don’t understand how I could, really, love running. But really that’s the whole reason I run — I run just for the sake of running, to glide over the ground, to be free, to do something I love to do. Ever since going through treatment for cancer when I would literally ache to be able to run, I have not had trouble getting out the door even on the coldest, darkest, snowiest mornings. If I ever feel like not running for myself, why, then I’ll run for someone who would love to run but can’t.
So I find myself where I find myself just about every morning — out running. And it is a good feeling just to be out running. Life can change in a very fast and frightening instant — in the morning you’re out running your usual 10K loop, in the evening your lying in the hospital and your eyesight is threatened. Although still struggling with my eye (it continues to hurt around the cheekbone and I have strange floaters and weird spots when I move my eye), I’m very thankful to be out running with two useful eyes. I’ve started to wonder just how many scrapes like this I can have and not end up with a real disability. After all, despite suffering some lung damage from chemo, I don’t really have anything so wrong with me that it effects my running or my day to day life. I’m thankful to have survived another scrape mostly in tact (my eye, hopefully, will continue to get better).
Which is good because my eyes have a lot of things they still need to see and take in and behold. Like this morning, for example This morning my eyes (the good one and the not so good one) get to drink in some beautiful sights on what is just my ordinary running route — the heavy snow on a green pine tree, the sudden bright red flash of a male cardinal, a big brown buck in the middle of a front yard, the slow purpling of the eastern sky as the sun rises behind the clouds, the gradual lightening of the new day.
It is a good day to be a runner and I’m very glad I chose to run outside today.