Running, Moss Beach Cliffs, October 2012
My idea of the perfect time to run is a fall day, with the sun out but with that crispness in the air that says that summer is fading away. The air smells especially clean in the clear skies after a rain. The variegated leaves crunch satisfyingly underfoot. Geese sing in a V-shaped overhead choir. Slug-dodging season starts in earnest.
Recent runs along the central coast lacked the crispness, but held another typical California autumn gift, with warm and stunning sunshine, not a hint of fog, and the last rasps of wind through golden-grassed hills not yet touched by the winter rains. I found myself on miles of dirt trails with a fog horn blaring for no apparent good reason. I was running above the surf, dreaming of how it will feel next September to be in such a setting but with 50 miles to cover, saying to myself, "well that felt good...only 42 miles to go!"
Perfection in running is a moment by moment thing. I felt fairly perfect for the first 10 miles of the Philadelphia marathon, then my body rebelled, and that was that. For me, it was disappointing but not devastating. I often wonder how the elites deal with heartbreak and the imperfection of bodies, race conditions, psychological well being, and dumb luck. Morgan Uceny should have medaled in the 1500m in the olympics. But she fell. Again.
Life is hard right now. As hard as I've seen. Perfection isn't even on the radar. I'm not even sure it would qualify for the seconds pile with an "as is, no returns" tag attached.
My coach once said running prepares you for the hard things in life. I used to think this meant the pain of running makes you tough. But I now think he meant that all you can do is lace up your shoes every day and do your best.
I guess if you are one of those barefoot runners, those will have to be metaphorical shoes.
Here's to the journey ahead!