Monday, January 25, 2010

1,000 Miles From Nowhere

I am about a week late at getting this posted. I have been trying to get something up once a week. I have been writing quite a bit lately. I have a dear friend in England that I have been corresponding with and it has forced me to get into some additional writing sessions. I find the more I write the more it flows. I probably have 2 or 3 other posts worth of material, but they have not made it to finished form yet.

Last Sunday night I had a lot on my mind. The previous 3-5 days required a large commitment of mental agility and decision-making. I had to make some quick, critical decisions during this time and I could not afford to be wrong even one time. My runs last week kept me balanced and were a much needed outlet to organize my thoughts and at times completely clear my head of any thought.  I was calling on the run tonight to provide the same relief.

The order of this evening will be an easy jaunt to the gym for a quick but intense workout followed by an easy cruise home. I change clothes and head out the door to run to the gym. As I walk out the back door I notice that it is barely misting. The temp is still 70 degrees even though the sun is down. It is nice. Off comes the shirt. I love Texas winters.  It is the middle of January and I can run almost naked in the dark and work up a good sweat! I do not lose the shorts, although that could be stimulating. Let's just say the route to the gym is not conducive to streaking.

I let the music in my headphones push me down the road. "1000 Miles from Nowhere" by Dwight Yoakum is track one right out of the gate. It is a song I love to use to get moving and establish an easy rhythm. This song always reminds me to let things go and be fully present in the moment and enjoy every step of my run at that time. It is a gift of this moment that I do not take for granted. Some U2 and The Doors deliver me to the gym. 3 miles in 22 minutes and I feel bullet proof.

I did not plan on going that fast, but lately the running Gods have been smiling on me. I am lathered up in a full sweat from head to toe standing outside the gym. There is a regular stream of people trudging in and out of the gym entrance. They look like they should be coming out of a restaurant or a mall. None of them look like they did anything physical in the gym tonight. Most look like they have been frequenting the Chinese buffet on an all too regular basis. It is January. Most will give up on another year of their health before we get too deep into February.

I throw my shirt on and go inside. A quick pit stop to splash some cold water on my face and I hit the weights for an hour. Tonight is mostly core work. I am already warmed up so on my first set I am already sweating profusely. The sweat looks like rain dripping off the brim of my cap after a few minutes.

I have my trail shoes on of course. They tops are still all muddy from last night’s run. They are actually still muddy from a whole month of Saturday’s. You can barely tell what color they are. Halfway through my workout a guy starts in on the machine next to me wearing the exact same shoes I am. They are New Balance trail shoes. Grey with bright orange trim. His are brand new. At least they look like they are. I look at his shoes and then look at mine. I heard somewhere that you can tell a lot about someone by their shoes. I think about all the miles I have covered in this particular pair of shoes. 31 hours at Cactus Rose. (Picture of said shoes to the right of this column) Running all night to the start of the White Rock Marathon and completing the course. All the anonymous training miles I did under the cover of darkness in the cold and rain this winter while everyone else was snug in their beds. I smile and press on with my workout with AC/DC reverberating between my ears.

Three muscle heads are working out near me, if you call it working out! Most of the time they are standing around and talking and looking at themselves in the mirror. I do more sets than all three of them combined. They looked as bad to me as the people I saw walking out of the gym earlier who look more like underachieving mall walkers. These guys look worse actually. They look all bloated and puffy. Their skin is orange from all the fake tanning they obviously do. I am pretty sure they would be considered clinically obese by most standards.

My hour is up. It is time to pound the pavement home. I get to the front door and it is raining. Sweet! The running Gods are indeed continuing to smile on me. I get to experience the joy of a cleansing rain on the way home. One problem: My iPhone is about to get seriously wet. The case I wear in the gym is neoprene. It is raining hard enough that it would be soaked in a minute or less. Luckily there is a 7-11 on the other side of the parking lot. Off comes the shirt and I sprint across the pavement to the store. I walk in dripping wet and ask the clerk for 3-4 plastic bags. I look down and see one of those yellow cone signs that say "Caution. Wet Floor." I think to myself “Yep, your floor is very wet now that I brought in a puddle from outside with me." I secure my iPhone in several layers of plastic and blaze out the door.

The rain is coming straight down. Big, fat drops that soak me to the bone in less than 100 yards. The rain almost feels warm. I am invigorated and take off at a high pace towards home. Normally I use the run to the gym to take it very easy. These are usually recovery runs. Tonight I was called to a higher purpose. The rain is cleansing and purifying my soul. This run truly is a gift and I am grateful for every rain-drenched step. Halfway through the run The Door's "Rider's on the Storm" comes up in the rotation. I shit you not! The perfect song for the perfect moment during the night's perfect run. I have over 50 songs on this running playlist. What are the odds? It is not a fast-paced get-your-blood-pumping song, but it is the kind of song that lets you stride it out and really find your groove in a very relaxed way. I fly up a 1/2-mile hill like it is not even there.

As I crest the hill, my iPhone rolls over to "Exit" by U2. This is the first song I ever heard on a CD. One of my all-time favorite pieces by U2. It is great song when you are running in the dark in solitude in some faraway place miles from anywhere. If you are running down the side of a busy road, it will help take you to that faraway place. I am only 1/3-mile from home now, but in my mind it was 1,000 miles from nowhere and there was nowhere else I would rather be. Return trip home: 21 minutes 37 seconds of soul-cleansing rain.