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Wednesday morning, with what should have been a simple software update, our last remaining computer crashed. It was no surprise, as this laptop was so old, no one could remember exactly old it was. There was no explosion, no smoke or anything else that would lend to an epic crash, it simply restarted itself with an error message letting us know its time here on our desk was over. It was to join my barely 2 year old Toshiba, which had recently self destructed its own hard drive, in the laptop graveyard (otherwise known as the corner of the bookshelf).
I, not wanting to give up so soon, fought with that damn laptop all morning, hoping that I could circumnavigate these error messages (with pure luck, mind you, as I had no idea what I was actually doing) until eventually it would just start up like nothing had gone wrong. Of course that never happened. Eventually I threw my hands in the air and figured I better not waste the rest of my day.
And so I did all of the things I avoid doing most days, because I’m too busy writing. Laundry. Dishes. Vacuuming. I cleaned out my closet. Hell, I even dusted the book shelf. I tried not to panic over the fact that a blog post for a big client was due that day. I tried to stay busy, though on my one day of the week typically dedicated to purely writing, I had no outlet to write. The thoughts just aching to be put on
paper computer screen swirled in my head. What if the laptop couldn’t be replaced anytime soon? What about all of the deadlines? WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT ALL OF THESE WORDS? I began to panic.
So I put on my running shoes.
Some days it feels the only two things that come naturally to me are writing and running. By naturally, of course, I don’t mean I do either particularly well. It’s just that most days, there is no struggle. Both the words and the footsteps flow. There are so many other things in my life that I do struggle with, some of which are simply habits I couldn’t be bothered to change (like keeping my closet in a manageable state, I’m sorry Geoff),while others are “big” thing, situations I don’t talk about much anymore in public, but eat me up inside daily. But for some reason, unbeknownst to me, writing and running are my solace, always.
And so I ran. Slow and steady, purposefully trying to hold back my legs, thinking ahead to the upcoming 50K. And despite being on pavement (my heart is on the trails) I quickly fell into the coveted runner’s “zone”. I ran and I ran. I contemplated how interesting it was that I had been on this particular road, in my car, countless times, but had never truly observed the elevation gains and losses. The hills looked massive and rolling from this new vantage point on foot, yet In the zone, I did not dread them. I looked into the face of almost every driver that passed by, most of them looking right back at me. So often I run with fear on roads; distractions to drivers are countless these days, and as a female running alone simply makes me nervous (I hate that it does, but sadly it does). In the zone, however, things felt different. I was still on high alert, of course, but the fear was replaced with a feeling of contentment.
I know there are tons of people who don’t understand why we run. And while there are hundreds of valid and common reasons I could use towards my argument of why I run, none of them would pinpoint the exact truth: I run to be in this zone. And truthfully, there are no words to describe that anyway. Bliss. Satisfaction. Peace. The most serene place I’ve ever been, where all of the “wrongs” in the world, my own and everyone else’s, no longer matter, for at least a few more miles. All of that calm mixed with the most amazing primal, instinctual rush, like running is the exact thing my body was designed and created for, and to do anything with it but run would be an utter shame and waste. To call it a runner’s “high” almost seems contradictory to me, for I’m never more clear headed than I am when I fall into this zone.
I made it home 7 miles later. An hour of bliss that went by in the blink of an eye. Freezing cold, my face now resembling that of a red cheeked, snotty, sick toddler, but bliss none the less. The panic of earlier in the day was not only subdued, but now put into a reasonable, and later successful, action plan (hence my ability to ramble on the computer once again.)
I’ve realized that running is truly a gamble. We put so much into it, so many bad training runs, crappy weather, and occasional injuries, all for the completely random, sporadic, and never promised payoff of a good run, of falling into the elusive zone. It seems foolish, when you look at it that way. But as for me? I’ll gladly keep betting on this game.