Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow-tide and such, December wrap-up.

December 23. Arctic Monkeys, a great band, and a name conjuring an image worthy of today's winter weather, my run through it. Thoughts on the Gator Run 50k exude an excitement approaching inspiration, the wild energy harnessed by furtive preparations. Research on endurance nutrition introduces new foods, synthetic-type non-foods including gels and chews, and "super-foods" such as quinoa (and, perhaps, fig newtons?), while daily running reinforces mental fortitude and physical durability, work and work.  Solitary self-studies reflect of the nuances of posture, generate private mantras against pain management and towards the continuing (basic, rudimentary) leg-labors of miles, the muscle-boils of intrepid determination.   I make lists of reasons why I should finish a 50k, hoping they will be there when I am struggling in my own private hell.  Much of the real preparation is accepting that 31 miles is ticked off one mile at a time, and there is no magic chariot, neither genetic nor chemical nor Zen/Tao mindfulness, that will push me through the six 5.2 mile loops other than my own body and will.

Meanwhile, a simple 7 miler has become something of an ordeal through a bout of illness, and maybe a touch of Christmas lethargia. Despite the drag of mind and body, the miles accumulate, against the viral laryngitis and bronchitis cursing the first half of my week, in fact sending me to the Medac on Tuesday morning. Against the delirium of holidays, the anxieties of Being, the punishments of Life, the curse of melancholy and false inspirations and dry paint brushes and impatient two-year olds and lost thoughts and vapid ambitions and the settling of debris into something called Existence, the miles accumulate. A goal of running 31 miles is the soul-glue at this moment, at this juncture, coupled with the pleasure of the Christmas season with my family.  But the work remains the steady metronome of routine I crave.

December 26th. A literary mania has moshed through my home, leaving a storm of books. (Sometimes reading is the best medicine against writer’s block.) A funny read is Sh*t My Dad Says. Dostoevsky’s Notes continue, interrupted by a Christmas gift, John L. Parker’s Once A Runner. . . . A graphic novel, DareDevil Noir, was my fun read for the past week. I would especially recommend Sh*t.  Lastly, a book on Rodin commands study and awe, the maddest 3-d artist since Michelangelo, and his polished marble torsos are contrasted against his vicious ink-slung figure drawings.

And now a run, or rather, the documenting of one.

The snow fell through my morning’s 8 miler, fell in fact from the coffee pot's first stirrings at 7am, two cups before I entered the window's surreal theater of dizzying ice-crystals and snow flakes, before those snowflakes shocked eyelids and tongue, before the melodic beat of sleet on wind-jacket, before the softened jam of soggy shoes. In rare moments of good running, I could have counted the many snowflakes on my eyelids in their tiny coldness, my legs running but my mind searching out the meditative silence in the muffled, dazzling air.   The snow was wonderful, the clean air was invigorating. Snow is a rare delight on the Eastern coast, but the run remained, as has been the case recently, more of a wading-push of legs, a thick-blooded trudge, Roadside puddles soaked my shoes and socks within a mile, forcing me onto asphalt, my legs protesting with dread through the concussions.  Quietly I traversed the neighborhoods into the deserted Ogden Park. But a snow-run was a pleasant mind-drift, at least in the middle four miles and certainly afterwards,  fixing a quesodilla for my son who ate voraciously for the first time in a couple of days. I watched him eat, watched him wipe buttery fingers on his shirt between bites of quesodilla, and I sipped French Roast coffee with extra sugar and cream while snacking on a peppermint-chocolate pretzel. Pandora radio played some early punk and the clatter of typing becomes a percussive accompaniment and the rest is delicious, luscious, lush, and my world refocuses.

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