Saturday, January 31, 2009

clear headed

Running long distances does funny things to your brain.

Big picture thinker that I am, whenever I take on a new project, or come up with a big idea, my brain starts spiraling into the future. What are all the possibilities? How could I make it bigger, better? On good days, this enthusiasm gets me inspired. On bad days, it can me me feel totally overwhelmed.

So with this marathon, it's been one of the biggest lessons, hurdles, challenges, whatever, to try not to do this. Running 26 miles in a foreign country could play out many different ways. On those happy run days, my projections predict that it will life-changing. On not-so-great run days, I don't even want to get into where my mind goes.

As you can imagine, all this overthinking does not always make for a fun training experience, but it's hard to shut my brain off.

So, I'm thankful when miraculously it does. And through no effort on my part besides lacing up and putting one foot in front of the other. Usually it happens at the last mile before I'm done with my long run. Today, my running friend Mariel and I were trying to calculate our pace for 11 miles, and funnily enough we couldn't do it. For some reason, figuring out what six miles at one hour and six minutes plus five miles at 56 miles was was an impossible challenge neither of us could work out. We literally couldn't do it. We laughed for a few minutes, and then focused on what we could: the very next thing we were going to do when we got home. For Mariel, it was a big coffee. For me, it was bath tub filled with the hottest water my pipes could pump out.

That's it. Nothing more in our brains. It was so peaceful. I felt high. Maybe that's the definition of living in the moment, so elusive to most of us (to me, at least): a literal light-headedness where suddenly what's really important becomes abundantly clear. Whatever our bodies were craving was all that really mattered. Only that next step, not the millions that would come afterward.

And that bath sure felt good.

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