Here's to quite the love affair. And it continues....
Monday, October 10, 2011
"Left foot... Right foot... Left foot..... Right foot..." I told myself on repeat as my feet continuously pounded the pavement, keeping time with my thoughts. "Dear God, how is she passing me right now?" I thought - interrupting my own inner dialogue and watching as a sixty year old woman sprinted off into the distance, weaving in and out of the steady stream of runners ahead of me.
If there's one thing i've learned about running 13.1 miles in a half-marathon, as I did for the first time yesterday, it's that a person really thinks about some weird shit while running long distances. Perhaps these bizarre thoughts can be attributed to the fact that you do anything you can to keep your mind from thinking about the pain that you are voluntarily inflicting on yourself, or maybe it's that you actually can get bored and need to entertain yourself when spending two and a half hours of your day putting one foot in front of the other. Regardless of the reason, during my run yesterday, I found myself experiencing some pretty interesting conversations with myself. For example, in between mile 3 and 4 the only thing I could focus my thoughts on, was what I wanted to eat post race. The battle between breakfast and lunch raged on in my mind as I ran through the streets of downtown Denver, contemplating whether or not my stomach could actually handle the large quantities of food I was daydreaming of. "Left foot... Right foot... Left foot... Right foot"
Between mile 6 and 7 I pondered what it would be like to be friends with Florence of Florence + The Machine, as her unique voice pulsed through my headphones and into my ears, filling my head with a beat that my feet kept time to. "Well, i'd for sure have to be trendier" I thought recalling a recent photo shoot of her I had seen, "and I'd really need to expose myself to the indie music scene a bit more before we could even begin to have a conversation, oh and I hope she's not a vegetarian". As the song continued and the mile drug on, my train of thought drifted from weekends spent hanging out with Flo and a few other undisclosed celebs in NYC, to me somehow playing a large role in her upcoming tour and finally, just when I was getting far too ahead of myself, the song ended, a new one started and I was left with the realization that not only will Florence never be in my wedding, I don't even know enough about her to want to be friends with her. "Left foot... Right foot..."
Now, contrary to the way I'm making myself sound here, i've never been much of a runner. Besides my brief cross-country stint during the latter part of elementary school, running has just never been my thing. And to be honest, after all the training, the stretching and the emotion of finishing my first half-marathon, running still really isn't my thing. In fact, yesterday as I pushed through mile 9 into mile 10, I was actually damning myself for making the decision to tackle such a feat. "Why in God's name did you sign up for this?" I asked myself as I slammed a dixie cup of water and tossed it to the ground. I then began to make a mental list all of things I would rather be doing, some of which included: sleeping, eating, drinking copious amounts of booze, stabbing a dull pencil into my eyeball, etc. And just when I thought I couldn't go on, just when I was reaching my breaking point, mile 11 came. "Left foot... Right foot...."
It was circa the time that my legs started to go numb and my hands starting cramping from the cold, that I reached a moment of clarity. Everything around me fell away, the people, the sounds, and all that was left was my mind and the road. And then, the real thinking began. I thought about Denver as the sun reflected off of buildings and danced across the mountain tops. "I can't believe i've been here a year" I thought, as I recalled pulling up to our house for the first time a year ago to date. Floods of memories from the past year overcame me. I then let the city sink in, basking in all the good it has given me. From a real-world job, to a place to call home with neighbors that I now call family. As I embarked on the 12th mile, reaching the brink of physical exhaustion, I began to clap along with the beat to the music in my ear. A smile took over my face as I came to some pretty sound and very personal realizations. Coming upon a group of people cheering runners on, I responded to their support by throwing my arms in the air and quickly spinning around. Seeing the finish line in the distance, I let go of the "left foot... right foot..." in my ear and let my body do exactly what it pleased. I found myself jogging, skipping and even dancing. I crossed the finish line, arms high above my head and smiled as I fell into the embrace of three great friends, fellow runners, and people who have my made experience here in the mile high city what it is. "We did it." I said, tears in my eyes. And as we stood there hugging each other and taking it all in, I let one final thing cross my mind before the breakfast vs. lunch debate consumed me once again.
I thought about everyday life, I thought about how we constantly put one foot in front of the other, left foot then right foot. Everyday, we carry on and we push forward anyway we know how to. Then I challenged myself right then and there to create new things in between the steps. "Add some twirls, a few dance steps and a couple jumps" I told myself, as I stood in awe of what I had just accomplished.
Today, left with an extremely sore right knee and some fairly blistered feet, I am also left with one giant take-away. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined finishing something like I did yesterday. Moving to a new city, finding a new group of friends, starting a job and making a life for myself all took time. And at the year mark for me here in Denver, at a time when I am finally comfortable, I have done it again. I have thankfully found a way to mix things up, to challenge myself and I have tackled something unimaginable to me before my life began here. It's been a great year, an incredible 365 days and a thousand new unbelievable stories written. With another year's lease signed, my story here continues - one foot in front of the other, left foot... right foot... twirl.... left foot... right foot.