The low stone wall is warm to the touch–warmer than I expect it to be, with temperatures in the high 40s (F). This is good, as I left my gloves behind. I place both of my hands on it, and push my legs out in a way that I sincerely hope will stretch my limbs out in a way that will make me run longer. I contort my body into another position, holding myself upright against a tree, mimicking people I have seen stretching here at the track and online.
Before setting off, I sink into a squat, looking out over a plot of land where a few days ago I watched a man with a dozen or so thick, metal bangles practicing some kind of martial arts routine. Knowingly trying to deflect some of my own self-consciousness, I think to myself, this must be where the idiots start their routines.
I walk past the ghost of the clinking martial artist and start up the running app. The pop-up that details my run looks suspiciously small. I do a double-take. It can’t possibly say a five-minute warm up, then 25 minutes running, followed by a five-minute cool down.
Slightly panicked, I back out to the run selection menu. I did tap the right icon. I am expected to do 25 minutes. Daunted, and a little glad I hadn’t checked first, I start to the track. It occurs to me that my shirt, with its full-front design, will probably make me sweat profusely. It is too late to fix that.
I start counting, but lose my place after just a few seconds. I try to focus on anything but my legs. I have 25-minutes to fill. I am, I think, somewhere around 5 minutes since I started. I know I will make it at least once all the way around the track. I start listing some of the reasons I am trying this in the first place. Reasons like losing weight, lowering my blood pressure, impressing the various ladies I have attempted to woo (with varying degrees of success), writing this blog (it is actually kind of fun), proving to myself that I can do it.
As I near the point where my phone used to tell me I was halfway, it strikes me as odd. About two months ago, I was winded at this point. I was struggling, but I knew I was cresting the hump. Today, I am nowhere near that. In a couple of minutes, I will check the time on my phone, which will tell me I am nearly a third of the way around.
The drive to give-up starts creeping in a couple of minutes after that. I start telling myself I can give up after 8 minutes. My feet are aching–the arch support in my shoes is digging into my arches. At some point, I will likely need some new shoes. I would be disappointed. I could re-do this week, though. I would prefer not to, but I could do it.
The halfway point comes and goes. I keep going. The worst is behind me, I think. I shift onto the grassy part, hoping to get some relief for my feet. A brick structure is ahead of me, part of what used to be the pumping system here at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. I can keep going. I know I can keep going.
As I approach the pump house (I think it’s a pump house), I tell myself I can check my timing again once I hit that. I step onto the stone set near the middle of the structure. I’ll check when I get to the other side of the building.
“We can do it. We did 22 minutes last week. What’s three more?” I ask myself. “We got this.”
As I turn get closer, I start to wonder whether the snoozing hipster I saw when I started is still there. Or whether the Ron Jeremy lookalike is still sitting on the bench with his Rhea Pearlman doppelganger. My legs are still burning, my feet are still aching. Neither is still there. I am starting to ignore the feet. I am turning the corner, and nearing the point where I started.
I have three minutes to go when I check. I think that will get me to the stairs up to the road on the far side from where I enter the park. I keep at it. I am covering ground I have already passed. As I round the next bend–the one that keeps fooling me from the other direction–I think I still have some time to go. I debate going up those stairs, onto a short trail that leads me onto a back street. I could also keep running further from my route home.
In a brief fit of madness, I head up the trail. I have lost track of my legs. They are simply going at this point. I assume they are still attached because I have not yet collapsed.
I have ten seconds left. I hit some concrete. I keep going, counting down to myself. Leaves on the path seem to be dry, but I still feel my steps getting more cautious as I hit them. As my foot hits a point where the ground is obscured by leaves, I hear “slow to an easy pace to cool down.”
I do. I nod at a man passing the other way. I keep walking back toward my house.
Again, I have surprised myself. I start thinking that the rest of the week can only get easier. I pass the lookout where I snapped a photo a couple of weeks ago. A man is resting against the stone bench, looking over the water. I don’t need to stop. I already know what that looks like. I have a different sense of beauty welling inside me: a little self-pride.
Shin Status: Proud
Shirt of the Day: The Tenth Doctor Costume Tee. A shirt that looks like the clothes of David Tennant’s lead in “Doctor Who.”
- Sense of Self (unsurerunner.wordpress.com)
- Three-in-One Post (unsurerunner.wordpress.com)
- Why Am I Doing This? (unsurerunner.wordpress.com)