Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Monday, 4 August 2008

Religious long runs

Sometimes I need to pinch myself. Yesterday SR spent hours running about 24 miles together in Devil's Head State Park in WI. All this after a romantic evening in Madison, WI. It was so wonderful to eat outside on State Street, speak Danish together, giggle with the Lorax. And well, there's more, but let me get back to the run...

We ran with the babyjogger and I explained the situation in my previous relationship: I never would have been allowed to run over 2 hours at a time. But with SR there is no clock. And yesterday our only plan was to run as long as we could.

I do know it is not the Lorax's idea of a great day to be stuck in a baby jogger. About half way through the run, he got SO MAD that his tears elicited "I'm going to call the police" looks from mother bystanders. I took him out to play with him and he had the usual telangiectatic marks all over his face from despondent crying. I waited for SR to meet us. SR had run 21 miles at this point, so he let me take off.

I was about 16 miles into my run then. And this seems to be the usual distance where running becomes a religious experience. I ran up and down a steep, rocky hill with gorgeous lake overlooks. There were plenty of hikers staring and pointing at the crazy running woman, but I was alone in my head. I couldn't remember anything in life that bothered me. Somehow during long, long runs, I shed all that. It's like my body is so consumed, that it can't deal with frivolous, worrisome thoughts. Every fiber of my body becomes focused on running and existence. And the rocks and trees, sky and landscape start to come alive, breathing and seemingly reflecting my memories and breaths and pounding heart.

I recently read about the 24 year-old ultramarathoner, Jenn Shelton, that during a 100 mile race she saw a little girl and started screaming. Apparently the person crewing her had to explain she was imagining it. What long distance running does to our minds and bodies is fascinating.

Honestly, I wanted badly to keep running at the end, but my boys were ready to go, especially this one...


I was surprised how easily 24 miles came out of me. I am a new person since the pregnancy. And part of it is doing 15-16 miles every other day during the week and really resting up on the in-between days. I'm more optimistic about the 50 miler coming up in Michigan.

For now, it's back to usual life, but I'm unburdened. It's incredible how you can shed pointless, negative thoughts on long runs. Or at least recognize them as being just that.

Running Song of The Day: Fading Like a Flower by Roxette

9 comments:

Danni said...

Devil's Head = Devil's Lake? Or where were you? I love that area. I love Madison! Running long is good for the soul indeed. Hallucinations though I can do without.

I agree that it's important to have a partner who supports your running habit. Although my husband doesn't run, I couldn't ask for a more supportive buddy. I think he enjoys the time alone as well ;)

Christy said...

Endorphins are the best drug ever!

You are very lucky to have a husband who supports your "habit"- mine tends to get concerned with the length of my workouts. I think he just gets scared with how sweaty I get.

SteveQ said...

Stuff people "see" in ultras is always interesting to me. My friend Al saw albino deer after 40 hours. One top runner (I forget who) recently saw an entire power station bathed in a red glow come and go. The closest I come is I keep hearing my heart rate monitor alarm, even though I'm not wearing one - then again, I did have 6 hours of continuous de ja vu at altitude once.

elizabeth said...

he may be the cutest baby of all time.

sea legs girl said...

Yeah, it was Devil's Lake. And you know, I have to set the record straight. My ex-husband was definitely supportive of my running, but it is a different world when you have someone who shares a desire to run for hours and hours. Then there's no guilt over it.

olga said...

Oh, girlie, I got scared I won't see you!!! I agree the long runs are just something. I believe it's the reason I don't quit running in general - because I need my long runs so much, so I need to keep in some kind of shape:) If I don't "solve the world's
hunger" during 5 hrs on trails, I surely look at everything with different perspective.
Boise is just a picture=perfect baby, so cute!

Bec said...

Glad to see you're back! I enjoy your adventures :)

Danni said...

I was getting the DTs there ;) :p

Maybe I'm a bad wife but I don't feel guilt.

The Chapples said...

I don't feel guilt over running either, but then again, my husband spends many hours a week on his bike. It is good to share of love for exercise with your spouse!