Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dreaming of Mercy Street

I run with Orion
and Orion runs with me
on through the night and the small hours
past my old stomping grounds and grounds yet rediscovered
Orion has run with many
over countless generations
stories unknowable and lost to time
remembered only by my silent partner

This marathon cycle has found me revising and revisiting areas that I grew up. I was a wild kid, but never became interested in running until my mid-20s. I have a whole new vantage point on the place I once lived, and the streets I once tore around on. I ran on these roads as a gleeful child, eager to play along the water line with my friends. I skated, played with dogs. As an angsty teenager I wandered the neighborhood after dark with my friends, basking in the orange glow of the street lights.

It's different now. I have the benefit of knowing the terrain, but it's like it doesn't quite fit anymore. It has the familiar sensation of returning to an elementary school as an adult -- the place is much smaller than I remember, like a well loved hoodie that has shrunk in the wash. It is hard for me to not wax poetic within the confines of my own mind as I tread an area with so much history to me and at such a solitary hour. There are familiar colored lights, and a bridge that has been replaced but with a view exactly the same as twenty years ago. I revel in the nostalgia only because I know that a change is coming. You can't stay in the same place forever, and I'm not the person I was then. I need to become something else, and learn new skills. My kids will cut new memories in a hometown of their own, and I'm certain that they'll experience the similar push-pull of aging.

I grew up by the water. I don't live far from the same river and bay now, and I can never escape the feeling that I know myself through my connection to this place. But there are other places, too, of course, and there are other sides of myself worth discovering.

The Social Club celebrated Oktoberfest, which we do in September (although I think still a bit earlier than the Germans do.) The food and drink was incredible, and of course the conversation alone left me never longing for another activity to have as a shared distraction. The toddler loved the food, and had a great time talking to everyone and playing. Nice to see her confident in social situations and undeterred from the business of being a kid.

The run streak has been going well, although I've abandoned (temporarily) the practice of blogging my run journal each day. I'm at the height of my marathon training cycle and have been in 40-60 mile weeks for awhile, feeling strong and focused on that. Ended up with just shy of 57 miles for last week, with the week ending with a 22 mile long run. The long run surprisingly went by very quick, so my mental toughness must be building up. This week's long run wasn't as long, but the plan had two longer easy runs so I still ended up with just shy of 50 miles. I'll be able to comfortably build to the mid-to-high 50s this next week.

My wife and I have been doing some personal training sessions, so Saturday I was doing some fun lower/core work which left me trashed for my long run. But I gutted it out and I'm actually really happy with it overall. The conditions today were also similar to what I'm expecting for the marathon, so that is also always a bonus. I'll need to take an ice bath before we go run around with the kids, though.

The silent running partner listens
ever attentive but with no comment
no judgement
the miles render their own opinion in due time
I gain perspective from the thrum of motion in my bones
the chant of the road pounds in my legs


I'm finding in this third decade of my life I have a hard time talking about things that upset me. I'm a bit ashamed to say that I have friends I still haven't told about the death of my cat, because I just get too upset thinking about it. Likewise, I have friends that I haven't spoken to in a large amount of time, and I find myself torn between reaching out and just severing ties. In the same vein of this struggle, I've taken about two weeks in drafting this post, because as much as I love to write about my running and the delights I experience with my little family, the hard things are so much harder for me to talk about. But I need to leave them somewhere, if only to get some space and perspective.

So I've found the best way is to just say the thing. My wife and I noticed that the baby's head seemed sort of lopsided last week, and asked the pediatrician. It turns out she may need surgery for a fused suture that's preventing things from growing correctly. She's still developmentally on track (ahead, I think) and we've been told the surgery will be more annoying than anything, but it's still a stressful thing to imagine a four month old having to be put under and having a procedure done. It's tough. She's a happy baby, and she loves to smile and giggle. She doesn't deserve this, and although it's no one's fault it just sucks.

It's been very stressful for my wife, and I'll admit that I am upset about it. We're in the process of scheduling tests and taking this all one step at a time. I've always been grateful that although I've had challenges in my life my kids have been healthy. This isn't something that will have long lasting repercussions, and I should be happy about that, too, but I'm stressed and worried for her. I have the comfort of knowing at least we're handling things the best we can.

I'll have to keep my head down, and move into the hills.

In the realm of stress I've also had some offers for additional work that I'm not sure I can turn down. It would mean extra hours potentially for about half of next year. I'll make time to be with my kids, I know that. What would be hard on me would be the loss of time to go running, because that's where I process most of my day. I certainly couldn't keep a streak going with those kinds of hours, and I'm not sure what would happen to my race calendar.