Sunday, January 28, 2007

Welcome Home

My friend Al is a successful professor at a university. He's married to his high school sweetheart, and a great dad to two kids. He's also a kick-butt athlete.

He wrote once to me in an email that he does 3 marathons, two ironman triathlons, and a 50k trail race every year "to keep him honest" everything else (yes, there's more) is just for fun. At the time I think my longest run was oh, 3 miles, so this list made me gag. I just couldn't imagine. Al virtually coached me through my early running days, weeks, and months and right up to the Bermuda marathon. He would send me emails every few days that just said "you're not drinking enough water" - they made me laugh, but he was probably right, so I drank more water. Al told me stories of his first running days, mistakes he made (cotton is not your friend), injuries he overcame (ITBS), and for probably the first time in my life I listened. And I ran, strong and injury free, and I never found the 'wall' in my 26.2.

In Massachusetts with my family and a few friends to say our final goodbyes to Mark , Al told me that running in that town made it okay to leave Mark there.

After that, I started running everywhere I went, in every strange place I visited. The view you get from moving through a town on your feet is quite different from the one you see passing by in a car. I feel like the towns tell me their secrets when I run their streets. Some are whispered, some are shouted. These are probably the only secrets I've kept for any period of time.

This morning, I ran in my hometown for the first time.

The first year I lived here I drove to different parks or ran on my treadmill. That year, I was worried I wouldn't make it here. I commuted back and forth to DC for 9 months, unable to find a job that made me happy. I didn't want to hear the secrets of a town I wouldn't get to stay in.

This morning I drove to downtown Holly Springs at 730, ipod and forerunner fully charged. I parked at library and just ran. This kind of 'free' running isn't something I do very often, in running I tend to be very scheduled, every route mapped in advance. This morning, I picked what streets to run down just based on a snap decision made as I came to each intersection. I ran just over 5 miles in my new hometown. I have some new secrets. Some aren't pretty. Some are. I won't share them with anyone even if they ask. I finished my run today much like it started, thinking of my friend Al, and the way he signs his emails 'just keep putting one foot in front of the other.' Simple advice from a good friend.


rennratt said...

Wow. I live much closer to you than I thought!

HS is a great town. I would recommend running in 'old' HS - up past the town hall and to the right.

tiff said...

most excellent non-plan.

On my walk this afternoon, I learned that my road (a country lane if ever there was one) is also apparently a garbage magnet. NOT a pretty secret, and I only went about 2 miles. Can't imagine what further distances secrets would be.

Anne said...

Nice blog. Sorry to hear about your brother.

utenzi said...

Your trenchant advice on my blog was spot-on, Cravey, but I won't be following it. If I block the ducts in my bedroom the noise is too loud and I can't sleep. The fan motors are under my bedroom and it's always loud but having them wide open is the quietest setting. I really don't like my HVAC system but it's better than having nothing.

I used to run when I was younger but I was never very good at it. Now my knees are worthless and ankles not much better. I can hike fine but running just doesn't work. Even when at my best, I wasn't able to do a marathon like you did or 50k's like your friend Al.

rennratt said...

Ha! I live about 20 miles from you - through the woods.

I just happen to know the town, as many of my friends live there.

I also remember when "OLD" HS was THE HS.

kenju said...

Your running is impressive; I never run when I can walk and never walk when I can lie down - but you may have noticed that by looking at me....LOL. My knees would never allow me to run now, but I admire those who do.

Roy said...

I can't run. I'm jealous of people who can and admire people who do.

Nice post. Your writing seems clear.

fringes said...

Very nice writing. I'm off to explore your archives. I'm sorry about Mark.

mr. schprock said...

I used to run all the time until a knee injury that took five months to heal made me go all bike. However, before that, whenever I traveled anywhere, I almost made it a point to rise early and run about 30 minutes or so — that made it feel like I sort of had a claim on the strange town I was in, like how a dog marks its territory, and it no longer seemed so foreign. Usually I'd come back to the hotel room and announce to my wife I found a good place to have breakfast, or a store she'd probably want to check out.

Now I bring my bike with me and my radius has greatly expanded. However, despite the cranky knees and back I'd sometimes get, I do miss running.