Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Bitter-Sweet Sixteen

In various aspects of life, it's always so satisfying to go further than you expected you could. Or thought you would. And in no area of my life is this more true than in running.

One day in college seven years ago I went out for a quick run. A 3 or 4 mile loop around Charlottesville. 9 miles a later, I returned home and told GPSH that yes, that entire time, I'd been running. It was that day that I first thought I wanted to run a marathon. It took three more years before I mustered up the courage to sign-up for one; however since that day in November 2003, I haven't looked back. Every year a marathon. (And who knows... perhaps this year, there will be two...)

I am currently in the best shape of my life. And well on my way to
setting - at a minimum - another marathon PR. And I am on the brink of becoming a Boston Qualifier... Forging through old personal limits and defining new ones every day. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. In my new home, San Francisco, I really am (following MMG's orders and) living the Henry David Thoreau quote, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." (Love you, MMG.)

Today was my first long run in a while. Back-to-back business trips and out of town guests took priority the past few weeks. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up with the group for an entire 14 miles, today. However much to my chagrin, I did fine. And my plans to only run an easy ten turned into twelve and then fourteen and then sixteen. I was feeling great. That beautiful runner's high struck me somewhere around Mile 12. Up in the Presidio, along Lincoln Blvd, overlooking Baker Beach and the Pacific Ocean. I felt the tingling. And I felt my lips turn up, exposing my teeth and dimples. My eyes crinkled, and my chest swelled. I sighed. And beamed from the accomplishment of knowing I will not regret these miles, this morning, or this day.

The sweetness of the high didn't last very long. For slightly further up the road, we passed a Memorial created by several runners in honor of Ashlyn Dyer, a woman killed in a fatal hit and run several weeks ago while running in the Presidio. Placed at the location of the accident were wreaths and several pairs of running shoes - p
otent reminders of how quickly everything can be taken away from us. She was only twenty-seven... And I couldn't help but wonder if moments before she was hit, she also stared out at the ocean, smiling and sighing, content with her morning miles, and hopeful of the day to follow.

I have ten weeks left until San Diego. Seventy days and counting. Seventy days to surprise myself by what I can accomplish. Seventy days... Let's make them count.


jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

Wow, that's all I can I was feeling your joy and then my chin dropped when I read about that runner getting killed. What a fitting tribute you gave her.

Congrats on the long run. I'm building up to that again.

PS. I love the Breathe song too.

Keryn said...

That high alone is a tribute. What a great post...

robtherunner said...

Sounds like a wonderful run, but bittersweet for sure. What a horrible thing to happen.

I really liked your pics. I have not been to San Francisco since I was a teenager and it brings back a lot of memories. I need to get back to California one of these days.

Good luck with your training for San Diego and I will check back to see how things are going.

Mike said...

Ditto JK's thoughts. Very powerful post Nic. There are just too many reminders lately of how quickly it can all be taken from us...I often think about it while cycling....too many angry people driving nowadays...will definitely have a heightened sense of awareness while runnning.
Be safe out there!
ps- AWESOME job on the 16! Hope you are rewarding yourself by digging in to some B&J's.

pookalu said...

i love milestones!

as a not-runner, your hoo'ville story reminded me of the first time i went running with my roommate (who is a sometimes marathoner).

my college roommate "Pier" asked me to go running with her, and we were living in lambeth apts. at that time. i agreed, and we started off going through the McCormick Road loop (or thereabouts). it was towards the end, and she was way ahead of me, and i was by the chapel, and the shuttle bus came. so i got on it. and met her at lambeth. and she was so surprised that i bypassed her...i had to admit that i cheated!

we eventually ran regularly, and i have fond memories of our mini-5 milers, but now i don't i have the patience to go back to it.

anyway, nic, thanks for bringing up such a fun memory for me! good luck on qualifying for the beantown marathon!

Expat Traveler said...

hey nic that is so cool. Yes I was going to say that I'm sure the scenary does have something to do with how well you are doing... At least it always makes me want to be on a high..

And I'm sure the weather is just wonderful too...

a.maria said...

wow. my heart dropped into my stomach when i read that, that is so sad. be careful out there!

but on the lighter side... you'll be showered and rested in san diego before i even cross the finish line! holy shit!

and 16 miles is a big feat, especially when you've only planned for 10. i know that feeling you're talking about, having gone farther than you ever thought you would, so i mean it when i say good for you. not a lot of people understand the ways in which something like a marathon can affect the rest of your life, physically mentally and emotionally.

i have no doubt in my mind we'll soon be reading of your boston success, so keep at it!

i cannot wait for san diego. this RBF meet up is going to be insane!

IMmike said...


Good job on the run. I agree that it really is interesting to learn that our limits are further away than we thought. Self-betterment and realization are probably two of the greatest joys of doing endurance training.

On a similar note to the Thoreau quote, I like the mantra, "be your goals."

Sounds like a good run. What kind of weekly mileage are you putting in these days?


Raul! said...

It's great to read you being so focused and determined. It's a real inspiration. I can't wait to see you kick San Diego's ass.

running42k said...

Great post and I hope you nail that Boston qualifying time.

Spikey1 said...

I remember those days... looked what happened to me.. 3 marathons a year! Eeek