I ran/walked 36 miles yesterday. After allowing myself to sleep in while dreaming of wandering in and out of rooms made of meat and flowers, I pulled spandex-monster garb over my flesh, stuffed my tiny backpack with food in gel form and water, ate a piece of rice toast with peanut butter, and left my house as the sun perched quietly on tree branches. For 45 minutes I walked briskly, and while deciding what album to begin running to (I finally chose the album Talkie Walkie by Air) received a text message from my best friend Johanna's sister. Johanna was going into labor. So my big run was in honor of Johanna. Go Johanna go! Amped up, I began to run run run for the next 3 and a half hours, stopping only when traffic lights made me or to stretch my floppy legs over electric boxes, trash cans and poles. I ran up Columbia BLVD and Killingsworth as large trucks sped by. I ran up to 138th Avenue, took a left at a corn stall and darted through a block of official looking businesses on their neatly manicured lawns. I took a right onto NE Marine Drive and tried to keep my head up. I listened to Deer Tick and some mysterious unnamed Arabic electro-pop. I listened to nothing but my breath and the hard punch of rubber soles on concrete. I lapped around Blue Lake park and longed to be the duck floating on the lake or the grandmother sitting in the passenger's seat of an Oldsmobile, or the child swinging in warm autumnal breeze. I longed to move in any way other than upright and forward. My right hip began to whine. I slurped some electrolytes in gel form and watched small airplanes take off as I passed the airport in Troutdale. As my energy dwindled, I thought of Johanna and suddenly felt recharged. I thought of the Indian family I encountered on a trek I did 10 years ago - they had been walking for 3 days straight to pick up water and supplies, and they weren't limping at all. And then I tried not to compare myself to great athletes and poor Indian families.
Bicyclists rolled by and waved. The sun climbed and I stopped to swath more lotion on my cracking face. The ground was coated in trash. Shoes, wrappers, a parking ticket, a cut-up driver's license with a hole-punched through it. Some poor guy lost his license. As the road became more desolate, my paranoia increased. Men honked and sometimes yelled. I was convinced they would try to lure me into their cars, violate me and that I would be too physically fatigued to defend myself. All that time training with my kickboxing teacher Vinnie would be for naught. I tried to run faster and was relieved to come to a slew of gas stations. For a minute, one blissful minute, I sat more comfortably than usual on a public toilet seat and took a short but necessary pee. I refilled my water backpack and trekked onward up a historic by-way slithering slowly through suburban hoods and blackberry brambles.
And then my hip screamed. My pace slowed. I took deep breaths and every 3rd of a mile stopped to stretch. I downed a nut bar and water. I shook my limbs loose and continued for another two miles. I began to limp, then wept a little out of disappointment. I wanted to run the entire 65 miles, but if I went any further, I'd need a walker. I sat on a bench and waited for the bus while a 15 year old boy attempted to ask me out.
2 minutes later Johanna's sister texted me. "Success! Baby born 1:34 healthy crying and pink, with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes and THE MOST amazing mama on the planet!"
And because of Johanna, her awesome hubby Gabe and her new wee one Juniper Hale Blair all my self induced disappointed of not reaching my 65 mile goal was obliterated.