(Don’t you like how I turned that F into an E? I am so fucking clever.)
Elation, when my mind and my body are simultaneously transported and pinpoint-focused, is a gift. More often than not, I’m in the company of others when it strikes. Prime example of being elated in the midst of others: racing. Every now and then I’ll feel like my body’s been taken over by some outside force when I’m out for a training run: my legs move of their own accord, I could glide forward forever, my breathing sits just on the edge of labored. Elation doesn’t come when things are easy. It always waits on the other side of difficult, gently waving at me with dual promises: a beatific smile and a cocked hip.
So. Today I had to run 12 miles, my final long run before next week’s Baltimore Half-Marathon. I’m not gonna lie–I was nervous. But it was time to gnaw away at it. Long runs can’t be slayed like a dragon, you must slowly turn them to dust like a termite on a log. I set out with a water bottle filled with three-quarters H2O and one-quarter OJ (since I had no Gatorade), a crinkled packet of PowerGel that expired in June, my iPod and Little G. Running on Route 940 from Pocono Lake towards Mount Pocono and back again requires a bit of strategy–the last two miles are uphills that may not hurt after 4 miles, but after 10 they seem vengeful (more than once I’ve plodded up them thinking, What’d I ever do to you?). The whole six miles out were executed under two directives: rein it in, and tuck it in. As far as reining it in, I didn’t really do too well, as my pace ranged between 8:29’s and 8:59’s. But the tucking, that went well.
You see, one of the things I’ve learned through PT is that I’m a back-archer, so I must always remember to tuck my abs and hips foward. When I run, stand and walk, I overarch my lower back, which not only unnecessarily taxes certain muscle groups (thus leading to injury) but it also gives me a Betty Boop posture. The arched back pushes my tits and my ass out–just in case you missed them the first time (fat chance). When did I start doing that? Is it some kind of involuntary female preening? In high school, I remember slouching around the hallways, afraid of boys and mortified about my big hair and curvy body I couldn’t fit into the clothes everyone else was wearing. But then I remembered RC, the tall, handsome redhead who was in most of my classes junior year. He walked around with a naughty smile and his eyes half open; I couldn’t speak to him in full sentences. Once, just before graduation, he focused on me, opened his green eyes and flashed his grin and said something along the lines of, “You have a killer bod.”* Now, I was a good girl. I had vague urges but they never materialized into a distinct plan of action. But his three seconds of attention surely arched my back. Surely, because I remember being pinned to the spot, I remember the tingle that went up the back of my neck and the way my heart momentarily beat faster, until he walked away and left me standing there confused and electrified.
The memory of RC kicked off a deep dive. Hey, I was only at Mile 2, what better way to pass the time than to summon up stories about all the boys and men who may have been witness to the visual effect of my overarching back? I would have had to run further than 12 miles if I was aiming for a complete catalog, so luckily this chain of thought quickly degenerated (I don’t actually wish to remember most of the guys I’ve spent time with). I ended up focusing on the few who most effectively, er, elated me. Mmm, wouldn’t you like to know who I was thinking about during my fastest split (Mile 9 in 8:18)? No joke people, I have discovered the secret to making the long runs go by in a flash: think about sex! Not only did I run faster, but I was stunned when I looked at Little G and realized I only had a mile and a half left. Even though the final uphill push would require my full attention, the earlier miles blew by. Running and sex aren’t the only things that elate me, but they sure were working for me this morning. 12.06 miles took me 1:45:52–that’s an 8:47 pace. Still not close to my half-marathon PR pace (that would be 8:18), but nevertheless: today I clearly found my rhythm. Let’s hope I still have some elation mojo left in Baltimore (after all, I did spent my college years there).
*Even then I realized RC was the cheezy, disrespectful sort but it didn’t diminish my attraction. He was still kinda hot!
Songs I ran to: “Ecstacy” by Rusted Root, “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys, “El Diablo” DJ Bitman, “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor, “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys, “End of the Movie” by Cake, “Engraved Invitation” by Ben Harper, “Escaping” by Blues Traveler (“the endless possibilities of escaping”), “Esta Melodia” by Marisa Monte, “”Estoy Aqui” by Shakira, “Eternity” by The Waifs, “Evangeline” by Matthew Sweet (I couldn’t wait for this song to come up), “Even Better Than the Real Thing” by U2, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, “”Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police (huh! what are the chances?), “Everybody’s Trying” by Poi Dog Pondering, “”Everybody Is a Star” by Joan Osborne, “”Everybody Knows You Cried” by The Fratellis, “Everybody Needs Somebody” by The Blues Brothers, “Everyday” by Angie Stone, “Everything” by Ben Harper, “Everything’s Just Wonderful” by Lily Allen, “Everything for Everyone” by Everclear, “Extraordinary Machine” by Fiona Apple (if ever there was a song about a runner’s body, this is it), “Eye Know” by De La Soul, …and the E must always elide into the F…. “Factories” by Winter Gloves, “Faded” by Ben Harper, “Faded/Whole Lotta Love (live)” by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals