pages 77-78

   As of yesterday, I am done with the hardest part of marathon training. Now all I have left to do is taper, which is runner lingo for the dreaded dropping off of weekly mileage until race day. Why is it dreaded? Because runners typically don't want to run less. I have always hated the taper weeks, as unlike the months prior, you aren't achieving any new milestones or accomplishing new goals. It's boring. It's slow. It's necessary. It's awful.
   This year it is especially hard, because all Alex's death has left  me with, other than his book, is numbers. In the past, I'd experience the notorious "runner's high" all the time. During the middle of a long run or toward the end of a speed workout, I'd feel the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the sun would suddenly feel extra good on my skin. My legs would become weightless and for a couple of minutes I'd feel like I could lift a car if need be. It's euphoric and wonderful and makes me feel invincible. But to feel that, you have to let yourself, you know, actually *feel* things, and I just haven't been able to do that this go around. I learned on a run shortly after Alex died that there is only one door on the dam that holds in emotion. I was running faster than normal, it was a tempo workout. If I talked, it would have only been in single words at a time, I was breathing that heavily. Then, like clouds parting, my gait got smoother, my breath became steady, the tiny hairs on the back of my neck were waking up. But instead of feeling invincible, instead of imagining myself sprinting toward the end of a coveted race, or surging past someone I dislike just before the finish line, or winning the Mark Twain award for comedy and giving the "smartest and funniest acceptance speech I've ever heard," as quoted by Steve Martin, I crumbled. The emotional flood gates opened, but the happy stuff was no where to be found. Tears instantly clouded my vision and my breath was caught up in my throat. I felt like I was choking while being punched in the stomach. The embarrassment of crying in public added a layer of anxiety on top of this emotional meltdown. I had to stop. I ran over toward the lake and raised my hands up over my head, giving my lungs more room to take in air. I tried to slow my breathing down, but I couldn't, and I couldn't stop crying. I tried running again, just to get home quicker, but my chest locked up with every step. Red faced, exhausted, ashamed, I walked home the rest of the way, trying not to meet people's eyes.
   That was the last time I let myself feel anything on a run this year. Since then I've been going through the motions, completing my scheduled miles, taking pictures of pretty moments along my various routes and listening to my favorite songs, but my heart hasn't been in it. I haven't been able to risk feeling all the bad things just for a chance to feel the good. I don't want to be like T-1000; constantly falling apart while chasing my goals. So instead, I focus on numbers. The miles, the times, the days. I count and analyze, bargain and organize. I make plans and to-do lists, I check off my runs like they're an errand or a chore. I do this with the hope that one day I won't have to, that one day I'll go for a run because I feel the desire, not just because I'm trying to resume a sense of normalcy. I'm going to finish my training. I'm going to run this race. If my heart isn't in it, I guess I'll just have guts.

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                I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. My body is a lot smarter than my brain. That’s not saying much, seeing as the t...