What I thought about in my first 21K
I just read this article in The New Yorker: “What we think about when we run“, and I ended up mentally locked in the memory of the things I felt and thought that single time I’ve run a 21K. That is the biggest race I’ve run in my life, and is not the distance that makes it big, but all the things I felt and thought throughout the whole path. Thoughts I find myself in at times, involuntarily.
These feelings and thoughts are so intense, that I felt they were slowly taking over every inch of my body as I was reading the article, and they remain under control as I type this. I suspect this is how I felt back then, but how could I know? I cannot accurately account for the past based on my memories. I simply choose to trust those memories. I feel a bunch of I wishes. I wish I was in certain place… I wish it was certain season of the year… I wish… Because my idea of running has nothing to do with a night in November in a northern country. I don’t love running anytime, anywhere. I like running under very specific circumstances. I can do it in others, but I don’t enjoy it as much. I like running under the sunlight, with light clothes, on the pavement or the nature, on an easy day. Warmth is of high preference in my list of running requirements. So it’s not like my feet are itching for a run right now. No. It’s my heart itching for a moment.
That 21K is one of such moments. And so are all the smaller races I ran while preparing for it. In that 21K I started with a lot of inner motivation, smiling, spending the first 7K preparing to last the remaining 14K, reviewing all I had learn, techniques, breathing, relaxation, focus. This mental focus turned into struggle when my left leg started giving up on pain, but I decided I wasn’t going to stop. I had injured myself a few months back while preparing for the race, but I didn’t think it was serious so I just took some weeks of rest and went on. During the race, when the injury decided to inform me it was still around, I figured that begging the ice spray guy to spray more and more and more would help keep it quiet. And it did. But it was still pain what pushed me through that finish line. Not physical pain, but emotional pain. It was the pain of having lost my mom a few months back to that stubborn habit life has: ending. It was the pain, but it was also the anger of knowing I was never going to touch her or see her again that gave me the strength to feel that it was only then when I was alive that I could make the most of my body and push it through that finish line. It was my way of using life before life decided to leave me.
That’s what running is like to me: living on my own terms.