“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society, or by offering solutions to get us out of the mess we’re in…But it’s going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do.” - Jean 'Moebius' Giraud

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

MILE 8, PART 1_commission

So there is this long stretch of a riverbed right near my house and every Sunday I get this idea that I should push this 34 year old body of mine and see if I can still run a ten mile stretch in the early morning.

This ritualistic form of masochism starts around 6:30AM with a good long stretch to wake up relaxed muscles from their sleep and to set up the iPod to whatever music I'm going to run to that morning. Yeah, I know. Most runners would say this is a no-no: you can't hear what's going on in the outside world, from traffic, to other runners to whatever. "Balls," I say. I like music when I run, and that's that.

There's a slight adrenaline rush in me when I first enter the riverbed. I usually don't know how the run is going to be - whether or not I'm going to have a good first half of the run or if things are gonna kick in during the second half, when I'm headed back home - but this particular morning, I hit the ground (pardon the pun) running . That means, no pain at the shins, my breathing is cycling pretty nicely, and the music track is shaping up to be something awesome (I think U2's "Elevation - 2005 Live from Milan" track was hitting me stride for stride - Bono having just told the crowd how sexy he is/was and how "...it's okay to flirt").

The air was cold and brisk because Fall is finally, thankfully here and that means it'll save me from the early sun's heat, but it also means that my legs take a little while longer to warm up. It's typically a minor point of concern for me because cold muscles can lead to injury, but this particular morning I'm not thinking about that. "Why not," you ask? Because just as I enter the riverbed, there was this other runner about a quarter mile ahead of me. And instead of thinking of breathing, of leg pain and injury, of the sun and how it'll probably dehydrate me on the way home - in my mind, with the help of Bono and the frenzied crowd in Italy singing along with him, I think to myself, "I'm gonna go run this guy down."

The guy looks to be in his late 30's/early 40's. In my head I told myself he's 42 and that's how I'll refer to him for the rest of this entry: "42". As I approached I could tell what type of shoes he was wearing and more importantly I could tell that he wasn't some newbie at this running thing. He had his gear. The most tell-tale of which was this strap that wrapped around his left leg right above the knee. It's called an ITB (Iliotobial tract) strap and it's not something anyone ever thinks about unless you've got some shortcomings in your biomechanics and it greatly affects how much that part of your leg stretches and impacts when you take a stride. Put simply, you put it on because you're built funny and your legs hurt more if you don't and only a fella who's been doing this for a bit would know why to put that on.

So I start.

I don't sprint. That's stupid. That's just not smart and the younger version of myself would do exactly that, but not at 34. No, today it will be methodical. By gauging his speed I can guess-timate that I'll catch him at Mile1. Maybe Mile1.20. I realize that I'm running slow - 11:19/m (that's what the handy-dandy iPod/NIKE+ tells me - God bless technology...sometimes), but that's normal. That's how I pace myself. I'll pick up the pace around Mile5. But for this guy, I pick it up slightly then and there; 10:45/m or something like that, and the 'chase' is on.

I pass him at the marker that I thought about and I was well on my way to the first quarter of my run. There's some construction going on at one of the underpasses I go through on this riverbed, but considering it's a Sunday (no city employed engineers out, I'd hazard to guess), I bypass the detour signs and run my regular route. I think to myself, "Hey...not bad, 34." Yeah, I know: I not only refer to myself in the third person, but in a number as well. I'm getting therapy, I swear. So there I am - basking in the awesomeness of the morning and how great I feel. "Umi Says" by Mos Def is about halfway done and it's relaxing and motivating at the same time. When all of a sudden "42" runs right past me.

You heard me. 42 runs past me. This was at Mile2.5.

**As I type this it is now 6:19AM on a Tuesday. I've got to go for my morning run, so I'm going to have to cut this short. I'll be back later today or tomorrow to finish off this little story. It's got a funny little self-realization moment of an ending, so come back if you want to know what I learned at 34. Again. Same thing I learned at 32. And once more when I was 30. More later.

And better still - a new image! Thanks for waiting. See yah!


RAWLS said...

Great sketch 34!

Cassandra said...

My husband sent me a link to this blog post. I've been on that run before! You'll catch him next Sunday--and if not, there's always another 42 to chase.

dmcgee said...

Great post!!

Fogger said...

AWESOME Nausicaa! Is that for someone?

Clopsybot said...

Nausicaa is a classic. this rocks man.