I had a good chunk of time to just think today. To some extent at least, as I was running along the course of the Bristol Half-Marathon.
I thought about 9/11 of course, about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and about countless other issues plaguing humanity today. I thought I should be running for a peace-based charity (If you would like to support one, try Bhikkhu Bodhi’s Global Buddhist Relief).
But for the most part, I just thought about running. The joy of running. The pain that might come up – for me in one knee quite early in the race, then the other, then back again, each time forcing me to alter my pace or posture until the body regained its harmony.
My housemate who had planned to run with me wound up injured. He said he was at a good 2hr pace, but wanted a 1:45 and decided to push it in his training, only to badly strain a calf muscle. I’ve heard that story far too many times. Running, like so much in life, tests the ego. You really have to be able to ‘let go’ of goals (though setting them as motivation is always great) and to listen to the body. Especially when you’re talking about jolting it for around 2 hours; my pedometer measured around 19,000 steps taken. That can be an incredible beating if you’re not paying attention. If you are though, it doesn’t have to be bad at all.
For my own part, I finished in 1:57:03, a good bit slower than what I was aiming for when I signed up. But then again, with my Pali class and travels, I only went on ONE training run in the last month. Based on that, at the starting line I was just hoping to finish.
I wound up walking a bit, in miles 12 and 13. It was a sunny morning, and I passed the scene of a man who had collapsed near the end of the race – ambulances on site, EMTs giving chest-compression. I hope he is okay.
As I drew near the finish line and saw that I was still under 2 hours I was happy – in pain from muscles that didn’t have any idea what they were in for this morning and lungs that had been somehow set to simmer – but happy. And grateful. Grateful to have made it this far, in every possible way.
Great story of a 90 year-old man who has snuck out to run several half-marathons over the last decade.
A bit on the first ever marathon, 2500 years ago, and U Bristol’s attempts to expand classics learning in schools.