Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Sorest Muscle

This marathon business is harder than I thought it was gonna be, and I never figured it was gonna be easy.

Yesterday I ran 13.1 weary miles. At about the 12-mile mark I started in in the body scan. My heart and lungs were finein fact, if it wasn't for the way I go all sniffly when I run, I could probably breathe through my nose if I had tobut from my stomach down, my muscles were flirting with mutiny.

Was it my quads and hamstrings? No. Not really. It was muscles on the side of my legs I don't have a name for. And my lower back, but not in a oh-my-aching-back kind of way--in more of a my-muscles-are-tired-and-cranky kind of way. And my knees were moany, but not in pain. Moaning. Yeah, that's what my legs were doing. And let's not forget how my ring toes got so sore I was sure those nails had been ripped off somewhere around mile 10. The image of a bloodied pair of nail-less toes haunted me until I got distracted with the way the air around the Garelick Farms plant on the Revere/Lynn line smelled like manure. Then my thoughts became so consumed with the possibility that actual cows lived on the Lynnway that the hum of the cars going by too fast and way too close to me started to sound like a postmodern moooooo.

The run itself finished without a hitch. Well. Running through air thick with the stench of manure is no picnic, but you get what I mean: I finished. But the run left me bone weary. Instead of my evening walk, my dog got a visit to the fenced in children's playground where he could run like a happy idiot while I sat laughing at the way his tongue lolls as he tears around, wood chips flying. As we walked home it occurred to me that maybe this is what ninety will feel likemuscle soreness and a desire for a slow, slow pace.

This morning I'm sore, but not terribly (though my ring toe on my right foot is aching in a way that's seriously making me take bets that, if I'm gonna lose a nail, this is the one that's going ). But I have to say that by far, my sorest muscle is my brain, and that soreness is feeling a lot like worry about how zonked I'm gonna be over the next six weeks as my long Friday runs inch up and up and up until they hit the big 20 mark and then taper off until the 26.2 mile finale on July 30. And worry too, about week ten when my short runs click up to 5 miles, and my medium ratchet up to eight. Wasn't my long run eight miles not so many weeks ago?

Training for a marathonwith all its challenge and worry and uncertaintyis a lot like writing a novel. But just as I've learned to stop allowing myself to worry about the capital-R revision of my book and focus on the scene I'm working on right now, I need to stop thinking about the spectre of the marathon and start thinking about the run before me. The next mile. Hell, the next footfall. Just as I'm making my way through my novel scene by scene with only the occasional check-in with the bigger picture, I'm making my way through my marathon training one stride at a time.

And yes, it's true that training is harder than I imagined it would be when I started, but it's also true that the swelling sense of strength I feel at the end of a long run fatigue be damned is sweeter than I ever thought it would be. Now if I could just convince the writer in me of the euphoria I'll feel when I finish the first half of the revision...

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