There has to be medication for this. On Saturday, I ran fifteen miles, but that’s not the crazy part. First, I ran twelve miles, and then I ran a 5K race. For those of you who are decimally-challenged, 5 kilometers equals 3.1 miles. To make it even a little bit stranger, I started out by driving six miles from my house – close to the starting location of the 5K event – and ran home. I took advantage of being at my house to use the bathroom, then I ran back into town to where I parked so I could run in the race. It was raining throughout, and I had planned ahead and packed a change of shirt and socks in my truck before the 5K. After twelve miles in the rain, I wanted to put on some dry gear before I headed out on the race course. I’m holding on to that bit of “dry clothes” sensibility as some evidence that I’m not entirely crazy, but this was one of my strangest running days.
The 5K was a fun run (The Hero Run) fundraiser for a local food bank, and, in case you were wondering, I didn’t run it for a PR. If you’re not a runner, let me assure you that running twelve miles is not an ideal warm-up for running three miles. It was sheer coincidence that I was planning to run fifteen miles, and there happened to be a 5K event that morning. The logistics and scheduling were a little crazy, but the real insanity is that I’m not training for anything. This is the first time in my life I have run double-digit miles without a plan for running in a double-digit mileage event. Lately, I’ve been running long distances for no good reason, and that’s not normal for me. But it has its merits.
I’m still trying to diagnose my condition, but I suspect the long runs have become another weapon of mass distraction. That’s the term I’ve coined for some of my hobbies. I find solace from my troubles and woes, albeit relatively minor troubles and woes, by engaging in my favorite pastimes. As a person who spends a lot of time in my own head thinking too much, I find running, grilling, and metal to be great escapes from stress-inflected pondering. As you can probably imagine, the noise of heavy metal is a great method of drowning out my inner monologue. Grilling requires me to focus on the needs of the meal, carefully tending to the fire and food and letting my notions, judgments, fears, and follies waft away in the curls of blue smoke rising from the grill. You might think that long runs are a great breeding ground for thoughts, what with all that time to think as the miles go by, but the physical nature of running tends to quiet the commentators in the gallery of my mind. Plus, I usually listen to metal when I’m running, so there’s little chance of a coherent thought rearing its ugly head.
After the race was run – at a surprisingly decent pace, I might add – I showered up and planted myself on the couch for yet another of my favorite things: TV. After fifteen miles, my brain tends to shift into neutral, and watching television is about as strenuous an activity as I can muster. I did manage a bit more thinking as I sat quietly. I looked at the medal I received for the 5K and reflected on how proud of myself I was for putting in some good miles for no good reason. I’m grateful for my hobbies and their efficacy in silencing my over-active frontal lobe. Since the grilling season is coming to an end, I’ll probably put in more long runs and medicate myself with large doses of heavy metal. Anything to keep from thinking, which often seems to be more trouble than it’s worth.