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For the Love of Pavement

March 25, 2011

Good God I love running. I love it so much. I just came back from a 12k-er, and am amazed at the lessons I have learned over the past 6-ish months of serious running.

My run was not “ideal.” It wasn’t one of those effortless runs with pain-free climbs, steady adrenaline flow and picturesque conditions. No. But that’s what made it so great.

I was pretty low-energy getting going. I still ran. The wind was kinda brutal and cold at times. I still ran. I was having some tummy pains from the dried fruit I was snacking on to stay glucosed. I still ran. My shoes were giving me some problems. I still ran. (I’m in between running shoes right now, so was wearing plain old walking shoes with insoles. Oh, wait, is that my dad phoning to lecture me on proper footwear?)

I still ran, and was fine. I ran, in fact, from my Outremont flat to the Olympic Park, and back (for you Montrealers for whom that actually means something. I generally don’t talk much about my distances, but this distance feels somewhat psychologically impressive to me, and brag-worthy).

It was also beautiful. The setting sun reflecting off snowy parks, the flow I found once I adjusted to the new footwear, the way the last few kilometers just seemed to soar…all wonderful.

Accepting unpleasantness is a huge part of the meditation I do. Whether sitting in meditation for one hour or for ten long days, one is bound to want to give up at some point. The great lessons come when we stop reacting to the discomfort. On my recent 10-day retreat, I came pretty close to hitchhiking my way out of there and escaping to San Francisco. But then my meditation deepened, and I began to observe the challenge of sitting in silence without engaging in the drama of it.

It was when I was stopped at a traffic light on my run today, snacking on a date as I bopped up and down on my toes, that it occurred to me how much my running has changed. The ache in my calves from the wrong shoes, the acidic gnawing in my tummy, and the 45 minutes of gentle uphill that lay ahead of me were not phasing me. Nor was I feeling like an invincible Iron Woman either. I was just doing my thing. Running. Steadily, mindfully, humbly. Life isn’t always pleasant, nor should it to be. Striving along with strong legs and a steady pace, we can get through pretty much anything.

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