There is a moment in nearly every action film when the hero sprints towards the camera as cars and buildings explode in the background. You know this scene. You also know that the hero never dies in it. He will emerge covered in soot and wounded perhaps. But you find comfort in this sequence because it signals the hero’s survival. At least it always has. And I am hoping that’s how it continues. Because it’s kind of how I am feeling these days. (And yes, I get to be the hero on my own blog. It’s only fair.)
You see, two days ago I walked to work as usual. The temperature was a balmy negative nine. I paused to look where the mountains should be—one mile east—but found nothing but haze and indiscernible mounds instead. It was another red air day. Another day the community is supposed to stay indoors. Later I logged onto the state’s air quality agency to read the alerts. The forecast was the same for the foreseeable future. I felt defeated.
It is hard training for a marathon inside. How am I supposed to go under three hours if I can’t train on hills or even without ever turning right? (Runners are not allowed to run clockwise on the indoor track.) So I stepped onto one of the treadmills in the gym for a little variety. The room is windowless and the machines are pressed against the back wall facing the mirror. I punched my pace and time and began. I lasted .20 miles before completely losing my cool.
I think that’s what happens when you are in the midst of a sustained freeze and living in a community with some of the worst air in the nation. At least that’s what happens to me. I walked home muttering to myself and swearing at the 2011 model diesel pickup trucks running unattended in driveways. I am walking two miles both ways so you sir can spew crap into the air so your tushy can be warm when you start driving? I bellowed. I counted single occupancy vehicles — well over 90 percent of cars —and swore at them too.
Passersby must have found the sight of a woman donning two pairs of pants, two jackets, two pairs of mittens, and wearing a dead rabbit wrapped around her face and hollering into the night mildly disturbing. I hope so.
By the time I arrived home I was in a really special mood. Poor D. He tried comforting me saying not to worry; I should just approach the Boston Marathon as a fun way to run through my hometown. I decided it was time to be honest. Really set the record straight. I don’t run marathons for fun. They are inherently not fun. If they are fun you aren’t running fast enough. I don’t run for fun most days. I run so I am not a crazy person. And right now, I am. At that point, there may or may not have been an unhinged gleam in my eye as I said this. You would have to ask him.
I imagine my prehistoric ancestors were a similar bunch. I wouldn’t be surprised if fellow clansmen spoke of Munsons this way: Nice people. Don’t touch their shit.
After my meltdown I made a game plan. Double sessions on red air days. Get reacquainted with the pool, bike, and rowing machine. Use the indoor track only for workouts. On weekends, drive above the smogline for long runs. And I started lifting again.
Yesterday was my first day back in the gym after about six years. And it felt awesome. I noticed veins popping in my arms as I did reps with my little 10-pounders. I left feeling strong. Like I could flip a car if I wanted to. I also left feeling fast. And that’s the plan.