There must be something about running with a friend. Or maybe it was the fact that most of the running was downhill.
I left my apartment this evening for what I thought might be a mile or so of running. Last night, I was beat after a mile --and that was with a fifteen minute break and periods of brisk walking while trying to stick my ear buds back within my music loving lobes. But tonight, I met the evening air beyond my front door with some kind of hidden ability to defy the odds. I've been eating better lately, but I still don't exercise as often as I should.
Anyway, the plan was to run toward my friend's apartment and she was going to run toward mine. We'd meet somewhere in between and then probably go back my way and run to the dam. I don't think I'd made it close to the halfway point when I saw her running around the bend. (In fairness to me, I did have the uphill stretch and she's in much better shape anyway.) We ran to the dam, took a (much too) short break and sat at the foot of some stairs and talked for a bit. And then - her idea - we continued on with our run. (We were not too proud to walk when mood to do so struck, e.g. steep, uphill climbs.)
Here's the part where I show the reader what a nice guy I am:
We reached the part where I could go left for my home and she would go straight into the path through the woods for hers. It was getting quite dark and even though she goes through life thumbing her nose at fear, there is nothing in me that will allow a woman to go unaccompanied into a place of potential danger. (I can just see so many deceased ancestors looking down on me and saying things like, "He's such a good boy to go with her to keep her safe like that. He must be brave, because Lord knows he can't fight worth a lick.")
And so the run continued. Into the woods, my friend and I hit the same path again for my third time and her second. I walked a bit more now, and my long legs kept up just fine. We reached her apartment, hugged, and I retreated back again. By now, it was quite dark. As I entered the woods for my fourth time, I recalled the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke trains on Dagobah and enters the cave, lightsaber in hand. As dark as it was now, I wished I had a lightsaber. Protect the girl, I did; but who's gonna protect me?
With small comfort of my cellphone as a potential source of light (if something or someone attacks me, I can use the light to see it just as it makes contact), I jogged on the path and thought of how amazing the human body can be. Medical science wows me as well. I recently listened to an interview with a woman who ran despite having lost both of her legs. ("It's really quite easy," she would say. "It's just one prosthesis in front of another.") I was not running and eating healthy to extend my life; I was doing these things to look good now (or however long it took). This was all just mere vanity, but that was good enough for me. We all need a reason. This was (is) mine.
In the complete darkness, I ran home quickly. This was easy for two reasons: (1) It seemed to be all downhill, and (2) I had a sudden realization that there could be snakes about and I wanted to get home before they could plot their attack on me. I arrived back at my door, still unaware of the pain in my calves (I'm aware of them now), and happy to enter my humble domicile. I ate a banana and went to the laptop to map out the route and see just how far I had run (give or take some walking). The surprise of the day is still not entirely trusted by me: 4.7 miles! My second day to this new commitment and I achieve this? I can't wait to get out again and see how far I can go without slowing it down to a walk. I'm far from a marathoner, but it feels good to cover that much ground so early into this.
I'm giving my running partner credit here. There's just something about pacing yourself to a good runner that seems to make it easier. Big thanks to her. She's invaluable.