On the vast majority of my runs, I wear headphones. I try to find a fairly long podcast that will help me get lost in my pace so I can forget about the redundancy of the movement. Since signing up for a 30K at the end of July, regular running is officially back in my routine; however, in order to prepare, I've been trying to run sans headphones at least while I'm out on trail. I could lie and say that the reason was to practice presence by listening to the sounds of the birds singing or babbling brooks, but only one reason existed: rattlesnakes. Nick has seen quite a few over the past few weeks, so I've decided to keep my ears open, hoping I don't hear that menacing sound.
While I was initially panicked that I would only have my thoughts to entertain me on Friday's run, I finally was able to let my mind wander at around mile 2. (Mile 1 was solely filled with: Was that stick a snake?) Once I got back to the car, I thought I'd like to start using these runs as prompts of sorts for various thematic content that comes through my head when my lungs are gasping for air. Here's some of my musings from 6 miles along Pipeline Trail:
Was that a rattler? No, just a stick…good. Keep going. Seems like I’ve been running a while, let me check my mileage. *Looks at watch* Damnit, not even finished with the first mile. At least it’s flat up here. Ugh, but flat means I have to run and can’t “power” hike anymore. Well, not much power in my hiking, but still. *BEEP* Finally...The First Mile down. Okay, Hannah, you’re officially making progress on The Second Mile. Things are fine. Things are okay. You’re okay.
My legs settled in. My pace felt slow, but steady. I wondered if it was weird to think of each individual mile like a chapter in a book. It seems overly reverent, but I felt like the act might help me stay present. I read an article about a runner who would think of a different person she loved for each mile. I tried that technique for a few minutes, but couldn’t keep my concentration. Positive self-talk only lasted for so long until I began to feel phony. You got this, Hannah! Keep it moving! I got what? Keep what moving? Why did I assume my body and mind were two separate entities with one guiding another? I thought of my body as a decapitated load under my mind’s seemingly omniscient control. Could self-judgement result as a consequence of feeling like my body was merely an object of my mind’s possession? It seemed plausible. Why isn’t my brain in the center of my body? Wouldn’t that have made more sense? That way my feet could have had equal advantage that my shoulders enjoy. I then countered, would that imply that proximity has benefits? It certainly must if all of our internal organs are located more proximally, but then why is the mind so...distal? I pondered this for a while as my watch logged another 3 miles thinking that these tangents were probably a good enough reason to not ingest psychedelics anytime soon.
I finished the run shortly after encountering a lost golden retriever about a mile and a half from the trailhead who had gotten separated from its owner. I questioned multiple nearby hikers, each unrelated to the poor pup. I attempted to catch the dog and wait with her back at the parking lot, but she quickly ran from me whenever I approached. Rejected, I scampered back to my car, heartbroken for the animal, confused at the evolution of my mind’s spatial location, and grateful for a morning in the mountains.