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slower roads

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It has been a strange summer. For a while, I was doing regular 18 mile runs in 95F+ heat, until I suddenly lost the will to run, totally exhausted. This week, I jumped back into mid-range mileage, and feel less out of shape than encouraged because my running form seemed to come together, which was confirmed by a friend, who called it "finally harmonious" (!) This took two years to accomplish - admittedly, with no coach and along the slow road. The past two years have felt like the trial of investing an immense effort, more than I can fathom, unsure if I will finally arrive "somewhere", with something to show for it, though I have felt moved to "keep on". But like my now-improved running form showed me, a run I took yesterday also illustrated that there is something to be said for perseverance, even sans the coach one wishes for.
At one moment during the run, I thought, how can I possibly go 2/3 further, and the next moment, the distance - seemingly of lif…

vampire moths!

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I am still trying to shake off that unwanted running buddy of midsection kilograms - and marvel at how I have less of an issue showing off my running-induced blue toes in sandals than coping with the war trophy of the end-of-term stomach (induced by sleepless nights writing, marking, or invigilating). The blog post I had been composing was supposed to be about the pleasure of running far enough to see swans puff themselves out like cumuli on hot days, or the pheasant I found that lives in a park; the indescribable pleasure of feeling the weather and its hourly changes as opposed to intellectually understanding what it says in an app. But what finally prompted me to open this Compose page were the two vampire moth bites I sustained - which frightened me so much, that I now prefer to do regular 17 mile runs on a totally different route in order to avoid the chance of seeing these insects again, for a time.
One day, I was running along, minding my own business, when I felt something on m…

pursues you in your flight

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This will be a brief post because during this unusual window of recreational off-time, I have decided to keep up with the WS100 updates. Like, I feel life is like a race now, so it's therapeutic to watch a race, just like once upon a time, in the midst of giving too many exams, I felt cured by watching "judge shows", specifically "Chopped", which depersonalised my understanding that assessment can verge on the arbitrary. But let's talk about races. Specifically, the feeling of where the good old college try in the race is foiled by sudden changes to the course, different from what was trained for. This is all figurative - but two running-based passages got me back on track in my losing 'race', which is why I thought I would write about it on this blog.
First, were parts of AJW's WSJ100 speech, which inspired my will to continue with relentless forward motion. He says things like: "I want you to go into the race confident, resilient, and fai…

blazes

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How glorious it is to blaze a new trail, and suddenly to appear in learned society, a book of discoveries in one’s hand, like an unforeseen comet flashing through space! While that line was written somewhat ironically, by a person of leisure placed under a 42-day house arrest for duelling, at which time he composed this "palliative" (i.e. relieving, if not curative) account of a 42-day "voyage around [his] room", I often think of it, maybe also ironically, when I fortify myself with runs before reappearing in society.
But it is tough when running time is infringed upon by the very activities a person wants to strengthen themselves for. That's been my life since my last post. I've needed to shift how I look at my running.
I've thought back to the old people I would once run past after newspaper shifts, around five or six in the morning, making their way up to a Chinese mountain peak - walking and stretching their arms in various directions, often accomp…

almost religious

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In "Run For Your Life",  NY Marathon founder Fred Lebow's brother, already tearful, says with gravitas of his sibling that, "Running was his religion". I immediately wondered: would I even recognise if it was becoming a religion for me? I already meet the definition by following the pursuit "with great devotion". Moreover, like many others, I see it as a system capable of addressing universal questions - some, at least. Running is also emotional, and can get deep.
I've already mentioned how at the marathon finishing zone I met other runners upset over the training investment not yielding desired results. I felt my own struggles - betrayed by my now dog-eared training log, thumbed through over and over as if it would cede answers (is it enough? will I get injured?) like an oracle. This seems like semi-religious behaviour. I might be saved from more of it because I literally cannot afford to take limit-pushing risks, not having the means for physica…

race day affirmation

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Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man [devotes] himself to his life with reverence in order to give it true value. ... At the same time the man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give to every will to live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own. - Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought Today was race day! I met some really wonderful people. But let's get into the 'race': When I finally found the 4:00 pacer, which was my goal marathon pace based on my training, I discovered 10k later, so at 30k, that today was not my day. I finished 10 minutes off - but before I knew that, as I approached the final uphill, I had a completely unexpected sensation of being exactly where I was meant to be today.
Up until that point, I had made a firm commitment to just keep 'running', which felt more like a generous walk, so I was not anticipating a positive outcome, though I definitely put through the motions what I've lear…

aesthetics on the go: an oxymoron?

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I've adopted a flagrant blogging style here, publishing first drafts that are edited later, which must be conspicuous, like yesterday when I was hazardously and unsuccessfully attempting Woolfian extended syntax. Despite that, however, I suddenly found in the short interim that I have become fond of this blogging outlet, and out of fondness came a wish to improve. I changed the blog layout and labels, and plan to be more careful with the Publish button. I will now swiftly draw a parallel between the bid to prettify a blog written on the fly and the beautifying techniques that the conscientious runner soon finds necessary during training blocks. What happens to the toes?! as one is merely breezing past the scenery, picking one's feet up just a little faster...
Hopefully, that parallel highlighted a dilemma: the earnest pursuit can, at moments,mangle one's mien, until just enough practice is gained to maintain it again.
When it comes to maintaining those material toes from t…