Lament of the Lonely Runner

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She runs alone

with no partner, friend, coach or team

to while away the hours

as the kilometres plod by

 

Time in her head

her own company she keeps

She sings to herself

to keep the rhythm in her feet

and silently screams at the voices

that tell her to stop

that she can’t do it

that she shouldn’t be there

 

She revisits past troubles

and reviews ones yet to come

She rewrites past conversations

and rehearses ones that have to come

 

It has always been thus

and she has met the challenges

she has set for herself

and overcome them

Alone

 

And she has not minded

the time alone

She is alone

but not lonely

 

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Until today

 

Today the loneliness strikes hard

Even the usual fleeting connections

with strangers on the track

a smile, a wave, a breathless ‘Hello’

are rare on this cold and blustery winter day

as sensible people stay indoors

curled up on the couch

watching their footy team play

 

Perhaps, in these days of reduced social interaction

this introvert has had too much of a good thing

like an overly restrictive diet

As coffee dates and drinks and dinners out

have all but disappeared

perhaps loneliness has put a foot in the door

 

The loneliness in her life

finds its way onto the track

 

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As the kilometres of bitumen

pass endlessly by

under her pounding feet

she questions this life choice

this pursuit of isolation

And she knows

 

Because loneliness is hard

but also all too easy

 

She questions her value as a friend

to all but a tiny few

Reaching out is easy when one feels

one’s value to the other

 

She knows she is appreciated

for her willingness to help

and her acts of generosity

She knows she is respected

for her tenacity in the face of challenge

and her passion for justice

 

But she longs to be loved

for her sense of humour

and her addiction to American late night talk shows

for her innate childish silliness

and her ridiculous dance moves

for her love of cosplay

and musicals and themed birthday parties

 

She wishes her annoying traits

that keep her from friendship

could be softened and understood

couched in an understanding

of her shyness and social awkwardness

her need for order

and her belief that life should be fair and just

 

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As she reaches the end

the thoughts ease for now

and she knows

tomorrow she will lace these shoes again

and run

alone again

 

Always alone

but not always lonely

 

 

The Flying Beetroot: Still Flyi….er….Flapping

The Flying Beetroot Still Flying

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the vegetable crisper.

[puts on sing-song voice] She’s ba-ack.

I see dead-tired people.

……….

Okay, enough of the scary movie references. It’s bad enough you have to face the aviated vegetable again as it is.

I thought you might be thinking that the purple running shoes had been hung up for good – or at least for winter – post-mildly-acceptable-half-marathon-running-event.

However, if you were really paying attention you may have picked up in a post (way back when) that before I even knew if I could run a half marathon, I’d signed up for another one. It was a moment of momentary insanity. Or, given my usual state of insanity, perhaps a moment of weird sanity.

But being a Bear of Very Little Attention Span, running yet another half marathon on asphalt (or bitumen or whatever you call that black stuff) roads or bike tracks would be boring. If I was going to tackle this distance again it had to be something different.

Enter Run Forrest. (Yes, yes, let’s get the movie reference out of the way early. All together now: “Run, Forrest, run!” Thank you. Can we move on now?)

Here’s a description of the course:

The 21km course will start in the township of Forrest at the beautiful Barwon River.

The trail run will follow the Barwon River along the famous Red Carpet to Lake Elizabeth. The Red Carpet is a favourite amongst mountain bikers for its dynamic technical sections, fern covered single track and fast downhill corners.

Now we get a chance to run it…..

Run Forrest also gives trail runners access to the beautiful fern banks surrounding the majestic Lake Elizabeth.

The course is tough with tight, off cambered turns, fast down hills and undulating with plenty of flow.

The course is a circuit ending at the race village on the banks of the Barwon River.

I’m rather attracted to the phrases “dynamic technical sections” and “fast down hills”, providing, of course, that there are no “very slow up hills” to go with them.

Naturally, a course of this description has necessitated the purchase of more er… grippy shoes (otherwise known as trail runners) and a modified training regimen.

Unfortunately, trail-like running tracks are not immediately handy – the most suitable being at least a twenty minute drive away – so in these time-pressured days of work and family life, I have had to make do with running on nature strips* and gravel tracks where available. Fortunately, footpaths* are in short supply close to home so running on grass is readily available.

(*See International Vocabulary Reference at the bottom of the post.)

Winter has also arrived so as the days have become more heavily discounted, I have often found myself running in the dark. This actually has some advantages, mostly in regard to speed:

  1. Racing the light home with the darkness hot on one’s heels can tend to make one pick up the pace.
  2. In the increasingly chillier weather, one is compelled to move a little quicker to prevent certain extremities from freezing.
  3. Running along the river in the dark by oneself adds a feeling of “thrill” that does make the legs move faster. (I prefer the term “thrill” to “shit-scared”.)
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Racing the light

What I keep forgetting is to bring along a head torch so I can see properly once the darkness inevitably catches up with me (a speedy runner I am not as evidenced by my first half marathon time). Here’s a stretch of nature strip near my home that is ripe for running along:

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Sorry, that’s in the dark without a flash. Here it is with a flash:

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Hm. Not much better, is it? Do you want to see what it looks like in daylight?

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Yeah. A head torch is probably a good idea. One inconvenient wobble on that stretch…..

Before you ask, yes, I have a training spreadsheet. No, I will not be publishing it.

Because I don’t want to.

Because, unlike the glorious evergreen of the previous spreadsheet, this one is widely stained with the blood red of failure.

One week into the set training I came down with a bad case of “Falling Into A Hole” with a side order of “Losing The Plot”. There was no running for a week while I clambered my way back out of the hole. I got back on track (figuratively and literally) but was left with a debilitating dose of the “Can’t Be Bothered”s. Add some cold and wet winter weather and a stressful workload and it’s been too easy to take the “I’ll do it tomorrow” route to non-compliance.

I’m not overly concerned about it. One advantage of choosing a second race drastically different to the first is that there is no time to beat. It’s a picturesque location, it’s something different and this one I will not be running alone. My friend Carolyn, the notorious Spreadsheet Enforcer, is running with me.

I’ve decided (for the sake of my sanity and not to be overwhelmed with regret) that it is not a race on Sunday. It is a (admittedly hopefully rather rapid) stroll through the beautiful southern Victorian rainforest on a lovely winter morning.

Lake Elizabeth

Lake Elizabeth in the Otways. (Photo: http://www.runforest.com.au)

I’ll let you know exactly how that works out…

 


International Vocabulary Reference

Nature Strip –  berm, curb strip, devil strip / devil’s strip, parking strip, planting strip, sidewalk buffer, utility strip, verge, neutral ground

Footpath – pavement, sidewalk, footway, platform

(With thanks to Wiktionary)


 

 

 

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