Monday, January 01, 2018

the big empty

the big empty, illustrated...
“it was written i should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.”

~ joseph conrad, heart of darkness
2017 is a model of unfinished business.

the incompletion began in august, and gained momentum through all the -bers. each month i vowed i would return to the normal order of business, and each month i broke that vow.

why? you might ask, if you had lots of time on your hands and a dead cell phone battery.

no reason i can be sure of, i would answer, leaving both of us unsatisfied with the transaction. there would be a moment or three of awkward silence, and then we'd hurry to fill the void with something less important, like climate change or our rapidly approaching demise at the hands of an imbecile executive.
a lot of runners i know say they're out of sorts, off their game, or downright depressed. it's a theme i don't associate with this group, generally, and certainly not with the local trail running community. what is it we have in common that would hold us under these emotional waters? 

imma go out on a limb and blame 45.

for decent people everywhere, 2017 has been an onslaught. it's come at us so many ways on so many days, that for many it's impossible to process. for me, it's been a reliable source of dread, one i feel in my stomach far too often. and if i've been unable to keep the barbarians from the gates, i wonder if it's having a similar effect on others.

what i do know is, when i stay away from the news, and away from twitter in particular, my mood lifts. i'm not sure how to reconcile being a responsible citizen with unplugging from media, but do know i'm going to have to do a better job managing these competing priorities.

also, more napping.
the year began promisingly, with steady training ramping up to a hugely gratifying day in the marin headlands.

the rest of may and june looked good on paper...but they didn't feel good. in fact, they felt like a physical and metaphysical vacuum, void even of indifference and inertia. i'm no astrophysicist, over here, but that seems pretty empty.

and while there have been days of reprieve, days i thought, "all right, we're finally turning this thing around," those days turned out to be just a tease. 

the doldrums persist.
there are many "worst of 45" lists out there, all difficult to wade through. even cherry-picking a couple of particularly odious examples is a challenge, since there are so many that are so revolting.

but if we're to suppose one person could drive people to feel clinically bad, substantiation is in order. to that end, let's agree (because such things are so easily validated) that 45:

  • is a racist white supremacist fascist
  • endorsed a child molester for the u.s. senate
  • wants to take healthcare coverage from millions of americans, which will cause many thousands to die prematurely
  • continues to allow the u.s. citizens of puerto rico to languish without water or electricity
  • is in bed, financially (and probably literally) with russia

even this fraction of a fragment of a partial list would be enough to dispirit howler monkeys on crack, let alone conscientious people waiting in vain for a complicit u.s. congress to do the least it can do given the circumstances.
deep breath.
six-plus years into my little experiment in running, my father is certain the next run will be the one that ruins my knees, leaving me unable to walk evermore.

sometimes i just nod and say, "boy, i sure hope not." other times i quietly remind him of the evidence to the contrary in the medical literature. he'll quote a coach from the 60s, i'll reference thousands of years of human ambulation...and eventually we'll agree to disagree.

what seems most likely to derail me from this path is the continued absence of running mojo. or whatever syndrome that characterizes as "incomplete" a year which included two marathons, a 50K, and a 100K.

somewhere, see, i fell in with a bad crowd. many of them routinely run a long way over many hours, and recover from such things in a matter of hours or days. horrible, horrible people, they are, who somehow tricked me into loving this unconventional journey.

it's because of them, it goes without saying, that i have already begun planning to repeat my mistakes of 2017.

the downfall will start with a couple of 25Ks in january, a 22-miler and a 50K in march, and a 50K in may. after that there is loose and crazy talk of a 100-miler.

why would you consider such a thing? you might ask, if you were away from home with no access to netflix.

i can't explain it, i would answer, leaving both of us to contemplate an icily disinterested universe.
with nothing further to add and nothing better to do, i'll just leave you with a bit of twitter wisdom:


sorry for the yelling.

total miles: 1,342.7
total time: 241 hours, 1 minute
elevation (painstakingly extracted from strava): 164,600 ft.

185 running days

best shoes:
hoka clifton 3 and 4
altra torin 3.0
topo terraventure

song stuck in my head the entire time: "precious love" ~ james morrison
oh, i got so distracted
by people all around
whispering sweet nothings
filling my head with doubt
so i gave up 
i didn't take long for me to see 
the one thing that i was missing
was standing in front of me

this is precious love
it's precious love 
no, i can't let it go
this is precious love
and its teaching me 
to be a better man...


Mommy Mighty Mouse said...

Beautifully written. I wish you much success in your many many miles this year! :)

spaceneedl said...

Thank you, Lisa. Very kind. My best to you on your journey, as well!