Marathon Man - The last week starts with the gods mocking me.
This episode starts with me stepping out of the comfort zone. The squeamish (or those with proper social sensibilities) should just quit reading now.
Still with me? Ok, here's some background.
I've written before about how surprised I am at the mental aspects of training. I've never been an athlete - I'd never been coached. I really wasn't ready for the idea of keeping my head in the game. Especially as the runs got longer, my mind really started getting in the way. With the real longer runs, the narrative in my head is how badly I really need to use a restroom. Running as laxative.
This has been the reason that I've made the last three longer runs on my own terms and not with the team. I can't expect the team coaches to be concerned about my mental fixation with always being within 5 minutes of a flush toilet. Once my mind decides I need a bathroom, that clanging stays front-most until I'm able to resolve the issue. After that, all is good.
Well, on the bike trail, or on new routes, I just don't know. And not knowing is worse. Even if there isn't a present need, my anxiety about not knowing how far I was from the FT became really loud in my head.
So, I've built these runs in my neighborhood that allow me to maintain, if not a five minute radius, a reasonable proximity to indoor plumbing. Plus, I know where I am and where I'm going. All is good. Now I'm just back to having my feet hurt and normal running concerns.
I remain interested in the mind over matter aspect of this, however. I mean, I want to conquer this problem. I have friends who enjoy trail running and it sounds like fun and there aren't flush toilets on the trails. I need to figure out a way to distract myself. I think.
This morning I thought I'd try something different. I'd run with headphones (which I normally don't do - the teams and most managed races don't allow it.) Specifically, I'd listen to the Radiolab podcast. Radiolab is a great show that talks about all things "science, philosophy and human experience". Great. My mind would be taken over by the sounds of science.
The first episode I hear is great; it's a little vignette on how a baby's brain develops and how she might understand the world and what it means exactly when she stares at you adoringly at about 2 months.
But then, we get to parasites. And after a brief introduction where we learn about wasps and cockroaches and other fairly distant entities, the conversations turn to parasites that live in humans. Specifically the hookworm. And the invention of the outhouse. And the story of a fellow who went to Africa specifically to become infected with hookworms to fight allergies and asthma! By wading around in toilet pits. AND NOW HE'S MINING HIS OWN FECES TO SELL HOOKWORMS! That's right, I was listening to a 24 minute story on the history of poop in America.
The next time I write you will be after the Marathon. The Cowtown is next Sunday. Ready, or not - here I come.
If you're just joining us, this is all about me running the Cowtown Marathon this October as a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Details can be found here. You can make donations here.