The days you think are going to be big ones, they are never as big as you make them out to be in your head. It’s the regular days, the ones that start out normal, those are the days that end up being the biggest.
Today marks my last long run. It's the last weekend where I will have to start thinking about what I'm eating two whole days before the big workout. It's the last time that I will be "busy" one night of the weekend. Busy eating, sleeping and running, that is. It's the last weekend morning that I will wake up early and venture out into the city that never sleeps during her morning nap.
So naturally, I'm jumping for joy that I finally get that long run day back to myself. Not so much.
I'm not sure when these long runs went from chore to pleasure, but I suddenly love every inch of them from the waking-up-early-part to the cold-bath-part. Of course, those long runs aren't all cupcakes and sunshine. I usually hit one or two patches during the run when my mind becomes hyper-conscious of every footstep already taken and everyone footstep yet to come and the miles stretch out for days.
But it's awful and awesome all at the same time.
When I cross my "finishing line" and stumble to a bench to stretch out, I'm all smiles. In fact, before I even finish, as I shuffle down musuem mile past all the tourists taking pictures of the park and the museums, I'm smiling like a fool. I hope I'm doing my part to dispell the myth about angry New Yorkers.
That sense of accomplishment after a run is so huge and yet so singular and personal. During the run, it's all about the next step, but when it's over, and I stare down the miles past, I still cannot help but be surprised that I actually ran that far. I imagine that for someone who has been running their whole life - the Ryan Halls of the world - that this would just be another day. But to me, who only two summers ago I tackled my first run in Central Park by running barely a mile and a half, to me, it's almost a miracle.
I've definitely had periods in my life where I've been more fit than I was two years ago. In high school, I was borderline obsessed with swimming and trained year round, sometimes twice a day. During graduate school I picked up a six mile a day run habit. But when I moved to the Big Apple, working long hours and partying took precedence and my health fell to the wayside. And that was exactly how I envisioned my life unfolding in this city. After all, isn't that what we see on television and in the movies?
Life in this city is supposed to be a grand whirl of new restuarants and designer coctails, four inch high heels and jobs that require late hours and suits. Or it's about trying to make it for the love of your art, and discovering the awesome counter-culture that thrives in every corner of the city not overgrown with tourists. But instead of all of that glamour, I found my way, dirty and sweaty, on a run.
And that's why I will miss these long runs, because each time I finish a long run, it reminds me that things never turn out the way that I expect, and that good things come from the small and seemingly inconsequential decisions. They fill my weeks with a regular and grand sense of accomplishment that gives me the courage and the strength to try to tackle the impossible in other areas of my life. As the sports writer John Hanc put it, "I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."
Quote from "What a Difference A Day Makes" of Grey's Anatomy.