It was still pitch black at 6:30. The stars above me shined clearer and brighter than any California sky I have ever seen. As much as I love it, I try not to look up. It reminds me of where I am, in this tiny place on this tiny planet. It makes me feel smaller, more insignificant, incredibly selfish.
To the east a sliver of light cracks across the sky, mellow and distant. The countdown ding of Nike+ pings in my ears until I hear “beginning workout” and my feet push the pavement further and further behind me. I consciously am aware of the distance my legs move forward and back – my focus these past few weeks is to run slower outside, so I can run longer.
This is my first non-sidewalk-by-the-road, non-track run. Hafer Park is beautiful by day, and somewhat creepy at night. As I walked through the park Monday, I was reminded of Central Park in New York City. A blissful gem hidden in the middle of a broken and scared place, a tiny dot of green buried in the middle of a fabricated city. That’s what I saw Hafer Park as. A moment of tree’d perfection, a slice of the California I know, love and miss – complete with black walnut trees – smack dab in the middle of an empty, open, barren plain.
The small of my back hurts as I run, something I’ve dealt with on and off for years. It stings me, taunts me, screams at me to stop running, to slow down, to just give up now. I cannot do that. Not now, not yet. I haven’t gotten my mile marker. I must make it to my mile marker. I am almost to my mile marker.
At the end of the summer I heard or read somewhere “when you’re tired of something, the best thing to do is just keep doing it.” This can be read as “when you’re tired of writing, just keep writing” or “when you’re tired of running, just keep running” or “when you’re tired of the elaborate, elusive agony of being a graduate student, just keep studying, writing and paying attention in class, no matter how difficult.”
As the sweat begins to bead on my forehead and trickle down my face, I come to a downhill slope and complete my mile. For today.
(The mile was 8:26, in case you were wondering.)