My runner friends say that the first two miles are always the toughest, and then you feel like you can go on forever. I agree with the first half of that sentence. I’m a slow runner, which means that there were parents pushing strollers keeping pace with me. All was well until the Mile 3 marker. There were trees with autumnal leaves all about, and it smelled a little like burning firewood out, which is one of my favorite scents. And then there was a long and slow-ascending hill.
That hill was horrendous. I ended up walking up it because walking was faster than running at that point. I also spent those .5 miles talking to myself. If running is mostly mental, I was embodying that. At this point, I had lost sight of my stroller/parent friends, and was on that hill alone. So I only had myself for encouragement to keep going.
Finally, the path flattened out a bit, and it took everything in me to start running again, but once I did, all was well once more. Before I knew it, I was at the Mile 4 marker, and my brain erupted in a celebratory “only two more miles to go!” chant.
Only it was 2.2 miles more to go, and that extra .2 miles feels like way more when you’ve been running for an hour and your nose is running with you because it’s 42 degrees out and suddenly you’re being passed by a 67 year-old woman. Only she was probably actually 87 because running keeps you young.
And then, just like that, I was done.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
― Haruki Murakami,