Saturday, July 23, 2011

On Running

Maura was a runner. A damn fine one, in fact. A state record holder. She trained daily. People in Hanson remember seeing her jogging around the school grounds on Christmas with her father and her sister, Julie. A runner, especially an accomplished runner, has a certain mindset that non-runners can't understand without a little explanation.

I'm no award-winning marathoner. But when I hit 32, my metabolism went to shit and now I run a four mile course three or four times a week. Having never run before, I thought it would be easy. Just listen to some Zeppelin on my iPod and have at it. What I discovered was that distance running is a lot like writing a book.

First of all, you cannot think of the entire course at once, you have to consider it as little accomplishments: can I make it to the end of that bridge without stopping for a break? can I make it around that turn before I slow down? can I make it to the halfway point in twenty minutes? Writing a long novel is like that. You have to think chapter by chapter or the sheer length of it will get you down.

It's also addicting. And I don't mean addicting like the way you think you're addicted to chocolate or TV. It's addicting like a drug. Like good coke, even. That adrenaline that surges through your body after a good, hard run. And like any drug, you have to go a little farther the next time to get the same high. Eventually, you find that you're chasing it. That you crave it.

Running trains you to control your mind, your emotions. You retreat into your mind on long runs, even if you're listening to music. Like the kid from the Neverending Story who was faced with his own reflection in the middle of the snowy wastes, you are forced to confront your true nature on long runs. You make a peace with yourself or you simply cannot do it.

This was Maura. She knew control better than the average person ever could. Better than even a part-time runner. Mostly I'll never believe she committed suicide because she was such a good runner. She was hard-wired to make peace with herself. Through running and also through her military training.

I think she was getting away (running away if you want) to get her bearings again. I think she only intended on being away for a couple days.

If she is alive out there somewhere, she'd be running, still. She couldn't stop if she wanted to. Unfortunately, that probably means she would have been spotted by now.

2 comments:

  1. I can't wait to hear more...

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  2. Does anybody else remember it being stated a couple of years ago that Maura had sustained an injury which cut short her running career?

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