Sunday, January 30, 2011

on running, boredom, and survival

jamie, mari, andrew, and nora at the 2011 resolution run 5k & polar bear dive
i recently told my friend nora that running was boring. when i said this, i was surrounded by runners. in fact, i myself was running. there was some serious irony dashing about.*

we were threading our way through a pack of new year's day marathoners, racing toward a chilly finish--a plunge in lake washington. the sun was shining bright, but the temp never broached the freezing mark, and so runners would periodically wave their arms in the air and cry, "ice! ice! ice!" as a warning to the surging crowd behind. there were even doughnuts. 

but i didn't mean that i was bored at that moment or even in that race. the brilliant sunshine, the excited banter of our running cadre, and the anticipation of our impending polar bearization all added up to a fine level of happy engagement. i simply meant that the motion of foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, look left, breath, foot, look right, foot, breath, look left, foot, breath, look forward, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, lift shirt to brow, foot, wipe brow, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, breath, foot, foot, spit, foot, big breath, foot, foot is dull.**

yet it turned out that the 5k was fun, but not because the running was fun; not because i found a head-foot groove where the world slipped away and there was just me and the motion, just me and some kind of meditative trance; not because i rejoiced in the burning of calories or the achievement of a new personal best. the running that day (and in the days since) was not boring in the same way that this blog entry may not be boring. because if you got this far, you probably know me; when you read this, you can probably hear my voice or imagine me making the wacky facial expressions i inherited from my dad--the arching eye brow, the wrinkled forehead--and so it's not that you're reading a well-crafted thought piece or an explosive, jaw-dropping page-turner (this is, after all, about running), it's that we are connected.

and if i am to run, i need connection. i need something outside the self and the path and my feet. i need ice patches and obstacles. i need the promise of a mind-bending dip in the lake. if i am to run, if i am to press on, if i am to run this race where it takes me, then i need my friends and i need my family. i need you running beside me.***


xoxoxoxoxoxo



here's a youtube clip of me playing alexi murdoch's "orange sky," which expresses a similar sentiment to the one i concluded with in this post--i even adjust the final lyric to make it more personal--though murdoch sings of brothers and sisters "standing by," not running beside:
 


xoxoxoxoxoxo

* i went to a philosophy colloquium today and perhaps i should have asked our prof about irony. it's a word that, despite my english major roots, i hesitate to use. in fact, when i come upon questionable uses of the word irony in my editing career, i tend to avoid correcting writers, instead opting for something more wishy-washy like, "please confirm that this usage of irony matches your personal understanding of the word. for more reference, see the oatmeal." yet in this blog entry i use it with abandon, even combining it with a bad pun.


** the dull sentence of a thousand nouns is inspired by an essay from lorrie moore's collection birds of america, in which moore has two consecutive pages of the word "ha." i read somewhere that moore used well over one thousand has.


*** this wasn't just an excuse to write a lame, heartwarming metaphor about life being like running or to highlight my stellar ability to adapt two-chord pop songs to the piano. i've actually been running several times a week since that new year's eve marathon, and as the post suggests, i'm running with friends. surprisingly, running and chatting with friends who run at a similar pace is quite the opposite of boring.

2 comments:

Alex Jonson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Jonson said...

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