Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Closing in on 400

I was suddenly in the street and moving with purpose. Judging by the light reflecting off the city’s skyscrapers, it must have been late morning, bordering on noon. I dodged oncoming pedestrians as we made our way in opposite directions through the crosswalk. Something caught my eye down the side street to my left. When I looked over, I saw, wait…could it be?

“Ryan.” A voice called out to see if he’d look up.
“Ryan!” this time louder. He did look up this time, as he pulled a fresh pair of blue Oakleys from a plastic shopping bag and adjusted them on his face. Shaggy bleach blonde hair, almost yellow, stuck out in all directions around the earpieces.

“Yes, it’s Ryan Hall,” his wife Sara called out as she pushed her way through the crowd converging on her husband, as if to say, “I’ll wait for you on the other side.”

He started handing out autographed postcards that had a long desert road reaching back into infinity and the caption: “Do what you love” on some and “Never give up” on others.

I fumbled in my pockets for my iPhone to snap a picture then cursed myself, pursing my lips and realizing, of all times, that I’d forgotten my phone.

As Ryan neared me, he looked down at his watch that had started beeping. “Sorry, guys,” he said. “Gotta jet.” But as he disappeared, the beeping got louder rather than softer. My shoulders dropped. “Gotta jet, indeed,” I said aloud.

My eyes snapped open. The dawn began to filter into our room, about the time I usually think that I have another merciful hour to sleep. But not this morning. I gently shook my wife to make sure she too got out of bed.

I stumbled to the dresser and pulled on my Brooks shorties, brushed my teeth, and willed my legs to loosen up as I Frankensteined down the stairs. I took my water bottle from the freezer, and in no less than seven minutes since Ryan Hall’s watch beeped in my dream, I was out the door to tackle a 9.2 mile loop before work.

If all goes according to plan, my 400 miles between June 1 and July 31 is less than 24 hours away. To put it simply, it’s been a lot of running. So much so apparently, it has infiltrated my dreams.

It’s funny. I normally reserve the afternoons for my longer runs, opting for what feels like a blissfully short 5K to start the morning of which I sleepwalk through half of to “feel the day.” But yesterday, the mercury rose to 98 degrees and coupled with the humidity, it pushed the “feels like” temp well over 100. To get my p.m. mileage in for the day, I had 10.8 miles on the agenda with strides and drills at the end making it 11.1 for the afternoon. Dedicated? Maybe. Stupid. Most certainly. I commanded myself to keep the pace light and easy as I circled my 5.4 mile loop twice, giving myself the option to bail if things got too hot.

I finished the run ok but the last two miles left me lightheaded and standing under a cold shower when I returned home. The heat advisory for today had already been issued, so I slugged water bottle after water bottle, got to bed early, and set the alarm for 5:30 to *gulp* get those nine miles in before it got unbearable.

After falling immediately asleep, I awoke several times thinking I had to get up and get moving, only to realize that the room was still dark. I rolled over. I slept on my back. I tucked a pillow between my knees. I tried to focus on the hum of the fan. But the harder I tried to fall asleep, the more awake I became.

You see, when I take on longer runs in the morning, I get nervous, worried that I won’t have enough to complete the run or take too long that it makes me late for work. It’s not until a mile or so into the run that I let myself relax and realize that I’m out there, doing it, and I’m going to finish it.

So, after laying awake for so many hours or minutes, I’m still not sure, that must be why Ryan Hall seemed so real walking toward to me. While I puttered around the house, the dream stayed with me, and I thought, Ryan Hall waking me up for a run in the morning has to be a pretty good omen.

Gotta jet.

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