Holy F I got busy! Between schoolwork, more schoolwork, and getting ready for the trip to upstate New York for the marathon, yesterday was one of those days where every single waking minute was accounted for.
The result — no blog post and a track workout in the dark. Literally, the dark. The hour between 7:00 and 8:00 in the evening was the first chance I got to do my final track workout of this training program, and halfway through it I couldn’t read the numbers on my watch anymore without the Indiglo.
It was one of the strangest workouts I’ve ever done. The final workouts before a marathon are always weird; I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this. The runs are easy, so you have time to think about all the training you’ve done and about previous races and tapers, and most of all, you think about the upcoming marathon. Exciting and scary all at once. Thoughts are deeper; the songs you listen to take on more meaning; there seems to be a strange Zen-calm over everything.
Maybe this is what it always feels like to people who love running. I’d love it too if it were always like this.
The circumstances served only to make the run more dreamlike and surreal. What’s weirder than running circles in the dark? How about running circles in the dark when the track is packed with people, all running in the opposite direction? A running group was there surprisingly late, and for some reason they were all running clockwise on the track while I was going counterclockwise.
Weird enough, right? Oh no, there’s more. Right at the beginning of the workout, I heard a marching band playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I couldn’t see them because whatever field they were on was obscured by trees. But it sounded nice, and I figured maybe that was their end-of-practice song or something, since it was getting dark. But as soon as they finished, all this cheering erupted.
And then they started playing a lot more, mostly drums, and with lots more cheering. Then lights came on over their field, and this strange glow and all these drumbeats overflowed the trees onto the track where I was. A little bit tribal, a little bit Fourth-of-July. A lot weird.
So I ran my 16 laps like this, alternating 400’s at 1:24 with rest 400’s. Feeling the Zen tranquility of tapering, the light disappearing, passing people going the opposite direction, the tribal-parade drumming and glow penetrating the darkness of the track where the only sounds were footsteps and people breathing hard. As I hit the final lap, I realized that this lap would be my last one at the track before the marathon. This same track where I got hurt back in February and where I have run so many impossible, no-way-I-can-make it laps by myself since coming back from that injury and setting my sights on this marathon that seemed so far off when I started.
I gave that last lap everything I had. I didn’t need to; I did it for no reason other than that I felt like it and I wanted to go out with a bang. And as I sprinted as hard as I could, a Bob Dylan came on my iPod. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.
It was very, very weird. And somehow, it was perfect.