This is Part III of my intermittent series on my dysfunctional relationship with running. Part IV may show up in a few weeks or never, depending whether running and I can work out or differences. You can read Parts I and II by clicking here.
Walking And Watching
The bed and breakfast my daughter and I rented on Mykonos was buried under seven layers of charming. It was a located a couple miles above town, atop a hill covered with dry grass. The red and white cottage offered a birds-eye view of the town and the coastline below. It was a place and a scene that transcended time, as well as the chaos of my otherwise scattered life. I would be at peace there, if only for a short time. Upon checking in, prior to going out for the evening, my daughter and I chose to lay back for an hour or so and enjoy a little air conditioning and some Greek television. Later, as she prepared for first our evening out, I took a walk to explore possible running routes for the morning, and to take in the setting sun, beyond the distant edge of the Aegean Sea.
We walked slowly down a 2-mile hill into town, as we took in the quaint surroundings. The road was lined with lots of scooters, undersized cars, and white cottages trimmed in blue or red. In town, we enjoyed a traditional Greek dinner on a patio table just a few feet off the water. We must have spent two hours eating, talking, and doing a great deal of people watching. After dinner we took our people watching on the road. We walked through town slowly, stopping in shops and markets sparingly. Mostly, we just walked, conversed, and took in the vibe of a Mykonos evening. Eventually we walked back uphill to the cottage, and put the day to rest.
What Goes Down Must Come Up
I woke early while my daughter slept in. I decided I would run into town and along the coast with no specific distance or time in mind – I would just let the scenery pull me along, hoping to enjoy another run as I had in Athens several days before. Running down the hill into town I was mesmerized and inspired by the view. My run along the flat coastline was just as inspired. I felt strong. I stayed on the water’s edge with no idea of time or distance. I just ran at a steady pace. I knew eventually I would have to turn and head inland and back up the hill to wake my daughter and share breakfast.
As I turned, I looked up to face the hill I had run down. Shit. Apparently I never gave much thought to the return trip. This 2-mile monster of a hill was easily a 20% grade, but I had no option, so I relied on faith. When I hit the hill I adjusted my pace. It was slightly more than a shuffle, but less than a run. Within a few minutes I realized that I wasn’t going to die, so I increased my pace slightly. After a few more minutes I increased it again. What was going on here? I had slept and eaten well all week, and had also run consistently. Perhaps I had finally earned my way in to the title of, runner.
When I arrived at the cottage I took only a few minutes to cool down, stretch, and towel off. This might have been the best run of my life. No, this was the best run of my life. I was on Mykonos, I was having a wonderful time with my daughter, and I just completed the best run of my life. I was on top of the world. Now it was time to walk back down the same hill I had just conquered, and enjoy breakfast in town with my daughter. All the way down the hill I looked at the homes, scooters, and golf carts that I passed on the way up, and acknowledged them as if they were old friends. I loved this hill.
The Broken Engagement
I didn’t run again until we were back in Athens. When I did run, I returned to the scene of my prior best run. I was seeking continued inspiration. Running is a fickle girl. Or perhaps my expectations of her are too high. That happens in relationships. Back at the Greek stadium though, I had returned to my usual running self; able and committed, but not necessarily engaged or inspired – just going through the motions. For the first time I began to rethink said engagement to said fickle girl. I actually contemplated giving up running altogether. The illusive runner’s high was only occasional in this relationship. I mean, why would I stay in any relationship that would only bring me occasional joy…? But I’m not a quitter either. I gave my commitment to running, and I was prepared to continue. In coming weeks though, it became clear we were in need of counseling. To be continued…
Be well. rc…
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Dog Trumpet, enjoy…