Early October. Since 2001 early October has heralded the beginning of marathon season; training during the hot summer months has been rewarded with the cooler mornings of fall and this runner looked forward to going the distance surrounded by a much more accommodating temperature. It is easier to breathe, your pace quickens, and the anticipation of and excitement (and respectful anxiety) for the long-awaited event -- or, in many cases, events -- heightens your appreciation of the good weather.
The last few weeks have been gloriously cool. Runners abound on the trails and roads from the time I take the Memorial Bridge exit until I get to work -- they are everywhere. I used to be where they are, running the same course and greeting the morning with a healthy sweat, energized heart and muscles, and a great big goofy smile. God, it was wonderful, like nothing else.
Many of my friends have been training all summer and are preparing for a variety of marathons: Steamtown, Marine Corps, New York, Richmond. I have run each of these races at least twice. When I crossed the finish line at New York last November I shed a few tears knowing it was my last race. As I dictate this tonight, (DQ alert! DQ alert!) my voice cracks and my heart breaks with the longing to be able to pull up my socks, tie my shoes, and run the way I used to. I can only put a positive face on this for so long before I look at it long and hard and realize I am not that runner anymore. I hate Louise for taking it away from me.
7 hours ago