Hello there! Yesterday, I did my long run for the week. Although I have been running for the past month, I started the actual twelve-week marathon training plan only this last week. It includes four runs of different distances, intensity and two days of cross training. Total miles for week one: sixteen. So not crazy, right? I did it and I feel good. The plan’s total miles for a week tops out at thirty-five miles but that’s much further down the road.
Yesterday’s run of six miles is just a bit shy of ten kilometers. I’m Canadian so I tend to use the metric system. I completed the run in fifty minutes. That means, if I was able to sustain that pace (unlikely), I could complete the Marathon in roughly three hours and forty minutes. Maybe forty-five minutes. That’s okay except I have the ambitious goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. For my age group, that means completing the Marathon in under three hours and twenty-five minutes. I’m looking at cutting my projected time (which I admit is still too early to accurately predict) by twenty or more minutes. Doable? Yes. Tough? You bet.
When I was full-tilt training for Triathlons, I flirted with a forty minute ten-kilometer run. And though that was some time ago, running is one of those activities where you don’t lose a lot of speed with age. Not endurance running at least. So I know I can get back to that speed but can I do it in time for the Marathon? I sure as hell am going to try.
If I am successful, this does not mean I am guaranteed a place in the Boston Marathon. It is a large race and because of this, has more applicants than there is space for. So, some guys in my age group still run a sub-three-hour Marathon. And the spots go to those in each age group that post the fastest time which may or may not be me. And that would be really ambitious. Like, crazy ambitious. So, I’m just going to do my best to qualify and go from there.
I’m enjoying posting about this and will probably continue to do so but to prove this is NOT a running blog, here is a short story I wrote I couldn’t find a home for. This is the first part anyways. I’ll post more of it as I go along. Hope you enjoy. Like, comment, or not. I do check this regularly and appreciate feedback and or questions.
Have an excellent day.
Itsy Bitsy Betty
The only time I’ve ever wanted to kill someone, to actually be responsible for another person’s death was when I was ten going on eleven. I’m older now, an adult, whatever that means, and as I write this, details of that time blur. To my adult mind, most of it seems ridiculous, some sad recollections of a lonely child. I was lonely then, although I didn’t know it at the time. I still have enough of the kid in me who believes in magic, knows some things out there defy explanation and I suppose even if I get some of the sequences wrong it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Because it did happen. I know it did. I just want to write it down now before I start to doubt it, as adults are likely to do. Hell, we are almost programmed to shun any childish notion: especially magic. I want to get it all down, while it’s still fresh in my head and all doubts to its veracity are nonexistent. How should I begin this? Once upon a time? Almost all stories of fancy begin that way. Since this is a true story, I’ll just say it all started with a lonely boy. A boy with a strange gift.
After I was born, my mother couldn’t work. All of this information about my formative years I had gotten mostly from my father, who didn’t stick around forever, and really, it’s hard to blame the guy. I figured my mom drove him away. She used to say the most awful things to him. My mom attributed her behavior to post-partum depression. A temporary ailment that, in my mother’s case, became permanent. She had been the manager of a local grocery superstore, but after I joined our happy home, she couldn’t go back. Or, as my father used to say with a smirk, wouldn’t go back. Her uniform, a white collared shirt, and black apron hung in her closet for years, still in dry cleaner plastic. My mother felt the need to remind me that my birth had been unremarkable, other than causing her agonizing pain for hours on end.
After I had been born, she cried a lot. She would stare out the window with a glass of wine in her hand, mascara making tracks down her cheeks, as she counted the cars passing on our street. When the wine came out, I learned to make myself scarce. I remember not liking the smell of her breath when she hugged me. After one of these hugs, my face would be damp. She always had a sheen of sweat on her, soaking the collar of her shirts.
I know now she did the best she could and I’m not angry at her. I used to be. I think my dad never stopped being angry with her and that’s probably why he left. She had never been outright mean towards me yet the more she drank, the more careless her words became. I got the feeling she regretted ever having me. Most times, when I recognized the red stained lips, I would slip away into my room and wait to be called for lunch or dinner. I didn’t have many friends. Actually, I didn’t have any friends. My mom picked me up from school once, drunk, swaying on her feet, teeth red with wine and words slurred with alcohol. I remember the look of horrified disgust on the faces of other parents. They drew their kids into them, as though shielding them in case my mom got too close. We walked home and a couple of parents followed at a distance to make sure I got home okay. Anyways, after that stunt, no one would let their kids hang out with me or come over to my house. Who would though, right? In this loneliness, I made other friends and strangely enough, enemies.
Well, enemy, as in singular. Alex Cobb didn’t like me. I never knew the reason why. Maybe my very appearance annoyed him and incited him to cruelty. I spent most of my school hours avoiding him and in the summer I tried my best to stay inside unless forced out by my mom wanting time to think straight or telling me I’d better go out and get some fresh air.
I might have been eight closing on nine when I first met my friends. It had been during the summer and after stuffing my stomach with waffles and syrup, I walked outside into the backyard and laid on my back in the grass, legs, and arms splayed out in a star pattern. I liked the way the sun’s heat rolled up and down my body, almost buzzing on my skin. I turned over onto my stomach, the uncomfortable fullness of it pressing hard into the ground and so I rolled onto my side, my head resting on one arm while I straightened the other one out in front of me. I closed my eyes, smelling the fresh cut grass and hearing the hiss of sprinklers fanning their water over thirsty lawns.
In this state of relaxation, a tickling started at the skin between my fingers and moved along my forearms. I cracked open an eye and on my forearm sat four spiders in a straight line. We stared at each other. I felt no fear. I examined their dark eyes and stick-like legs holding up their fat bodies effortlessly. Three of them lowered their abdomens to my arm like they were taking a load off. The fourth one rolled over onto its back, like a cat sunning its belly, the spindly legs clawing at the air. If they made any noise I could hear, I’m sure it would have been a sigh of contentment. I smiled. I knew, even then, how incredible this was.
The screen door banged open and a surge of fear squeezed my heart and stole the moisture from my mouth. My mom hated spiders. I remember her screaming and running from a room once, face pale and twisted, a high-pitched mewling hissing between her teeth. My dad bolted out of his chair startled out of sleep, wiping the drool off the corner of his mouth, bug-eyed and panicked. My mom screamed, “Spider!” My dad rolled the newspaper in his lap into a tube and walked into the bedroom, shaking his head at my mother’s antics. I remembered that moment and I didn’t want a repeat of it. I turned my body so my head blocked my arm. The spider playing cat rolled to its feet and waited.
“You got any sunscreen on?”
“Not yet mom.”
Her flip-flops snapped as she walked on the grass.
I whispered, “Move!”
The spiders fled from my arm and hid in the grass. Her shadow darkened the emerald stalks.
“You know you need to put that on before you leave the house. C’mon now. I’ll put it on you.”
She pulled me up by my wrist. Her eyes were red and she squinted in the sunlight. She hadn’t started drinking yet today, but now, looking back on it, I’d say she fought a tremendous hangover almost daily.
I let myself be led away, glancing over my shoulder trying to catch a glimpse of my friends. I was still a child then and I had no doubts as to what I had just witnessed was real. I wanted to see them again.
To be continued…