Friday, July 16, 2010

9 down, 453 to go

For those of you keeping track (because I know you’ve all really been waiting on pins and needles), this is officially week 1 of the marathon training program.

Over the next 18 weeks, I’m supposed to run more miles (453) than I have run over the last three years combined (431.2). 

Thankfully -- because this is a novice training program after all -- I don’t have to run them all in one day.

Right now, that’s about the only positive thing going for me in this whole ill-advised plan (and when I say ill-advised, I’m taking a jab at that fool who was looking back at me in the mirror eight months ago when this idea first took root in my head. If I recall correctly, he said ‘Yeah, you should totally do that. It’s better than swimming with sharks.)

Since the end of stage one (the 10K in early June), I’ve done some running, but not nearly as much as I would’ve hoped. On one hand, I know I am woefully under-prepared for the next four months. On the other, it’s probably best that my legs got one last stretch of rest before I wear them into oblivion. 

What I have developed in the last couple of weeks, though, is a better feel and appreciation for the neighborhood we recently moved into. It’s grown on me quickly, to the point where I much prefer running here to our old neighborhood. 

It’s not nearly as polished, quiet or clean, but it has boatloads more character, which can make an hour-long run seem much, much faster.

This is a place where more people hang out at the 7-11 than the bowling alley. It’s a place where some people still say “Yo”, while others erupt into violent bouts of tourettes. 

Most of the men in the area are acutely allergic to wearing shirts while every dog allowed out of its house boasts an allergy to wearing leashes.

It seems there are enough feral cats to have one for every house in the area, although most of them hang out at that one house with the refrigerator on the porch and the boat parked in the garage. 

Toddlers clad solely in diapers ride industrial hand trucks around like box cars and fledgling biker gangs ride around on, well, bicycles.

The air hums with the sound of dirt bikes in the afternoon and pops with the sound of firecrackers at night. 

Everyone barbecues. All the time. I think I saw someone grilling a breakfast burrito the other day. 

There are people who call their kids “Spike” and their dogs “Matty.” There’s an unspoken code that anything piled up in front of the house is free for the taking, unless of course, it’s affixed with a sign reading “Not Free.”

One man offered me all the bedroom furniture on his front lawn. For free. I politely declined, explaining I wouldn’t  be able to carry it home with me. Fearing I was about to trigger one of those sudden bouts mentioned above, I sped away at a brisk walk-jog.

“Yeah, well if you know anyone else who needs some furniture, you just have them come on by to see me,” he shouted after me.

The thing of it is, I enjoy this neighborhood. The people are well-intentioned, if not outright friendly and for all of its quirks and idiosyncrasies, I feel strangely safer running out here than when I lived in town. 

And that’s a good thing, because running is just about the only thing I’m going to be doing out here for a while. 

So with that, I seal week one in the books. I’ve got a six-miler on Saturday, which leads into a 16-mile week next week. Wish me luck!

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