We ran in the woods, and it was a beautiful day. Even when it rained for a few minutes, the rain felt good, and we were almost sad when it stopped. This was an event that turned into a non-event, and though it was perfect in all the ways I just said, it was also dissatisfying in a way that has more to do with ego and expectations than anything real.
It was supposed to be a half-marathon, but I failed to download the course in any useable way, so we threw ourselves on the mercy of the course markings. There were no course markings.
That’s because I thought the last day of the “race” was Sunday, when it was actually Saturday. Even if I had properly loaded the course into a device that would tell me where to go, and even if I had run the 13.1 miles, I was a day late to submit my time anyway.
None of that matters.
We ran six miles. At 4 1/2 B’s knee (bee’s knees?) started to hurt. Soon that pain was shooting down to her ankle and up to her hip. She struggled gamely. She “toughed it out.” But tendon pain doesn’t submit to toughness. It’s arc is unidirectional. She swore she’d get to six miles and she did.
At that point, she said I should go and run another lap, because this was a half-marathon, but in my head it had stopped being a half-marathon an hour before. Maybe it never was one.
None of that matters.
We walked back to the car and stretched in the shade. I pulled off my shirt and let the breeze dry me off, and then I put on a clean, dry shirt, and that was magic. We had parked across from a farm, and the farm sat there, still and quiet. The morning was perfect in so many ways.
Then we asked Google to tell us where coffee was and we drove into town and found the spot and sat out front and sipped it and reviewed what we’d done. We talked about her knee and what could be done about it. And I said that the run was good, but that I felt dissatisfied. I hadn’t finished anything (if I’d ever started), and that just rankled, despite the perfection of being together in the woods with the sun shining.
I explained all this to Meghna this morning as we ran through another perfect morning.
Meghna said that while we were there in the woods, she had been on her own run, finishing at the local Stonehenge. We have this tradition, when we run to this particular water tower, that we knock on the heavy, locked door. It’s our way of running all the way there, a symbol of completion. When she got to Stonehenge though, there was a meditation class arrayed on the grass around the door. She couldn’t get there, and she walked away after 11 1/2 miles feeling slightly dissatisfied. Incomplete.
It’s in our natures to be dissatisfied, I guess. Maybe you can’t push your limits if you feel whole and content with what you’ve done so far. There is an upside to this downside. Satisfaction is ephemeral and arbitrary, capricious even.
Time rolls on. I can’t dwell on it, and I can’t let that need for completion ruin a perfect morning in the woods with my best girl. It wasn’t what we expected (of ourselves), but it was good, and tomorrow there’s more if we’re up to it.