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Where I conjure the end of a run

by John on October 4th, 2011

Pressure mounts from within.

My heart beats, faster and faster, causing my chest to ache.

The sound of my feet, pounding on the pavement, strikes and reverberates against quiet homefronts, making it sound like someone coming up, quickly, behind me.

I push myself faster to keep that person in check.

My legs strain. I struggle, but succeed, to keep my breath measured.

The ache in my chest drowns by the screaming from my legs.

I see my home through a steady downpour of sweat.

I dig up something from inside.

I lose myself.

I’m home.

53 Comments
  1. So well done. I know that feeling well, and you did an excellent job taking me to that place.

    Though I am impressed you can keep your breath in check. Part of the reason I run with music is that I hate hearing my out-of-control breathing.

    • Well, that “keep your breath in check” is up for debate, I think. I know I’ve been told “you breathe funny” in the middle of a marathon – but, I try to keep myself going so that I am always drawing steady breaths (this results in me running very, very slow).

  2. I don’t run but this is how I always imagined it would be… burning chest, uncontrolled breathing, aching legs, drenching sweat. You’re words bring images straight to my mind. And they’ve re-inforced my decision to stick with the elliptical and never run. Well, I’d also have to add klutzy to the list of reasons why I don’t run. I trip over my feet when I’m just standing– running on concrete in public doesn’t sound like something for my klutzy body.

    • Oh, believe me, I’m a complete klutz. Now that it’s getting cold, I need to be careful about my route, because I’ve had my feet head out from under me in the middle of a run. Whoops.

      I used to be an “indoor only” workout guy – my first 5k got me outside . . . though, I’ll admit that I miss the elliptical every now & then.

  3. I remember this feeling well. And when reading this, I miss it… especially the sense of accomplishment after good training.

    • It is something great, isn’t it? Sitting down, letting your body return to normal, knowing that you truly pushed yourself . . . it’s addicting.

  4. I can, in no way, relate to this.

    I mean, physical exertion?

    I’m not sure I understand.

    • That’s because you’re sane.

      Well, you’re more-sane than me.

      • This might be the first time anyone’s called me sane.

        I’m going to pause a moment and take it in.

        (Oh, and the word you were looking for was lazy!)

  5. I love this. I have toyed with being a runner over the past few years and could feel the sweat running down my back and the burn in my lungs as I read. Oof, now I need a nap!

    • I always need a nap :-)

      But, I’ve grown addicted to that burn in my lungs. And sweat pouring down in sheets.

      If you couldn’t tell, I look like a freaking wet sponge as I go about. I’m darn sexy ;-)

  6. Okay, this is what running is like for me, except I just feel miserable and awkward and slow afterwards.

    I do love my yoga, though.

    • I need to get back into regular yoga – I always like it, but I never make it a habit.

      And Cameron? I always feel slow and awkward . . . only, ever since I completed the first 5k, I seldom feel miserable after a run.

  7. I haven’t gone for a run in awhile but this post brings back memories. Home is always a welcome sight after a long run.

    • I need to change up my route . . . I have a really great training run that takes me past my house every 6 miles . . . only, I’m nearing a full marathon, and I’m looking at getting 18 miles in for those training runs. Home is a very welcome sight – unfortunately, every now & then, it’s so welcome that I “forget” the last lap :-)

  8. As a reluctant runner, I really enjoyed this. I’m very well acquainted with that feeling of pushing through when the end is finally in sight. Good job!

    • That feeling with the end in sight is actually somewhat new to me . . . I’m used to just going until I can’t go anymore. But, after some shorter races (I have absolutely nothing left at the end of a marathon), I’ve noticed that I still have something left in the tank – meaning I could have gone faster . . . so, yeah, it’s kind of fun to go as hard as you can go, even if it’s only for a little bit.

    • By the way – “reluctant runner?”

  9. The weather is finally cool enough that I can start walking/jogging outside. I love this time of year.

    • I’ve been running through the summer. I swear, there were days that I’m pretty sure it would have been easier to just give it up & run in a pool.

      This is the perfect time of year for long runs, because you can actually let your mind wander (rather than fixate on the fact that it’s damn hot out)

  10. When I read about runners I am so intriqued, because I don’t run and don’t want to….(LOL) but it seems like such an inspirational time, to be alone, to shake out your brain.
    You did that…by the end, I was almost panting with the effort of the run with you…and so happy to see my home, standing in front of me.

    WOW. :)

    • All I can say is that the “runner’s high” is a very real thing. There are large sections of a long run where I can’t even begin to tell you where I was or what was going on around me – it was just my feet taking me and my brain shut off.

      I wouldn’t have believed the phenomenon if it wasn’t a regular occurrence in my life.

  11. Go you!

    I love the dig deep from within- so necessary, so painful.

    Can I say it again?

    Go you!

  12. So authentic. As a newbie runner, I just love the line “I dig up something from inside.” That’s pretty much how I feel from the first minute of running until I stop!

    • As someone who still considers himself a “newbie runner,” but realizes that, perhaps, he should have stopped calling himself that after the first marathon, I can say that the first minute “dig up something from inside” during the first minute never, ever goes away. Every run, I nearly stop it soon because “what’s the point.” Somewhere between the first 1/4 mile and the first 2 miles, though, I find the groove and “just go.”

      Until I start getting back home, and I look for that same something that let me start.

  13. I can relate. I’m in training for my first half right now.

    You definitely conjured the feelings of a runner well. I really like the part about your running sounds reverberating against quiet home fronts. Lovely.

    • When is your half? I have one coming up in 12 days. I really, really hope that this stiffness in my left hamstring is gone by then.

      Every now & then, I turn around, convinced that someone is coming up, fast, behind me (it’s not like it’s difficult to catch me as I run – I’m used to people in walkers moving past me as if I’m standing still) and realize that, no, it’s just me. It’s a really, really unique sound.

  14. Brilliant – Lol – it’s exactly why I don’t run. :) Shah .X

    • I’ll admit that it took me a really, really long time to get to the point where I could admit that I was “not hating” the feeling of a run.

      Now, of course, I’m a little bit addicted.

  15. Oh! What I GREAT idea to do a run! As a runner myself, I am jealous of your topic!

    I especially enjoyed your opening line and “I dig up something from inside.” – anyone can relate to that!

    • That first time you do that, though, when it’s just you on your own two feet, with, seemingly, nothing left, yet you find just a little bit more – doesn’t that just yield an addictive feeling of accomplishment?

  16. Perfectly conjured! It really is about finding that something inside. The legs and chest are going to ache, scream – so you can quit or you can call on the depths of your being.

    Well done!

  17. That sense of digging from within is such a satisfying feeling! Of seeing home at the end of a long run, literally and figuratively, brings such comfort.

    • It’s funny – because I was “home” at the end of this run, literally, but I was going much more figurative with my word-slinging with this – I’m just more at-ease after I’ve pushed myself past the point where it hurts.

  18. I’ve been in that place! Man, it sure feels good to push that little bit extra and then be done!

  19. Aw… the finish line. There is nothing sweeter. Great job!

  20. Oh, I forgot about that feeling at the end of a race! The elation of finally being done and the sense of accomplishment! Love it :)

  21. Okay – I have GOT to get my running shoes out again! As painful as you make the finish line sound – there is no better feeling, right?

    I ran a half marathon two years ago, then had another baby. It is time to get training for another one. This was just what I needed to read today.

    Great job!

    • Glad to motivate you – I’m running my first-ever sanctioned half in just 10 days. Just a month after that, I have another full lined up.

      Let me know when you’re back to pounding pavement!

  22. I am always jealous of runners … the stride, the concentration, that giving into to the power of your body and letting your mind take over …
    Myself, I am more a run around the block and then kick it under the bed when you are done kind of girl ;)

    • You had me at “bed” (I seriously need more sleep).

      That said, there really is something special when you change from “pushing yourself” to going on cruise control while running. It’s a feeling I never believed existed, until I experienced it.

  23. Fabulous– I could actually hear the heartbeats.

    • Thank you – though, I’ll admit that it felt more like one continuous heartbeat.

  24. The 5K is did last Saturday? This describes what I felt and thought when I saw the finish and kicked it into high gear.

    • I absolutely love that sprint to the finish . . . I remember, when my puppy (the laziest dog I’ve ever known) was young, he’d hem & haw as we walked. But, as soon as he saw home, and he knew there was food there (and the end to the stinking walk), he wanted to sprint.

      I missed you doing a 5k last Saturday – go you!

  25. I really felt the pace of the runner in this. I don’t run, but my son was on the cross country team in high school. It was always amazing to see them all find that last little bit of energy when the finish line came into view.

    • I swear there are times when I think I’m “done,” in the middle of a run, yet, when I approach the end, something else takes over. It’s been happening to me all year, yet it still amazes me every time.

      Thanks for stopping by :-)

  26. Best. Post. Ever. I love that feeling.

    When I’m hurting and want to quit or need the push to keep going, I think back to when I was first training with Team in Training and tell myself “my mom’s chemo was 100 times worse than this, the least I can do is run an extra mile.”

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