As I was hitting the finishing chute in the 5K,I didn’t feel this massive surge of energy propelling me to the line, but I felt more amazement than anything. I topped my projected time by nearly a minute, but that wasn’t the biggest thing. Panting after hitting the line, I grabbed my medal for finishing, walked over to the boardwalk railing, and tried to hold back tears. The sense of accomplishment was nearly overwhelming. The work of preparing to do something out of the ordinary was daunting–the physical of having to run three times a week and eating smartly to prepare the body, the mental in pushing past pain, wondering why I’m doing this. I did it to see if I could it–set a goal, do the work to prepare, then actually achieve it.
And I was heading to the line, I played a game with myself. Let’s have a thought experiment: just run. Don’t worry about the time, or the people passing you. Pay attention to you–how you’re running, your steps, your breath, the sweat pouring down. If you need to walk, walk. When you’re ready to run, run. I tried to meditate while I ran. We often think of meditation as only sitting still, when it’s also simply paying attention to yourself and what is happening within you.
The warrior meditates only when he is performing his duty. As soon as he puts aside his sword, he relaxes his attention. Suzuki Shosan, “Warrior of Zen”
I tried to be there at the run, and nowhere else. It’s a lesson I need to extend elsewhere in life. In anything, from folding laundry to sex, you and your attention have to be there. Your clothes and your partner will thank you.
While I was training for this run, I compiled a playlist to get me through–Living Colour, Pat Benatar, AC/DC, a lot of uptempo dance music. So as I was walking to the starting line, what song was in my head? Stravinsky’s “Pastorale,” a beautiful piece of music–and not exactly pulsating work. But my brain knew what it was doing: calming me for the run in the sun.