Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts of a Long Distance Runner: The 20 Miler

This morning, at around mile eight, we hit the Nickel Bridge. It was still early, about 8:45, and the sun had not yet burned off the dense, blizzard-like, white-out fog that was hanging above the James. My friend Liz and I descended the quarter mile or so to the base of the bridge, and the fog enveloped us. We could see no more than 10 feet in any direction yet we could hear the river slapping the rocks some 100 feet below. The air was cool, crisp, very much the type of fall morning that defines what a “fall morning” is as long as you live. To our left, the east, was the rising sun, by my guess about four fingers above the horizon. I say “guess” because there was no outline of the sun, just the suggestion of one, and it’s bright, radiating aura illuminating the mist.

I've experienced this mystical feeling fog once before in my life - it was at Mario Botta’s Angeli Chapel at the top of Monte Tamaro in Switzerland. That day, I was accompanied by my camera, so I have photographic assistance in recalling the details of that day - the spacial relationships your mind tends to forget as the memory slips farther into your past. But what I've found is that, looking at these photographs now almost five years later, they will never recreate that feeling. In fact, they almost take away from it; flattening the exhilaration I had standing there in the mist, cantilevered out over the edge of the chapel.

I thought of those photos as I ran deeper into the fog this morning, and for the first time in my life I was thankful I was camera-less. I was free of feeling I had to encapsulate the entirety of that experience in a photograph.

. . . . . .

And there we were, floating through the clouds, literally gliding across the bridge on our runner’s highs.

Liz turned to me and said, nearly breathless, “This is our church. This is why we run.”

She was right. That was the type of run that stays with you forever, the kind that reminds you of the blood pumping through your veins; the type of run that makes you feel alive.

As we reached the end of the bridge I could start to see the outline of the rocks, the trees, the shoreline start to appear - our time in this fleeting moment was drawing to a close. I used every ounce of my memory to try and etch that experience in my head; I threw my hands in the air, took a deep, deep breath, and picked up the pace. 8 down, 12 to go.

Emily Jones

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Emily is currently training for the Richmond Marathon, which will take place on Saturday, November 12, 2011.


Christie Hope said...

Just beautiful Emily..

RunHapi13 said...

Beautifully glad you have that memory!