Friday, April 29, 2011

Defying gravity

In the past two weeks, I've kicked up my running a notch from long runs at a mellow pace to speed work at Kezar Stadium.  As I posted previously, sprinting made me unreasonably happy--giggly-happy--and that was surprising.  While I often felt that way on my bike when I was racing, I didn't think I'd feel that way on my feet.

I remember how I felt when my bike was an extension of my body, when riding was more comfortable than walking, when flying down a mountain descent or around the corner of a track in a full sprint felt perfectly right and perfectly terrifying in the same moment.  Sprinting out of a turn on a precipitous descent is one of the very best feelings I've ever had, as if body and bike were both following my command, and that order said SPEED.  Just go faster!  And that is all.

Why was speed, albeit sometimes death-defying, so alluring?  Perhaps because I have never felt so completely alive.  All energy, all focus has to be concentrated right there, right then, to maintain any control.  That kind of speed defies the siren song of gravity, but it also allows you, just for a second, to brush the face of God.

Sprinting on my feet, of course, doesn't involve the same death-defying thrill.  It's also unlikely to land me in the emergency room--a feat that cycling actually accomplished.  So why is it so reminiscent?  I think it's two things.  First, the entire concentration in the moment.  While you're sprinting, you don't have a family, or a job, or really any responsibilities.  Much as my complicated life grounds me in this world--and as thankful as I am for all that I have--sometimes I want to defy its gravity.  So I run, fast--not by objective standards, but in my frame of reference, it's as much speed as I can get.  I take it and ask for more.

And then, there is play.  How often do we adult professionals get to just play?  Almost never, I'll bet.  But don't you feel invigorated when you do?  My 4-year-old daughters play tag, and chase, and they race each other.  Can't I do that every once in a while, and collapse in breathless giggles after? I'm not sure what my running companions would do, but I might try it, just to see.

And sometimes it just feels good to run, as if gravity and time and weight were nothing.

It's time to try defying gravity
I think I'll try defying gravity

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