Friday, June 3, 2011

The Jogging Chronicles

My brain yells at me a lot. Loudly, and if my brain had a finger, it would wag it at me with impunity.

Even when my iPod is cranked to the highest volume setting, I can still hear my brain shouting orders at my like a drill sergeant. A squishy, fat-filled, grey, wrinkly drill sergeant. But nicer, really. More encouraging than a drill sergeant. My brain is more Billy Blanks than Lou Gossett, Jr. My brain has never required me to drop and give it 20.

I think weird thoughts when I'm running. Mostly, I think about what I'm going to eat for dinner. I find that I think about food a lot while I'm either running or in spinning class. My food fantasy life is very rich and fanciful. There are so many things I would love to do with macaroni and cheese, and all of them involve jalapenos and toasted bread crumbs.

When I'm not indulging my food imaginings, Brain Billy Blanks comes out and starts barking orders and telling me to suck it up and ignore that giant brick wall that I'm hurdling toward. "Keep your legs moving, come ON!! Like pistons! You're a well-oiled machine! Don't you quit on me, Harris!" Lactic acid starts to build up in the backs of my legs, toward the bottom of my calves, always in the same spot, and it's so excruciating that I want to cry, and here comes Brain Billy again, screaming, "It's an illusion! Someone else's legs hurt, but not yours! Separate yourself! Go go GO!"

And then something weird happens. I look at the horizon, which is solid and unwavering. Even though I know I'm moving, everything else is not. Everything is frozen, still, encapsulated in a moment where time as ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. Suddenly, I realize that I've been slightly hunched over, which is doing nothing for conserving my energy. My arms have been flopping, too, so I straighten up and calm down my upper body, and my legs just keep pumping and pumping forward, and then I'm floating. I can hear my breath and nothing else. Infinities pass between each inhalation. Galaxies are birthed and burn and die before I exhale. I don't how fast I'm moving, even though I know it's not very. I don't know what time it is or what day it is or my birthday or my eye color. My iPod is still playing, but what? I couldn't pick it out in a line up. This goes on for a while.

Until it stops.

Like an elevator in freefall that suddenly crashes onto the bottom floor, everything slams back down into place and starts moving again. My iPod is way too loud. The backs of my legs become flooded with lactic acid again, and I'm slogging through molasses with hip waders on while wearing a cargo vest filled with D batteries. Brain Billy is back, though, singing a familiar ditty: "Harris! Where were you? Daydreaming about ponies and rainbows and ice cream sundaes? Play time is OVER! It's grown-up time now, bitch!!"

Did Brain Billy just call me a bitch? That's too far. Brain Billy rarely resorts to expletives. I must be getting close to home.

Brain Billy isn't even trying anymore. All he's saying is "COME ON COME ON COME ON RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN...", screaming it into my ear so close I can feel his hot, mean breath on my cheek, repeating it over and over again in time to my footsteps. I'm not thinking about food anymore, and all of the various dipping sauces I'd like to be enjoying with my French fries. Now, I'm thinking about vomit. Lots and lots of vomit. Coming out of me and slopping on to the ground, and I wonder if I'll slip and fall into it. At least then I could stop running.

And then I'm in front of my porch. Just like that. I feel horrible, like someone caned the backs of my legs, and I'm shocked blood isn't pooling into my shoes. It's hard to stop moving from all the inertia. But I eventually do, and I stretch the backs of my legs which feels SO GOOD in ways I'm not sure I can talk about in mixed company.

Brain Billy says, "Stop messing around with these girly stretches. Put down your giant lolli-pop and pinwheel and get moving."

I follow orders and go around again, just one more time.