Picture this if you will:
My alarm goes off at 4.45am this morning because I have to be up and at work at the awesomely gruesome time of 6am. I keep hitting snooze until 5.10am when I know I absolutely must get up otherwise I won’t have time to shower and do my hair. I drive into work with the music and the heater blasting, pulling into the car park to the sounds of 50 Cent’s In Da Club. Morning all.
At 7.15am I call my dad and wish him happy birthday because a) he’s the best and b) that’s the kind of daughter I am.
My eight hour shift is neither busy nor taxing (for a change) so I’m out the door at 2pm on the dot, negotiating Collins Street traffic because they’re doing bloody road works along my usual Flinders Street route. I stop off on the way home to do an errand and then fight through school pick ups until I get home, only 8km from my starting point, around an hour later. I’ve got a few more things to do so I’m busy through the afternoon and it doesn’t stop.
At 5.15pm I reluctantly turn my computer off because I have dinner at a new Italian place on Glenferrie Road and need to be there at 6pm. I’ve not showered since the morning so I do that, changing into a cool/casual outfit of black leather-ish tracksuit pants, a white singlet and a grey long sleeved top. I change my earrings twice then stuff everything I’ll need into my black Whistles pouch. I’m out the door a touch before 5.45pm as I’m really going just around the corner.
I arrive in Hawthorn and scan for a street park to no avail then head into one of the supermarket car parks. I have to move my car after I realise I’ve inadvertently parked in a half hour spot. Bugger. Then one of my friends messages me to say she’s running late thanks to a meeting in the western suburbs, which is promptly followed by a message from my other friend stating she’s almost at the restaurant. I walk up Glenferrie Road, multi-tasking and texting another friend about our upcoming weekend plans together.
My friend and I enter the restaurant almost at the same time, hug and head upstairs to grab a table. We tell the waitress we’re waiting for a third and as she pours tap water into our glasses we scan the drinks menu. My friend orders a glass of Moscato and I get a Peroni. I’ve never been much for wine. I only get about a third of the way into my drink when our latecomer arrives and we start reading the menu in earnest. One of my mates went to this very same restaurant last night after they couldn’t get into their first choice and recommends the pizza. Pizza it is.
Soon a giant plate of baked dough covered in tomato, mozzarella, rocket and prosciutto arrives and my mouth is watering. I’ve not had pizza in so long and I apologise to my friends, telling them I’m going to eschew the cutlery in favour of using my hands. We dig in, a pizza each and it’s fantastic, all the while talking and laughing and gossiping and catching up. Around 8pm the restaurant really starts to fill and we order dessert. According to the menu it’s “stressed spelled backwards”. Huh, never realised that. They get Nutella pizzas and I get the tiramisu which gets devoured at a rate of knots after arriving in front of me. I’m starting to get tired because I’ve had a drink and a giant, carb loaded meal and I’ve been awake for nearly 16 hours at that point. Did you know that being awake for over 17 hours is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%?
We say our goodbyes and I wrap myself in the giant black cashmere scarf I bought at Zara in Spain, which seemed like such an indulgence at the time but has proven to be the best staple ever. I sit in my car, waiting for the heating to kick in and stuffing around on social media. Stalking profiles, of course. Then I drive home and I don’t bother putting the music on. I sit in my driveway just enjoying the heat before reluctantly pulling myself out and going inside. By this time it’s nearly 9.15pm and I feel so so so tired.
I make a decision: I’m going to have a nap. Just a quick one. Seems like an incredibly silly idea at that time of night when I should just go to bed. I’ll take 14 minutes I tell myself, turning the heater and the electric blanket on before crawling under my doona. The alarm is set and I wake up with a start only seconds before it starts going off. Snooze. I drift off again and it’s terribly difficult to imagine rousing myself from this warm cocoon. It creeps up to 10pm.
The incredible guilt settles in. I’m thinking of all the food I just ate and how I really should be going for a run just to try and counteract some of it. The other side of my brain says it’s fine to miss a night every now and then and hey, I’ve been every single night for over a week now. One night because I’m tired and can’t be bothered shouldn’t matter. Then I think about the clothes I tried on that afternoon, things I haven’t been able to wear for about five years that suddenly fit. The only reason they fit is because I’ve battled single figure temperatures pretty much every night for just over a month to go for a run. I haven’t wanted to but even when it was raining I pulled a pair of tights and a jumper on, laced up my runners and headed out into the cold night. Post dinners, post shifts, on days off. Every night running the same lap and slowly building on it so it became longer and longer.
I hate it. I hate being in the cold. I hate how my feet feel like they are trying to glue themselves to the ground of their own accord. I hate when my legs feel simultaneously heavy and like jelly. I hate when I pull up, panting and breathing ‘smoke’ into the night air. I hate when a shitty song comes on my iPod and I have to pull everything out of whatever tiny pocket it’s been stuffed into just to change it. I hate when I run through a spiderweb that I can’t see and it’s on my face and I’m anxiously running my hands over my hair to make sure I don’t have a God damn spider on me. I hate it.
I spend the hour long lap thinking about a boy I have a slight crush on, about upcoming plans and my pending overseas trip. (OK, it’s mostly about the boy.) I sing the songs I’m listening to and sometimes dance a bit as well because it’s late at night and there’s rarely anybody else out. And I’m still tired and even though I’ve told myself I can run a reduced lap I do my whole circuit.
I run back up my drive way and it’s almost 11.15pm, a long way from that 4.45am start. I’m running through errands in my head, things that still need to be done before I can get some much needed sleep. Make tomorrow’s lunch. Pack clothes for a trip to Geelong tomorrow. Have a shower and wash my hair.
Now this is the part I love. The feeling of accomplishment that I pushed myself out the fucking door and just did it, to borrow a phrase. That gentle buzz of physical exhaustion and the comfort of feeling some of the guilt melt away. I’m good for today because I went running. Thinking about tomorrow and how I’m going to make it happen all over again.
And all the while I keep on hearing my old mate Ice Cube in my head: “Life aint a track meet, it’s a marathon.” You got it, Ice.