For the month of August and most of July I have been religiously running nine+ miles a week. Three miles every three weeks. Lately, the mileage has increased with the confidence tagging along behind. I’m finding myself staring at end stats of distances such as 3.22, 3.34, and last night 3.45. All without pain. All without real effort. Maybe it’s time to step it up. Maybe it’s time to shut it up. It being me.
On the first day of vacation I ran on Monhegan. Six am found me staring at the ceiling thinking about the cool salt air, the foggy back trails of Cathedral Woods, the deserted roads at that time of day. Strange. My everyday self has not seen six since oh I don’t know and yet getting up for a run on Monhegan was as simple as rolling out of bed and finding something to wear on my feet.
I don’t know how far I ran. Monhegan is pretty impossible when it comes to accurate distances. I don’t know my pace because on island I run without bells and whistles. No gadgets grace my run. (Although I wear a heart monitor at home on the treadmill because I don’t recognize overexertion while running to nowhere.) Monhegan is different. Dirt roads are rutted and rocky. Trails are covered in twisted and complicated roots, swampy and mucky puddles, slick and shiny patches off moss, narrow enough for only one person to pass. Running to Black Head is like playing hopscotch on tiptoe. Daintily picking your way over sinister obstacles looking at your feet the entire time. But, it’s the silence I adore. Not a soul to bother me. No trucks on the roads. No dogs loose with dangling leashes. No gawking tourist with neck-slung binoculars and cameras. Businesses are still closed and quiet. Even the early morning air feels empty. Empty of the rumbling of trucks, screeching of small children, arguing of lost adults. All I hear is the heartbeat steady of pounding surf, the sporadic lonesome clang of the bell buoy and the occasional territorial cry of a disgruntled seagull.
This one run is what I fight for. It’s trail running where no runner should be. None of Monhegan’s paths are worn wide enough or smooth enough for a casual jog. No side by side companionship. They weren’t designed for running runners. Everyday I’m stuck on the gerbil wheel I think about trail #15, Red Ribbon trail, Underhill, the ever-daunting #1 trail that circles the entire island. Everyday I dream about picking my way over rocks and roots. Not caring about mileage or pace. Just running in the place I once ran away from.