T.O.T.Week: running

The energy on Marathon Monday is infectious, and everyone catches the runner’s high. The smell of sweat takes its permanent hold on Boylston Street all the way to the finish line at the Boston Public Library (see – it always comes back to books!) Juice bar and protein powder pop ups are consumed by those wearing the outfit of the athletic inner circle, the bright blue and yellow track jackets. To be able to say, “I ran Boston,” is a linguistic opportunity unlike any other. Much of this is due to the marathon’s deeply storied history, and after all, this is a blog about stories. The tales of grit, energy, resilience, and pride are as pervasive as the crowds that line Heartbreak Hill.

Personally, I love the solitary nature of a run. I love its freedom and its escape. I love how running burns deep down into my lungs, gnaws at my feet, and increasingly reddens my face. I even love the runs where I may not have hit a personal best (lots of those), the runs where I had to keep pulling my leggings up because they’ve slid down and created a wedgie situation (lots of those), and even the runs where I felt like I had to pee the entire time, but was too stubborn to stop (lots of those). I have tried many a workout class, spin bike, yoga retreat… and I always go back to the run. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it totally stinks. That first mile can feel like eleven miles, and you look down at your timer and think SEVEN MINUTES? My watch is broken. I’ve been going way longer than that. I’ll tell you something though – not once, after I’ve completed a run, have I ever regretted it.

In training for my own half marathon, would it surprise anyone to learn that while most turn to trainers and pacing techniques, I turned to books for support? Folks might smile that my first introduction into Haruki Murakami was actually through his series of essays, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, depicting his late interest in distance running. In his Track series, Jason Reynolds provides an incredible through line into the life of four middle schoolers seeking solace in their accomplishments on the track against their real life difficulties. The Running Dream takes a sadder turn, as Jessica has to rebuild her running future after a difficult car accident. And in dedication to today’s marathon, I’ve included Rescue & Jessica, the real life tale of a Boston Marathon runner and her service dog.

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes (picture book)

The Track series by Jason Reynolds (middle grade stories)

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen (YA book)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (adult memoir)

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