My eyes popped open this fine Sunday morning at 6:06. I watched the sun rise, then started stretching. Soon, I'm off for an 8-mile run around the Capitol Mall. A round-trip jaunt from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and back is 6 miles, so I'll run two miles further.
If you'd asked me to do this a few months ago, I'd have thought, "WTF?!" But I'm slowly becoming a runner, and most runners - at least those who compete in races - are total freaks.
They're Type A obsessive-compulsive. Who else would be so concerned about their running times that they buy all sorts of fancy timing gadgets to measure themselves? Or get up in the dark on a Saturday or Sunday to run 8 miles in 35 degree weather?
They can be oblivious to the world. Check out the running blogs on the left. On Election Day and the days immediately following, while most of the U.S. was either celebrating or wringing their hands in despair, not one of those bloggers mentioned the presidential election. Instead, they talked about their run that morning, how their legs felt, whether they ran hard enough, etc. Their one-track-mindedness is almost endearing.
Runners are on intimate terms with pain. They're masochists. At the Veteran's Day 10k last Sunday, I ran by two runners talking matter-of-factly about the worst blisters they'd ever popped on their feet and how copiously they bled.
Then there's my friend who blew out her knee after running three marathons in a year. She had knee surgery and hobbled around for months. Now that her cast is off and has gone through physical therapy, she plans to run one more marathon.
Last but not least, a friend's father (who threw a huge party after his 100th race) broke his foot in mile 1 of a 10-mile race. It was a trail race, and he'd stepped into a hole. He didn't quit. He was so disgusted with himself that he made himself hobble the remaining 9 miles.