Monday, September 14, 2015

Running Naked - No Headphones

Meh, I've run better.
The chief obstacle of long-distance running, for long-distance runners, isn’t the distance, but the general boredom.  Once you’ve run one majestic, beautiful natural skyscape or urban wonderland, you’ve pretty much run them all.  The desert, the forest, the amber waves of grain—it becomes redundant as you rack up the miles (or kilometers, if you like to measure things the hard way).

During college, and competitive NCAA cross-country, I’d run in a group—mostly, the fast women on our team—which would help wile away the hours.  If nothing else, we were all suffering together.  After I graduated college running behind, I began to wear headphones of one kind or another.  I strapped a gramophone onto my back, then moved to the player piano, 8-track, Walkman portable cassette deck, and finally an iPod shuffle/nano.

Take the cobbled street to the cobbled street and then
run down the cobbled street to the cobbled street . . .
Today, I ran without any headphones, music or podcasts whatsoever.  My nano died, and I’m angry with my shuffle because Apple has made it incredibly hard to download an entire podcast series with any degree of ease.  Without the headphones, I was immediately reminded of the Malta race I competed in nearly two years ago.  I usually run races with something in my ears, but in Malta I’d just arrived the night before, barely slept because of the time difference, the bed, the odd conditions, etc., and couldn’t be bothered to dig out my iPod.

Malta is a fun place to run (history, architecture, exotic locale), but not a friendly one.  My
Not ANOTHER boring bit
of Malta scenery. *sigh*
Maltese friends (who were friendly), believed me to be insane for running in general, let alone a race the day after travelling 15+ hours, had picked up my race packet which DID NOT include safety pins for the bib.  The race course was mostly open, so it was hard to find the start line, which did not have a registration table nearby at all.  I asked a couple of fellow runners—normally a group that commiserates like the best of dysfunctional families, and thus is always happy to help—and was mostly laughed at or given a few angry glares.

In the end, I ran with the bib folded up in my pocket, and I pulled it out to show at the finish line.  The run itself was fun, taking me through a cityscape that is (or looks) several hundred years old.  I’m pretty certain we passed no fewer than six churches.  Malta is something like 98% Catholic and 101% Super Catholic.  Some of the roads were incredibly clogged with very small cars and drivers all angry and yelling at each other.

Fun, but not friendly.

I hope my Malta friends are all doing well.  Drop me a line, folks!

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