I ran 6 miles today after a long layoff from running. Mile 2 felt like mile 26.2. My cramps, heavy breathing, and aching knees constricted me in such a way that I wondered if I would truly get back into stride with my old form. Throughout the run I was keenly aware of the time I had been away from the road and the reality that while I'm only 28, perhaps my best running was behind me. Like my stride, I lost track of my pace and how long it took me to run a trail I had completed 30 times previously. The psychological effects of not knowing if I'd be able to finish started to drain my spirits. Just as I began with the long list of regrets I had about running, my stride came back. I had a bounce in my step to go along with a release of pain from my knees and a cramp in my side. I cruised around a bend on the way back that I dreaded on the initial push and began to feel the rush of endorphins going through my body. At last, the run was beginning to feel refreshing. I was outside enjoying the 70 degree weather with the knowledge that with enough repitition I could run the way I had always been able to.
Earlier in the day I started my SF-86 which for those not in the military is a security clearance reinvestigation form. For this renewal, I had to go back 10 years for all of my contacts who had known me back "then." As I looked at my previous SF-86 that I had filled out year prior, I began to wonder what happened to all of my old friends who I had felt worthy enough to put as contacts back then, but had no idea about their whereabouts now. Just like running, I suppose they will creep back into my life sooner or later. My 10 year high school reunion will be around Thanksgiving of this year. Although I'll be in Afghanistan, my thoughts will be in Laconia, NH. It's an odd feeling looking back and trying to reclaim the parts of oneself that were so poignant in one's memory. Yet, there is a satisfaction in knowing that those memories are always right there with us, even when we're huffing and puffing along a dirt filled road or huddled around a campfire telling stories with close friends. The next 10 years isn't that far away. Come to think of it, neither is the next 26.2.