James Joyce is stream of consciousness writing. This agrees with some, annoys many. As a lapsed English Major, I remember well the thoughtful seduction of Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Getting lost in thoughts, my own mind wandering, rereading passages only to get lost again. If you haven’t guessed yet, it agrees with me. There’s a lot of repetition, recurring thoughts layered on recurring thoughts, getting lost in your mind, working it out. Sounds a little like running, right? I think so. Especially the repetition of thought, like the little mantras we say to ourselves when the miles get tough, working it out, finding that point of exhaustion.
Peter brought the James Joyce Ramble to my attention years ago and have wanted to run it since then. On Saturday on my way to work for a few hours, I stopped by and signed up having only decided to run the day before. Apparently there had been a sudden late surge of people registering in the wake of the marathon bombings. I like a motivated crowd.
Katie and I headed out after bagels and coffee to the Endicott Estate in Dedham. A beautiful property with sloping lawns and columned verandas. It was a perfect spring day, touching 60 and headed for 70, and if there had been water instead of a sea of runners, would have felt like I was home on the lawn of the yacht club. It’s a comfortable feeling. I warmed up, briefly met up with fellow RaceMenu teammate Matt, and then headed to the start before the 11:00 gun time (and by gun, I mean gong, which was preceded by the most dramatic rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I’ve ever heard sung by an ex-state trooper. This is an eccentric race). The US Track and Field Masters Championship was also on the course, they went first, and 3 minutes later we took off. I wanted to hold back, learn that pacing I so desperately want to learn, so I just let my legs go at a comfortable pace. Comfortable translated into a 6:12 mile. It was going to be one of those days. The course was tough, but beautiful. Lots of turns to keep your mind from focusing on distance, but also lots of hills. I am not a great hill runner, up or down, and this course hit my weaknesses hard. During the leg that went through Noble and Greenough School, I ran a morbidly slow 7:19. I settled in to where I wanted to be by mile 4 and hovered around 7’s for the rest of the race. Along the course there were actors in costume reading from Joyce works – one problem though, you couldn’t hear a thing they were saying. There was one guy reading from The Dead under a bridge about a mile from the finish. He was pretty much mumbling to himself, almost like he was studying at a library and a race happened to be mournfully distracting him. I wanted to say “Dude, I’m out of breath and could be more vocal” But, I was out of breath, so I didn’t. I finished, did my prerequisite dry heave that caught the attention of a medic, and I told him this was a normal ritual. Saw Matt after where we both said that damn, that was harder than we thought it was going to be. I cooled down under a tree with Katie before we headed over to Deep Ellum for some beer and burgers. I spent the rest of my day lazily cleaning my apartment and reading on my balcony. What a great Sunday.
Official Time — 43:02.