On Thursday, I was at a store that sold the same brand of unpasteurized coconut water — Exotic Superfoods — that I drank heavily while training for the marathon last summer and fall. It had been awhile since I was in a store that sold this brand, so I bought a couple bottles. When I took my first sip, it brought me right back to my training. I felt like I was still in that time; I felt like I just finished running 18 miles.
It was a really weird sensation. We’re all used to hearing a song and being brought back to a specific moment or time, but I had no idea a sip of coconut water would have the same effect. It was eerie in a way, and it made me actually miss that time I was training for a marathon.
My back hurt last week, so I’ve been resting. Since I’m feeling a lot better now, I wanted to exercise again but didn’t want to jump into anything that would require using my back muscles. Luckily, the weather was not below freezing this morning so I decided to go out for my first run — since November.
I only ran once after completing my marathon. It was probably two weeks after the race, in late November. The run sucked for a number of reasons — I felt extremely dehydrated and I forgot to bring my water bottle. I had to leave the park in search of water. My body was also clearly in need of a break from running after two marathon attempts in a row. And while I was happy to finish the eight miles I set out for that day, I also knew it was time for a break. Luckily, this coincided with winter. I am not a fan of winter running.
But today was the perfect time to run again! I didn’t have to go crazy with the layers and over the last few weeks, I’ve been really missing running. Deeply. Also, I signed up for a 10K race in April.
I thought it would feel strange, unnatural, to run again. I don’t know why. Last year, after a much longer break, I jumped back in easily. But this time, I thought my legs would forget what to do and it would just feel hard. It didn’t. I thought I would lose my speed. I didn’t.
As soon as I started going, I felt comfortable. And even though I ran for a long time before ever training for a marathon, everything about this morning — from going to the far opposite corner from my apartment to get a Garmin signal, to running to the park and up and down the streets, to finishing near my apartment and picking up a coffee to sip as I got ready for work — it all brought me back to my training. I even considered getting an iced coffee after, which I often did after my morning training runs. But it was about 85 degrees at the time, so I stuck to hot today.
The run didn’t feel strange, but the memories of the months I spent training for the marathon did. I felt like I was in two places at once — September, 2011 and February, 2012. Or like I was two different mes. Or like I was watching a much more naive version of myself, only instead of watching her, I was being her.
I’m sure that as I start running again I’ll feel more in the present, especially as I start training for races. For now, I kind of like how running is bringing me right back.