My new coach has me running more miles, and running twice each day. I'm also back in school (for a mini-semester called Janterm) and I'm enrolled in a course that examines (and it seems, produces) short story collections. Think: Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles which is on our syllabus.
But you know, I haven't taken a 9 o'clock class since I was an undergraduate, which is to say prior to 2004. So my routine has changed dramatically. What's funny is how my body has accepted these changes-- so far-- and my immediate goal of running a fast 10k do not seem like pie-in-the-sky-impossibilities.
I wake each day in darkness-- around 6:00-6:30 or so-- in order to brew a cup of joe before I depart for my first run of the day. On days I have classes (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) these morning runs are short-- 6 miles at the most. Then I come home; I eat, shower and print out my homework for class. Class lasts until 11:45. I eat a bite and study for the window of time that remains between that and my afternoon training block. Mondays and Thursdays are when I am required to drive to Berkeley (it's not far distance-wise, but sometimes traffic can be a real pain in the ass) for a 5:30 pm speed session on the track. The other days I can run alone, or with the Saint Mary's College team if I need a more aggressive pace.
Then it's home to clean up where I do more reading and writing I didn't get done in the afternoon, dinner to prepare and consume and bed before it gets too late.
And than it begins all over again, the following day. My schedule will remain this way for four weeks.
You know, it sounds a bit crazy but I actually like it. I have to focus on the little things, each and every day. My hydration, for instance, and my diet. I have to make sure I get enough sleep, I don't get too stressed out, and that in between study sessions, I allow myself some form of meditation (I love to take a short walk across campus to see the cute feral cats. One in particular with long black and white hair is my favorite. He reminds me of a character from a Victorian novel I read once, a kind uncle who always wore an impeccable suit, though it had become frayed with years of wear.) There will be sacrifices, I know. The other night it was my birthday, and it was the same routine for me: run twice. Read, study, write. Go to bed. (Which is fine because who would want to hang out with me on my birthday anyway? I should admit, though, that my lovely professor-- she's this adorable and extremely intelligent emeritus who lives in Berkeley-- invited me to go to dinner with her. I couldn't though-- I'm much too strange. But what a nice offer!)
One of my favorite thoughts comes from French actress Isabelle Huppert who said that there are tides in life, just as there are in the ocean. Sometimes life offers you everything, and you just have to take it all in, and do as much as you can. You must do this because there will be other times--your low tides--when there is not so much to do or to produce and it's easy to get depressed. I think I'm on a low tide right now-- low, in the sense that I am relatively far from any races and my social life has all but disappeared. Low, too, because the words aren't coming very easily right now; it's a struggle to write. But it will all come round again, like the cadence of the tide. And so, it's another 80-something mile week with a track session tonight. What a life I lead! I feel so incredibly lucky, despite the lows or perhaps because of them.