One of my favorite things to do at seven years old was round-off flip flops in the back yard. Hours were chewed up whole in the run, run, run, hands hitting the ground, then legs, then my whole body vaulting backwards. Bounce up. Run back to the start. Repeat. I rarely (if ever) added new tricks. Mastery was the point, I think now, but back then it was just about doing it beautifully.
Six months later, I moved onto learning the Greek alphabet. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta… Then, reaching twelve perfect games in Jacks.(Remember Jacks? The little rubber balls, the deadly metal jacks that would get you a good spanking if you left them out on the floor where your father would invariably step on them, the drawstring bag you made with your mother that was supposed to keep them all off the floor when you weren’t playing with them?) For many, many months I sat splayed on the terrazzo tile floor, a rectangular carpet remnant under my behind, tossing a pink rubber ball into the air and scooping up one jack at a time, then two, and so on, until all six were swiped off the floor at the same time. Game over, but time to move to the next level. Think video game but with actual dangerous metal projectiles. This wasn’t just a game, it was a quest.
In between Jacks, Greek words and gymnastics, came the summers trying to perfect the front one-and-a-half off the diving board. A long cotton t-shirt over my bathing suit was the ’70s version of a sun shirt, used, not for sun protection, but belly flop protection. Perfecting a one-and-a-half necessitates a lot of belly (and back) landing, you know. Again, rarely were new tricks tried. At least not by me.
This morning during my early run with friends, talk turned to upcoming races (doesn’t it always?). Names were thrown around. Courses discussed. I listened, offering up my two cents when it mattered (and even when it didn’t). Every time a new race was brought up, I paused, caught in that moment of “I want to do that” excitement that I always feel. My mind moved like a roller coaster through what the course probably looks like, what it would feel like to run it. It’s exhilarating for a moment, the imagined running of trails on mountains, being “out there”, climbing and descending.
But because I’m me, because I like repetition and doing something over and over again until I don’t want to do it anymore, I’ve signed up for 6 Days at the Fair. Somewhere during my winter break/mental health vacation, I made peace with loop running, but decided I just can’t bear another 24 Hour race (at least for now). So, of course, the answer is to do MORE. I really enjoyed the 72 Hour race at Across the Years, but with both kids away now, I thought I would take advantage of having the time to run as much I want. And come on, running around a one mile loop for six days?! OCD nirvana!
This doesn’t mean I’m not still running trails sometimes, or avoiding hill/mountain runs. I do love dirt and going up and down. But what I really love is doing something again and again until I feel complete. Satisfied. And I’m not quite there, yet.