The Kandahar Marathon: Week Twenty-Five

The Kandahar Marathon: Week Twenty-Five

“It is difficult to train for a marathon, but it is even more difficult to not be able to train for a marathon.”

~Aaron Douglas Trimble

The first half of the week was spent in Minnesota, where we retreated south to Minneapolis after spending the previous four days between Danbury and Duluth.  We went to dinner each night, catching up with people we hadn’t seen in years: an old colleague of mine from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a bridesmaid from our wedding, a friend of mine from high school and his wife. We hadn’t seen any of these people in many years, and it made us wonder why we do not more regularly frequent Minneapolis.

I wasn’t struggling not to run at first, the knowledge that my legs required rest planted firmly front of mind. We walked around a lot, touring the Mall of America, Fort Snelling, Minnehaha State Park, and other such places all with our small son and daughter in tow. When I was a child, I gauged how much my parents loved me on any particular vacation by whether or not the hotel had a pool, so naturally I ensured that ours did. Titus and Zooey don’t swim yet, but they had floaties on and I got in with them. We had a great time together, and despite not running my leg muscles were getting plenty of opportunities not to atrophy.

The news from Afghanistan this past week wasn’t good. In the aftermath of a horrible earthquake, there were gave concerns as to whether or not the Taliban would even allow aid organizations in to assist, and whether those that remain would be effective under the regime. This, of course, was news buried deep within the greater cacophony of noise coming from the media. Even Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine was drowned out by the news that the United States Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade which, for anyone unfamiliar, had until this past week protected abortion rights for women. The news of the week was hard to keep up with and made my head spin.  I knew that as much as I needed rest, I needed running even more.

Saturday, at long last, I went down to the trail to test out my legs. They were creaky, rusty, a bit dense feeling especially in the thickness of my lower quads, but also eager to move again. I got five miles in and then forced myself to stop. Sunday, after writing for a few hours, I went out and ran six more for a total of eleven miles this past week, my lowest mileage count for any week in the last four or five years of running, I would guess.  It felt good to be back on the trails, though I know my body well enough to realize that it was warning me against going too hard too quickly. And yet…

I found this week to be perhaps the most difficult one so far. Last week, I reflected on the cacophony of noise that comes not from the media but from within, and how strenuous exercise like running seems to be the only thing that can quiet it. Without the act of running to aid me, the noise soon grew to be unbearably loud. As I watched the news and doom-scrolled on social media, I struggled to find a healthy outlet to turn to in the absence of my sport. This coming week, I’ve no doubt I’ll be running a great deal more again, and equally no doubt that, judging by the state of affairs in the world around me, I’ll have a great deal of need to do so.