With less than two weeks left to High Coast Ultra, I catch myself listening very carefully. I listen to my knee joints. I listen to the back side of my thighs. I listen to my throat.
I found myself getting very restless the other day. The weather was beautiful but I couldn't go for a run because I'm supposed to be tapering. A walk did nothing to get rid of the excess energy. My body was still but my mind was racing. I tried reading, watching TV, chatting with friends, but I only got more restless. I think that, if I could see the future and knew that I'll come out of the next 10 days healthy and whole, that I'll be able to stand on that starting line on eager legs and a clear head, I would be able to relax. But I can't. And right now, with tapering giving me a lot of running-free time to notice such things, everything is just background noise.
Have you ever stood in an empty room and thought it was quiet, only to really listen and realise it was not quiet at all? The fridge buzzed. The ventilation hummed. The traffic outside the window sang out of key. A floorboard creaked or a single drop of water left a leaky faucet to plummet all the way down to the sink.
On your computer screen, more noise. On your news feed, static. Celebrities, reality shows, diet plans and scandals are the soundtrack of our lives. The faces may change but they are all interchangeable.
It's never quiet, not even when you think it is.
When people talk about mundane things, like royal weddings and wallpaper patterns, I disconnect. I turn inwards. I examine my own thoughts. But, without running to pad the walls of this particular isolation room, the much needed silence is not there either. I listen to the sounds of a body that is trying to adjust to the shock of lower weekly mileage, trying to resist an onslaught of viruses and bacteria, trying to avoid getting injured or sick, because now is the time to get stronger, not weaker. I eat more fruits and vegetables than I usually do (and that's not even counting the vanilla in my ice cream). I try not to breathe too much in public. I wash my hands an extra 20 times per hour. Still, I worry that my worrying about getting sick and missing HCU will make me sick and miss HCU. It's a tapering-fueled, hypochondriac SOB of a vicious circle.
I want it to be quiet. I need it to be quiet.
I visualise. I dream of the time after HCU, of my next adventure, of running in the mountains where the only buzzing you hear are mosquitoes, the only humming the wind, the only singing birds, the only leaky faucet streams and rivers. My footsteps gentle on the paths, brushing against tall bushes. Raindrops on my jacket, balancing on the seams. Breathing in, breathing out, then holding your breath to allow for all the other sound waves around you to reach your ears undisturbed. Being alone with my thoughts, thoughts that don't try to predict the future, thoughts only of surviving each step that carries me towards my goal. A still mind in a moving body.
Solitude. Silence. Simplicity. Stillness in motion.