I haven’t driven many sports cars in my life. Currently I have a Nissan Xterra. Before that, a Pathfinder, Hyundai Accent, and ages ago, an ’89 Ford Bronco II complete with stick shift and broken ignition. But I can remember the feeling of being behind the wheel of a car with a lot of power (always someone else’s). No matter how hard you press your foot down, there always seems to be a little bit more juice. That’s how I felt running Saturday night through the heart of Dallas. I found the perfect run.
How do you describe your perfect run?
I didn’t expect to find that elusive rhythm. Instead, I was trying to squeeze in a few miles in the middle of a quick getaway trip to see Rachel, who met me in Dallas for the weekend.
First, the weather wasn’t optimal. Cold and drizzling with a cutting wind. My brain tried to talk me out of running altogether. “You’ve put in a solid week already. You can afford to take a few days off,” it said. Because my body is on Pacific Time, my early wakeup was at 8 a.m. central, too late to run miles in the morning. By 9 p.m. central, I wanted to go to sleep after a day of Dallas adventuring (even though that was 7 p.m. to my body clock).
My inner lazy runner is weaker than it was a few months ago. I changed, laced up my shoes, and set out on the Katy trail headed north.
Even though I lived in DFW for more than four years, I’ve never run on the Katy trail. If I was running in Dallas, it was a race — typically around Whiterock Lake. Otherwise, I stuck to my Arlington and Fort Worth routes. The Katy trail was amazing, however. I love it. It slices through the Uptown neighborhood where we were staying and runs right up to the SMU campus.
My run was not special for the first four miles. But as I weaved through the Highland Park neighborhoods, with ornate Christmas lights and decorations filling the blocks, something amazing happened. I started picking up pace. We had driven around that exact area an hour before, listening to Christmas music while taking in all of the dazzling lights. Later, on foot, I was singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel” in my head, as my feet were gliding along effortlessly underneath my body.
I haven’t had a magical run like that in months. After looping through the SMU campus, I turned back south. By the time I got back to the Katy trail, I wasn’t even paying attention to my watch. If I had, I would have seen each mile’s pace creeping lower and lower.
I kept pushing my gas pedal down, and my legs kept responding. I ran 11 miles total, all but two faster than the previous, and I didn’t want to stop there. If I hadn’t promised to finish within an hour and a half, I would have kept adding on to see how long the magic would last. When I ended the workout, I felt like I was floating back to the room where we were staying.
If you’ve ever experienced a running high — endorphins and adrenaline coursing — you know exactly how I felt on Saturday night. I didn’t want it to end. But even the perfect runs have a finish line.
Sunday morning, I got up and went for a quick four-mile run down that same trail. No runners high. Instead, I had a runners hangover. My legs were sluggish, and my brain fought me every single step. The night before, each mile seemed to surprise me out of nowhere. Sunday morning, I was checking my watch every .05 of the way, hoping to see that I had somehow jumped ahead.
I’m not upset at Sunday’s run, though. Struggling through a workout or even easy mileage days make the perfect run remarkable.
When you find the perfect run, each breath will come easy, as your legs whir below. Take advantage of those moments. Keep pressing on the gas pedal.