Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Swimmer

Week-end total: 31.25 miles

Distance: 19 and 1 quarter miles
Duration: roughly 3 hours and fifteen minutes
Meal: mac & cheese
Stretches: yes
Drink: yes
Time: 2.30pm
Weather: cool and windy

The Swimmer by John Cheever
"The Swimmer" is a masterpiece of mystery, language and sorrow. It starts out, on a perfect summer morning, as the record of a splendid exploit -- Neddy Merrill's quest to swim the eight miles from the house of his friends, the Westerhazys, to his own, via the swimming pools of fashionable Shady Hill -- and ends up as a kind of ghost story, with night and autumn coming on, in a thunderstorm, at the door to a haunted house ... (more) - Michael Chabon, Salon

Okay, it wasn't as bad as that. First off, it started with it threatening to rain, became a bit sunny, and then got cloudy again. And my family was waiting for me at the other end, the house wasn't empty. And I am not an alcoholic.

I am disappointed, going back to measure my route, that I did not go the full twenty. But I exceeded 18, and was much less the worse for it than I was two weeks ago. I feel good right now.

Gummi bears do not suffice anymore, pure sugar will not push me over the edge. There were several water breaks - I even walked into the Rock Hall lobby to pee and drink (I didn not get them mixed up) but by the time I reached Edgewater, I was missing something. Probably salt, anything - protein, complex carbs. I started feeling empty.

Prior to that, at around West 60th, this guy waiting for the bus said to me, "Only five more miles, man, you can do it. Five miles, good work!" That was really cool.

I was feeling not as pathetic as I had last time when I wasin the homestretch, but I did feel weak and was obsessing about water and food and rest. And then I thought - what if I run faster? I had slowed down to this little trot, and so I picked it up, I figured I had nothing to lose. It worked for about three minutes.

Now I'm thinking about Jack London's To Build a Fire. Every story I had to read in high school seems to related to my predicament today.

Arriving at my parents house, I drank water, my wife got me some pineapple juice with salty in it - it tasted like Gatorade! So that's how they make that! I took a mitful of corn chips with me as my father and I took a brisk walk around the block which was very painful. He's seventy-one but he still walks too fast. Probably just what I needed.

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