“That’s what you’re training for?” While I’m omitting explicit language and not talented enough to justly convey the fluctuating volume of my super-Italian, super-animated, and evidently super-stunned landlord, I can say his jaw hung for a brief moment after Julian and I casually dropped that we were not, in fact, training for the Olympics in August, but rather had our eyes on the CVS 5k and a half-marathon, both in the fall. I’m sure he has no disrespect for the roads and those who brave them, but he seemed distinctly disturbed that anyone would hop out the door to run 16 miles under a thick, muggy, 93 degree sun when the end reward of months of work is that race that finishes in front of the mall.

Fair point Dante, but I respectfully disagree, at least in my own case. Channeling a little David Foster Wallace circa 2005, I can’t sit here and pretend to have any inkling as to why anyone does anything, and I refuse to generalize, but I like to think I at least know why I do things [close friends may disagree]. In that vein, I’m going to challenge Dante, because I agree, my place when I cross the finish line in front of DSW – or well, anywhere – is a terrible driving force for days and weeks and years of stepping out the door. There’s far more to it.

Up until recently, running was so defined: a three season cycle, teammates, “Providence College” on the front of my singlet, big races on the calendar, time barriers in the mind – the rewards made sense. Four good college years and a fifth year to sign off, and what do we have now? Well, Dante, now we have pure running with the frills of organized athletics stripped away; in juxtaposition with the mindless tedium of the working world, running is an escape, and a damn good one too.

I’m not really sure how to best describe the feeling, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably either a runner, so on some level you get it, or you’re a friend who’s just being nice… sucker. But at this stage, the rewards of my running are in the rhythmic strikes of a long run; they’re in the energy boost I feel after 8 miles early on a Saturday morning, or the meditative, revitalizing cleansing I receive from 60 minutes of fresh air after 6 hours of staring at a computer screen.

There’s some proverb about things being about the journey, not the end result. For me, running is like that… literally. The physical journey of each run and what I go through on them can work wonders. In 8 miles my rotten mood can vanish; I can actually have more energy finishing a run than when I started. In 16 miles, on a 93 degree July day, I can soak up the sun and the sweat, the trees and people passing by, and get blissfully lost each and every time my foot hits the ground. So no, Dante, there’s no way my mind is off fantasizing about crossing the DSW line in September. There are far better reasons to open the door.