This is me, charting and mapping my virtual run adventures, from the corner near my house and across the vastness of my own beautiful country and towards my grandfather’s first step in Canada — a Heritage Race before I hit 40 — these are the klicks I might have run had they been strung end-to-end from my 37th birthday until the day I hit 40. Brought to you by the magic of obsessive personal metrics, a fancy GPS watch, and the number 21. Stay tuned.
It’s Boston Marathon day, and I’m definitely not in Boston. But I am obsessively refreshing the splits tracker for a couple folks that I am watching from far, far away as they breeze through that epic race.
When one sets out to pursue any goal, whether to qualify for the elite awesomeness of running with a coveted Boston bib, or just on a quixotic quest to run across the virtual distance of a massive continent, there is a sense of the time and scale and proportion of the effort that all at once seems trivial and monumental, a fluttering of perspective that changes with time and space and mind and viewpoint.
On this particular day my own quixotic quest brings me to the completely arbitrary distance of one thousand, nine-hundred and forty-three virtual klicks from my front door on this otherwise uneventful morning. Where is that? Running, of all directions, south on the Trans Canada Highway, about to fleetly scoot past Thunder Bay, Ontario. I say virtual only because I’m nowhere near Thunder Bay. I don’t think I’ve actually ever been to Thunder Bay. I have no idea when I may, if ever, go to Thunder Bay. But I’ve with-plodding-care run every single one of those 1943 klicks over the last year and a few months, fighting through injury and moderate burnout, staving off the heat of summer, the winds of fall, the bite of icy winter, and the pain of muscle betrayal.
Yet here I am, still achy from a sixteen klick Sunday run a day ago and planning another four or five easy klicks after work. I’m in the middle of something big, unable to see back to the start, but still so far from the end of it all.
I’m behind schedule, yes. But somehow, no one cares but me and then not even really me. I’m just tracking for the sake of tracking…. hoping to mark out something worthwhile in this random effort. I’m still plodding, tracking out virtual steps across the vastness of this massive country towards my arbitrary milestone of meaningful accomplishment. That’s what really counts, right?