"A Close Call"
Jack Gilbert

Dusk and the sea is thus and so. The cat
from two fields away crossing through the grapes.
It is so quiet I can hear the air
in the canebrake. The blond wheat darkens.
The glaze is gone from the bay and the heat lets go.
They have not lit the lamp at the other farm yet
and all at once I feel lonely. What a surprise.
But the air stills, the heat comes back
and I think I am all right again.

It feels like every year I feel less sure about things, myself, life – and every year I let go of something that used to anchor me but in which I've lost faith, now. Or because I feel fine, I feel fine all the time, I'm okay, but I'm starting to think that my standards for fine drop every year, without my noticing. Or that I used to be more than fine, to not settle for just that.

Today, I went on the Great Lake Walk, a 56 km run/walk (though apparently we took a detour that made it 59 km) around Lake Cowichan up-island. It was – a singular experience, and the gratifying thing is that I am relatively satisfied with my performance, despite taking four hours longer than I anticipated (though my anticipation of eight hours was ridiculously naive, and based on my running speed for the first 20 km, which was obviously not accurate for the rest of the 36 km.) I ran 17 km straight, which is more than twice as long as the longest I did before, and I finished the bloody ultramarathon, even though I was this close to giving up at the last 5 km because every time my feet made contact with the ground (which is necessary for walking, yes) there was this stabbing pain up my legs, and I was on the verge of tears towards the last 3 km, which made me feel a little retarded, because c'mon!!! It's just physical exertion. But I was in constant pain for the last 15 km (it didn't help that I'd been sick the past week and had Ukrainian Dance, this fiendish activity, which left me with sore calves during the walk), and it was a toss-up between continuing and stopping, because finishing 45 or 48 km was significant enough and I didn't really attach significance to Finishing The Great Lake Walk, but everytime someone asked if I was fine or needed a right my default answer was YES :D no I can make it!! because I am by default polite to strangers and for Asians, being polite means smiling and denying any discomfort. But two of my co-years came by the last 2.5 km and walked me back to finish line. It wasn't a spectacular sense of achievement, reaching the finish line, because I'd already accomplish what I wanted to – but it was still the optimum end. I mostly walked/ran alone, which was surprisingly great – running was actually amazing, because my calves were so sore and I'd power-walked the first 6 km, and it was dark (we began at 5 am) and I got in my running zone and stayed there for the next 15 km. After that, I went back to walking (in retrospect, I started running way too early for my endurance, because I couldn't run anymore after that, and I think it made my walking a lot worse for the last half), and at some point, I gave up on achieving my competitive time of eight hours and was just chilling, taking a nice stroll through the woods and singing along to my iPod. It actually felt great, like a holiday or leisurely ambling of sorts. It was just the last 15 km where walking started to hurt and I went through the longest 4 km, 3 km and 2 km stretches of my life. But it honestly didn't feel that long, except for the end. I don't like training with people – they distract me, for the most part, unless I'm absolutely in a state of collapse, which I was the last 5 km – felt faint, would have fallen and not gotten up if I'd stumbled, blurry vision, a little. I was pretty good company for myself for the most part, I think. This worries me, on principle alone ):


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