For reasons I couldn't quite understand, I was feeling flat. I tried to talk myself into a positive headspace. I had tackled this run before. Eleven plus miles with 3,000 feet of climbing was tough, but I had done this before not to mention the fact that I'd dealt with tougher stuff numerous times.
Almost as soon as I started running, it felt as if the wind had been taken out of my sails. I was leaden. I was breathing hard. My legs were barely turning over. The trail continued to creep upward continuously adding insult to injury. Within a mile I contemplated pulling the plug.
I managed to silence the voices of doubt briefly and make my way through the first mile and a half glacially. Fortunately, the next couple of miles were largely devoid of climbing and I was able to run with some degree of comfort (or absence of marked discomfort).
The next hill loomed in front of me. It was more than a mile long and unrelenting. I tried to rally as the trail started to creep upward, but in short order found myself reduced to walking.
Barely four miles into my journey I was confronted with the reality that today was simply not my day. I would need to cut this one short somehow or I'd find myself walking for hours.
I could have been disheartened, but it's usually folly to not listen to your body when it complains vociferously. To boot, days like this don't come along very often. It didn't matter why things weren't clicking, they just weren't.
I sought an alternate route that would get me back to the finish a few miles earlier. While the alternate route would get me home sooner, this route was not devoid of climbing.
I put my head down and power hiked for a few hundred meters not aware of where I was. I focused on the hill in front of me until I found myself gassed yet again. I stopped, bent over, took a few deep breaths, and tried to gather myself once more.
I finally managed to stand upright and was taken aback. My detour had forced me to wander to a place that was unlike any I had ever been. I had no choice but to stand and stare.
Directly across from me between two massive hills in the distance I could see the Sutro Tower. Just to the right of the tower I could see Ocean Beach covered with tiny dots.
To the left, one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge rose triumphantly above another massive hill. Still further to my left was the entirety of the East Bay.
I looked behind me and in the fuzzy distance I could see the devil's teeth, the Farallon Islands. I swore I could see the fin of a great white shark circling the islands.
A hawk glided gracefully above me lazily. Thankfully, I was too large to qualify as prey. I breathed deeply taking in what this detour had provided me.
I had been provided something special. I was witness to something few others would ever see. This unplanned detour had provided a second wind like nothing I had ever experienced.
I didn't want to leave this moment, but the day was wearing on and I had to finish the job. I slowly started walking again, took a deep breath, and found a way to run.
While I would not run the entirety of the remaining miles I had to cover, walk breaks were few and far between. The knowledge that the universe had inadvertently provided me with something that felt designed just for me put enough wind in my sails to complete things.
Thus, one of my most lackluster days of running became one of my most glorious. I run because detours can be glorious.