Here’s the scene.
It’s nearing 9am, and the three of us are in the seventh mile of a ten mile run, keeping a 7:50 pace, and plunging into a bitter headwind in a rain storm. In the beginning we had run astride, talking about our weeks, upcoming races, and how our training is going, but by the sixth mile we had spaced out and fell into silent determination. The sky is a palette of churning milky grays that seems to stretch out forever. To our left is a vast, nearly barren corn field, dry yellow stalks hissing in the rain, and somewhere in the endless distance, there is a tall blue water tower that doesn’t seem to ever get any closer to us. Soon enough, we’ll be rounding the bend and heading back towards the campground where we had parked, standing around soaked and laughing by our cars, nodding to the pack of male runners that came in before us, shedding down to sports bras in our cars, and heading back into the driving wind on the highway. But for now, there is only this strange scenery, this uncanny painting we are moving through, so endless and unchanging that we hardly seem to move within it, rather experience it with every sense we know of, and by some broader, awe-struck timeless sense we don’t have any name for – something much more elusive.