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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

One of the first frightening images to shake me to my very bones were the undulating, wretched, and grotesque motions of the mindless corpses from the original Night of the Living Dead dragging their pathetic decaying bodies across my screen. I remember staying up way past my scheduled time for sleep to sneak a peak at Tales from the Crypt and other various scaries and boogies that go bump in the television when mom and pops are asleep. The zoned out countenances of the living dead stayed with me for a couple years, yes, deep in the recesses of my mind I knew such a hellish being didn't exist. However, all matters of nature and logic I haphazardly threw out the window and I pulled at the strings of truth and sanity, did hell run out of room and allow the dead to wander the earth? Come to find out, no. But the boundless imagination of a young boy can be tricked into believing anything for a period of time, even through the power of cheap B-grade cinematic horror.

The whole mythology of the zombie returned to me last Sunday morning while running; I was about 10 miles into my 16 mile run when for a split second the activity I was engaged in escaped my mind. The steady release of endorphins, the relentlessly intense focus on the trail ahead, and the tremendous amount of exerted effort to make strategic foot placements amongst the gnarled heaps of sand and stone had quickly sent my mind into an enchanted state of "zombieism". Unlike the late night TV glow induced fears of my childhood, this zombie experience was quite welcomed, I had slipped into a serious groove, where the effort exerted was not perceived as it should have been. I was getting tired and ready to stop running physically, however my mind was quite satisfied with the current situation. Unfortunately this is not a regular occurrence, most of the time I'm convincing myself to "keep moving, don't stop", the incessant dialogue of an endurance participant. When I became aware of what was taking place, I managed to gain composure and perhaps consciousness and finish out the last 6 miles with a smile on my face as usual, for running always brings out this in me, I often throw my hands up with a thankful heart; suffer the joy.

The profundity of my "zombie" like behavior was that which is typically a steady laborious undertaking had for a moment become quite simple and effortless. Mind you all the symptoms of the Pain Cave were present; I was still soaked in sweat like a tripped out ruffian on the downside of a massive high, my calves/quads were pulsating with lactic acid and my lungs were working at capacity as I ascended the increasingly steep hill ahead. Was the momentary simplicity and effortless act of running simply a lapse in reality? When was the last time I became so completely absorbed in an activity where the mind persevered over the body? The only increasingly distant memory is the the marathon printing session I ran in the NMSU darkroom for 24 hours straight, however I have to credit my success at that feat to the abundance of harmful chemistry, a steady diet of diluted developer and fix, my crew member Maren supplying Chicken Express #1 and coffee, and the steady drone of Broken Social Scene playing in the background on loop.

The point I make, which is a long time coming, is that I want more zombie experiences in this life, where the body simply does what is asked of it without strain or without effort, where the mind says "Everything is all good". The act of being so absorbed in what you are doing to the point of effortlessness and pure simplicity is a sensation that rivals any. I imagine talented musicians experience this every time they are wrapped up in the intricacies of a song; dashing their eyes across the lines of music, triggering impulses in their fingers to the corresponding keys on a piano or guitar, emitting pleasantries to the ears of those in attendance. We see and hear pure harmony. Or perhaps the painter whose strokes come without bridled thought or hesitation, what a sensation that must be. Running is this way for some, I'm far from that group of individuals. Although as I wake up in the morning and throw on my trail shoes and take those first steps out onto the desert I look forward with anticipation for more zombie runner moments however brief and fleeting they may be.


  1. Great post man, there is so much I want to comment on that I dont know where to start. So I will simply go with "Yeah!" to zombies and broken social scene.

  2. Oh I know the zombie moments all to well. They got me through the day on the PCT were there seemed to be nobody around. Little bubbles of thought float into the mind only to be popped by the horrid sound of a rattle snake about to be steped on.