I don’t remember when I first fell in love with you. It may have been the first time I crested that hill near the open field that always seems bathed in that magical golden light. It may have been when I first forgot about intervals, so lost was I in forward motion and my legs working with my lungs working with my arms working with my heart.
Or maybe it was when I first awoke to just how far you could take me. Not just the miles, but the pride and the accomplishment and the self-discipline. I began going farther and faster and doing things people told me I could not do. I became something I never thought I’d be: a runner.
I look back on my 20’s and even my early 30’s and all the ways I attempted to soothe my soul. I wish I would have known you then. I wish I could trade those mornings going to bed at 5 a.m. for waking at 5 a.m. I wish instead of running out for a pack of smokes I would have just been running. That I could trade the late nights for early mornings; the hangovers for 5k’s; the walks of shame for runs of triumph.
Things between us have been touch-and-go lately. It takes more effort to drag these bones out on the road and even more effort to keep them there. I have put you off more and more, finding excuses that really don’t amount to much more than “I’m just too tired.” But last weekend…that long run in the sunny afternoon…that brought me back to the start. I found myself running through intervals just because it felt right to do so. I caught myself smiling for seemingly no reason at all. I found myself getting choked up when I realized that finally…finally…running felt like something I was supposed to be doing instead of something I had to do. I went for that run and found what I’d been searching for for weeks, maybe even months; I’ve lost track of time lately.
I found me. I found the me that delights in my quads pushing me uphill; my lungs handling exertion with ease; my mind thinking clearly and energetically. It was a brief moment; one run will not erase the ailments. But it did postpone them for a time.
And I fell in love with you all over again. In love enough to suffer treadmill training all week long so I can get back out there and do it again this weekend.
I will lace up my Newtons and strap on my armband; tie my kerchief and snap on my fuel belt. I will probably have to give myself a pep talk all morning long – or just look at the photos and listen to the playlist from last weekend. Doesn’t matter how it happens, just that it happens.