Monday, July 14, 2014

Evolution of a Runner

I was never athletic. I think I have blogged before that the only way I would run in my twenties is if something was chasing me or there was a dessert in front of me. I didn't really discover running until a bad breakup. When I discovered it, every initial footfall was anger. Pounding down. Pure anger and hurt, one stride after the other until my body screamed. I discovered if my body ached, I forgot that my heart hurt. This went on for a while until running ceased to be out of anger and started to feel more like love. I remember when running became something I looked forward to, when I started to love the hardness of my hamstrings and how my shadow looked, stretched out on the trail. Running became meditation. Instead of replaying hurts, running became about my breathing in and out. The wind blowing over the tops of the wildflowers. Slowing for deer crossing and sidestepping snakes without losing a beat. The songs in my ears. The sun moving towards the mountains.

Old Faithful, the trail I can run with my eyes closed...

And then I stopped. Life. Complacency. Another shitty relationship (I know. I know. Life lessons, trust me). A hamstring injury that hurt worse than childbirth and impacted wisdom teeth. Death of a loved one. Loss. Ankle injury. More loss. And instead of running to get through it, I quit running. Just quit.

When I bought my house, I was once again smack dab in the mountains. I started running again, because they were right there. Again, a little bit out of anger and hurt and leftover loss. But mostly because I knew that every time I tightened my laces and pulled my hair into a ponytail, I was running towards freedom. Every stride was therapy, healing what had been broken.

This Zen moment, interrupted by knowledge that one should not down Ginger Kombucha before a run.

And now, I run. I run almost every day. I think about what I eat, if it is going to affect a late run. I plot out hills versus flat, three miles or seven miles. I watch the skies carefully, trying to time what I can run before the heavens open up with summer storms. I dodge friends asking to run together, because it is almost like praying together. Cool for others, but not my thing. I run alone. I look at where I am traveling to see if I can run. Some days, I purposefully run slow, so I can simply be. Other days, I do intervals until I feel like my lungs are going to collapse. Some days I get caught in the storm,and learn that hail actually hurts worse if you run fast. (There's another life lesson, getting caught in the storm). Sometimes, the only sound is my breathing, or my feet hitting the ground. Other times, the Ting Tings get me up the steepest hill.

Summer storms, teaching me both patience and speed. 

Running saved me. Pure and simple. Every time I pull on my shoes,  I remember this.  And I run a little further, just because I can.

Peace and love and sweat and long strides, buttercups. XOXO

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