Some days running is something I look forward to, even need, as an element of my day. Other days, like today, I have to fore myself out the door to do what I know I will later regret if I don’t! Early morning, before the sun was high, yet already humid, heat coming on. Still tired. Should have had a third coffee. Sick of the same old route: Reade parking lot, down 3rd Street, over to 2nd, left on Washington, climb 8th Street, loop around campus–5 miles. Mix it up–go down 600 for an out and back.
Still hard: my heels feel the shock of every foot fall–gotta do some treadmill time, UA shoes with more support next time or I’m going to injure myself. I can hear the heaving of my breath even over my ipod songs. I hate that; it just makes me more tired. This run will seem interminable unless I can change my attitude. What’s good? What’s good? my feet slap in time to the internal question.
I’m 54 and I can still do this. Twenty years this year, and I’m running more consistently and even faster than I could at age 34. I’m glad I can. My barely older sister would love to be able to do this, but neuromas and chronic plantar fasciitis make it impossible. She pushes through pain and ugly shoes just to walk. I can run, I can run, my feet move to the rhythm.
My mom, in her late years, so disabled by scoliosis, osteoporosis, missing toes on one foot, having trouble accepting this new normal, drastically decreased mobility. Running keeps me strong, each weight bearing stride a refusal of porous bones, weak heart, atrophied muscles. Keep on moving, keep on moving, my shoes shout on the blacktop.
What a miracle movement is: it’s automatic, it’s instinct, no thought goes into this leg moving forward, pushing off, the other leg already on its way to step in front of the other. Hips cranking, knees bending, ankles flexing, quads firing, feet taking hundreds of pounds of pressure with each step, and nothing falters. Thousands of steps in every run in rapid succession, and never once must I consciously will any body part to contribute to the motion. Moving forward, moving faster, get the rhythm, keep it going.
Now my mind strangely separates itself from my moving body and marvels at the fluidity of thoughtless progress. The blacktop appears in dark swatches between my strides, then switches to the paler grey of sidewalk. My mind still detached, my run is now all disembodied sensation: sweat drizzling down my back, breath heaving, the tang of salt on my lips, the swish of fabric at my hips, the solid thumping of my soles on pavement. Despite the gathering heat of the rising sun and the tightening muscles of my legs, I am moving faster, more effortlessly, as I pump up the final slope into the parking lot where I began. My mind slides back into my skull as my pace slows to a walk. Done.
With hands on my knees, panting for air, quads shaking, I wonder why everyone doesn’t do this.