Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach. – George Sheehan
I miss running. The pounding of my feet. My legs stretching out as my stride extends those long-forgotten muscles in my calves and thighs. My arms pumping and hands in a loose curve. The sound of the air rushing past my ears as my breath sinks into the wind. In. In. OUT. In. In. OUT. The same pattern of breathing that I’ve had since my first race sixteen years ago. Even my lungs stretch and release to new capacities in the quest for more oxygen to support my quickening movement.
I haven’t run in two years. I remember, as a young child, my friend J’s mom inviting me to run races with J. Because I’m built like a runner. I declined without knowing what I was missing and didn’t begin racing until fourteen years old. I was a varsity cross-country runner in high school and dreamt of running longer distances in college and beyond with my sites set on ultra marathons. I subscribed to Runner’s World and babied my running shoes. (Asics, baby, all the way.) But I stopped running after graduating high school, and it took me over ten years for me to join a race again.
I finally committed to train for the Ukrop’s 10K in 2008. I cried when I crossed the finish line. By finishing the race, I had tangible proof that the joy, which I had lost somewhere between early high school and my mid-twenties, was found again.
But two weeks after the 10K, I stopped. I didn’t sign up for anymore races. I’ve always been the runner who needs a goal, but I just didn’t find another race that I was willing to commit my time. And even with my love of that particular 10K race, I was pregnant with N last year. And this year, with two children under the age of four plus starting my blog and other writing endeavors, I didn’t believe that I had the time.
But yesterday running down the beach at full speed, I remembered my love of the run. And my body remembered the love of the movement. Of stretching to my limits and having my body cross my self-imposed line. An although I’ve kept so much of the joy from crossing the finish line back in 2008, I want to run again.
I need to run again.
PS. In case you think that I fell back in love with running at top speed on my own accord. Oh, motherhood. Forcing me to grow one panicked stride at a time.