Running Because

I like running;  but I don’t love running.  I previously ran to burn the endless energy my body created like a runaway generator.  I ran to convert stress into sweat and pain.  I ran because it felt good to be one second faster today than yesterday.  But that is the past.

Now, I run because I’m afraid of not being able to run.  I feel young and capable and alive when my feet contact the sidewalk and the sidewalk pushes me forward another step.  But no longer do I bound from the house and sprint away for that first blazing mile.

Mile 1 is now slow and steady.  I think about my feet, my legs, my arms; loosening joints and muscles and slowly building into a reasonable pace.  There are twinges of pains and twitches of muscles that must be extracted from the body.   Mile 2 is where the mind starts to drift.   Thoughts about tomorrow’s calendar and the balance of the to-do list.  Reflections about the nice words I received from a friend, and the hug I owe my wife.   Mile 3 is the fantasy football mile.  For the love of all things green and peaceful, why do I still play this ridiculous game?  Two running backs…the better is a game time decision, but the worst plays in the early game.  Who do I pick?  Who do I pick?  Oh,  I know it doesn’t matter, but I hate losing to those other mouthy guys.  Mile 4, the mind drifts back to the body.  The legs are tiring earlier than years previous,  but I know that age should offer endurance as a replacement for speed.  So I ponder whether to pursue mile 5.  Yes, I pursue.

Mile 5 is the mailbox mile.   “There is no way I can make it up this hill,” I tell myself, “but I can make it to the yellow mailbox.”  And then to the fire hydrant.  And to another mailbox.  I see another runner, approaching from the opposite direction.    My stride is quicker and longer now.  I steady my breath and return to my 1000 yard stare;  I am the essence of agile, conditioned athlete.  We approach.  I glance, waiting for the right distance to acknowledge.  At 15 feet, the other runner breaks focus and glances my direction.  I give a half-wave and quick smile to my fellow pacer.  He acknowledges with an abbreviated nod as we separate in opposite directions.   After a few more seconds, I decide to walk to the next mailbox.

When the heat of summer passes, I’ll gain a few more seconds of speed and a mile or two of distance.  But that, too, will be slowly consumed by the years ahead, which is perfectly fine and normal.    I am grateful for each hour that I have both health and family to enjoy.    I know that at anytime fate and circumstance can change everything that I now enjoy – either consciously or passively.  So I’ll accept the slower miles and twitchy runs as nature’s way of giving me more time outdoors.  I just wish those mailboxes weren’t so far apart.

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One Response to Running Because

  1. Pingback: License plate? Anyone get that? | If I Can U Can

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