I was out running on Sunday.
Yep. Just stop, for a moment, and savor with me the awesomeness of that statement.
Can you feel it?
There was a little flutter as I started that old routine. Capris. Shirt. Hat? No hat. Favorite socks. Those new running shoes I bought in July? Yep. Time to bust them out. Double knot. Where’s my ID? Cash? Keys? Lock it up. Start the timer. Five minute warm-up, walking up the hill.
Those people on the street don’t know how long it’s been. They can’t see the ten years I ran before ever getting hurt. And the two years of slogging and fixing to get back. Chin up, girl. Chin up. Rounding the corner by the tube, and it’s gorgeous. There are fall leaves just waiting to swirl around my steps. Okay, so it’s a six minute warmup. I’m waiting for the path.
And then I’m across the road, and I want to run, but I’m smart. Two years of an empathetic but instructional running doc and physio – two years with guys who taught me smart rehab – and 8 years of time with great running coaches, and I know enough to start this one on a walk. So I walk. There’s soft, just barely wet ground under my feet. A well-worn running path circles Clapham Common and it’s kindly telling me to take my time. Step where I want. There’s no crown to manage, no branches to avoid.
And then, that little magic watch does its thing. And I’m running again. Only two minutes to start. The stride is the same – or is it? Step lighter? Maybe a little. Maybe it’s the 25 pounds gone that makes it seem simpler. But it’s cautious too. Roll through the toe, push off. But pace the breathing, just like old times – breathe in in time with each step – one, two three (in, in, in), one two (out, out)…wondering now how I have the stamina even for that, having not seen a run in 9 months. How is that possible?
And then it’s merciful beeping. Turns out, just as challenging as it should be. The common is busy with people getting yelled at – by soccer coaches, by parents, by drill-camp instructors who make me, just for a moment, miss my running coaches. I round through the gazebo, checking my watch (I’m running again) and head for home. After all, there’s only 30 minutes on today, with 5 warm up and 5 cool down. I resist the urge to beat up on myself. It’s 30 minutes more than I’ve done in a long time.
I motor back through the park towards the tube. It’s thinking about raining now, but I don’t care. I have a red face, and that hair that’s always in my eyes – but hasn’t been a problem for awhile (because how bad is it when you’re sitting still?) is suddenly real annoying.
I trek home, stopping for water. As I turn into my apartment and stop for a stretch, my watch keeps beeping. For the next 20 minutes, as I putter and putz, it beeps at me, every 3 – then every two minutes. It’s a quiet, but insistent reminder of the celebration a long time coming.
I turn off the watch, and think for a minute of the countless weekends I’ve spent in the last ten years, doing just this. Sailing through a park on heavy feet – but with some of the best friends I could ask for. I miss them today, but today life is uncomplicated and happy. I ran. It didn’t hurt. I’ll do it again.
Sometimes, the simple joy in grasping that one thing just out of reach is more powerful than anything you could have imagined.
See you on the path.