October 21st, 2011

Running down the road

LJ Idol week 1: When you pray, move your feet.

I am a runner.  It’s taken a long time for me to be able to say that without lots of additional qualifying comments, but at this point in my life; I think running might be necessary.
Maybe it’s about the movement.  The sheer joy of pushing the body a little further than I thought it could go, and finding it has reserves I didn’t know about.  The deep, rhythmic breathing (ok, and occasional hacking cough) that changes out all the air at the bottom of my lungs.  The feeling of stepping outside into a cold morning with a shiver, knowing that in a half mile I’ll be radiating heat.   The occasional twinge or ache of a muscle that reminds me to be aware of my posture and my stride, to stay connected with this wonderful machine we’re all born with.
Maybe it’s about the mental time.  The chance to practice a conversation I’m concerned about having.   Finding some mantra to get up that next hill, or make it to the next fence post, or go back to work later that day with a smile.  I like having the opportunity to really be grateful, or really be cranky, without any interruptions.   The ability to take in the world around me at human speed – whether running in my neighborhood or out on the trail – seeing people and saying hello, seeing animals and moving past as quietly as I can, watching the sun rise higher in the sky and the shadows all fade away.
Sometimes I feel like I’m most myself when I’m running, part of a community of people who are all committed to this same crazy thing.  I have discovered that when you whisper something into the wind while on the move; you’re heard.  Whether hopeful thoughts for a friend, or imagining the face of my boss on the bottom of my left shoe, it’s as though what I carry with me on a run has a closer connection to the ear of the universe.
Running keeps me centered, and happy, and sore.  It gives me goals to work towards, and a secret language to share with people in the starting corral of a race.  I’m a better person when I run, which I guess makes it a good thing for everyone around me, instead of being as selfish as it sometimes feels.
Other people recite, kneel, chant, or bow.  Me?  I run.

***This entry is brought to you by therealljidol, the number 13.1, and the sounds uh and oh.  I am running a half-marathon on Sunday so when I saw this topic I knew exactly what I would be writing about.  The sign ups for the game are open until Monday so you, yes you still have a chance to join the insanity should you choose.***