Friday, February 10, 2017

My first running route.....27 years ago....

                        When I was a teenager, and spending the summers at my mom's job in East Hampton, NY, I use to get up every morning and run 3 miles as the sun rose. My mom worked as a housekeeper to a wonderful family who spent summers in the Hamptons. Nevertheless, this 3 miles, this was my first real running route. At that time in my life, I was going through absolute hell at home and running was my only source of literal and figurative "fresh air". It was beyond liberating going out in the elements, rain or shine, and just running. Running buried itself deep in my heart during those summers. How can it not, for to suddenly feel heavenly in the midst of all the personal horror I was living, how could it not become other-worldly? 

                      Like long-owned prayer beads, daily running routes take on a very comforting feel. In my dreams I often visit this sacred route and in my dreams I can remember every texture change on the road, every scent from the potatoes rotting in summer past the pond to the roses near the entrance to the beach, all the way to the view of the new swan family every year. It's no wonder these days, after a long day of stress and work I can think of nothing more than a good, hard run. Running is my confidant, my wisest and best friend, my savior, my sanity maker, my comfort pillow, my one and only constant. 

                          Today was one of those stressful days. Kids were being unusually loud in every class so when 3:30pm came I was ready to get out of there and hit the gym. The plan was to do an hour of weights, then go home. But, as my heart began pumping it also began to insanely crave the feel of my legs pounding and the freedom felt while running. I texted my sweet husband and as-a-matter-of-factly announced that I'd be a bit later than I thought and got on the mill for a fast 5K, in addition to my hour of weights. Although I did not show it, the inner smile in me stretched from ear to ear as I walked out of that place.... all was fine with the world, I loved all people again (yes, even Trump and all hope was restored. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mortality, Imagination and Romance

            Since my grandma's passing I have thought a lot about my own future passing. Yes, super morbid, I know, but that is what I have been thinking a lot of lately; If I have any control on how I  would "go" (hopefully in the distant future), how would I like to go? I mentioned this to a friend not realizing how odd most people consider talks about death, and she nervously joked, saying, "wouldn't it be nice if we could control how we go?" But I don't think I am trying to necessarily control the date, or the way, but surely there are some aspects of aging I and everyone for the matter, have control over. 

               Little over a year ago, I went with my 8 year-old daughter to the Arlington Cinema Draft House in Arlington, VA to see a movie called, Run Free, the hero of the documentary film, Caballo Blanco, was an ultra-runner legend, goes off on a routine run one day and dies on the trails. He is found by his friends days later and brought back to town to be buried. As sad as this was, after seeing my grandma live through several years of blindness, deafness, and being almost completely immobile for the last year or more, I feel Caballo's passing was actually quite forgiving and much more welcoming than my grandma's passing. So it's not really about controlling when, or how really, yet, I would like to think that if I continued to run into old age, as he did, perhaps, I too could meet such a simple, breezy end. 

                This whole topic brings me to another topic, romance. (be patient)....There's something about running that paints all things, even morbid ones, like death, with a romantic stroke. Perhaps it's all the time spent alone with one's thoughts. Or better yet, perhaps it's all the time spent alone with one's imagination that has allowed my imagination to run rampant. Whatever it is, every aspect of my life is colored with this tint of romantic gravity, all loosely connected to running. I just came to the realization today, as I drove to work, listening to my running mix on top volume, and pretty much aching to be running more than the 2 measly miles I was able to squeeze in, that I pretty much live in my imagination, and, more importantly, that my imagination is very powerful. How else does any runner get through grueling daily training runs without reliving the finish in one's head?