Running to Sixteen

So, why do I run, you ask?

Oh yes, I run, just in case you didn’t know.  And I have been running for two weeks, which of course makes me an expert.  And you’re right, I look a little lumpy, a little too oh, how do you say, out of shape to be a runner.

Details, details.

So running.  It’s something I’ve taken up again, mostly to combat the bad attitude I wake up with and also to help me wake up.  It’s hard to feel tired and bad when you have to concentrate and focus all your energy on the sidewalk not kicking your you-know-what on a daily basis.

So the first couple of runs: not so great.  Out of breath, out of shape, and did I mention this? We live in a hilly area, so a lot of steep slopes.  Slopes are not exactly nice to novice runners.

But the last couple of runs have been pretty good.  I’m figuring out my groove (very, very slowly) and how much of a beating my body and my weak knees can handle without my body throwing in the towel.

But mostly I run to go back to a time before the delicate knees, before I damaged one of my knee caps in a drill team routine, before I became old-ish, achy, and complain-y.

I run to get back to that girl inside of me, that one who had the energy of gazelles, the one who could laugh at anything, open throated, without concern about odd looks, the one, who in my prime running days of my teens, would roll up her sleeves and fasten them with ribbons, with bows to hold the sleeves out of her way, would tie up just about everything in her life with some sort of bow, ribbon, something not necessarily useful, but pretty just to be pretty.

That girl seems long gone some days.  She isn’t that far away, I know, but through motherhood and work and life (all beautiful things, don’t misunderstand me about this) and all things “responsible”, finding her again, and that freedom seems impossible when you are holding someone’s wet diaper in your hand, when you need to be a good citizen and fill out tax forms, and especially when you are praying and worrying over your friend’s parent who is gravely ill. It is all too much, like unbidden maturity that has come way too soon.

Running has helped me find her again, my sixteen year-old self. It’s helped me find her voice and the spontaneity I once knew back when life seemed to be a bunch of endless horizons, so many choices just awaiting to be pursued, just awaiting someone to find them.

That is why I run.  Not to run away from the responsibility, the seriousness, the tasks, but I run so that I remember I am not all to-do lists, roles and personas. I run (and write too, if you must know) so I don’t lose anything and everything but myself.  It’s reclaiming a part of me that allows me to still be silly me, to still be that teenager (though hopefully without the sighing, longing and pouting) that still resides within these old-ish bones, that one that still sees endless horizons through the ever-moving landscape of life.

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