Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Breathe in. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Breathe out.
Before I started running in 2010, the thought of long distance running seemed as foreign to me as learning to speak Dothraki. (Before I started running, the thought of running itself seemed crazy.) Even as I increased my stamina, 1 mile followed by 5K followed by 10K distances, I never dreamed of accomplishing anything in double-digit mileage.
After K was born — an event that lasted 20 hours, 3.5 of which were spent pushing, all unmedicated thanks to Hypnobirthing — my relationship with my body changed. Knowing that I was physically and psychologically capable of such sustained exertion, I began to dream past 6.2 miles.
Three days after K turned one, J and I and his siblings completed a Tough Mudder, a 10 mile race punctuated by 25 obstacles such as climbing over walls, climbing through mud underneath barbed wire, climbing over 10-foot tall walls, and in the case of our race in Vermont, climbing up and down a ski mountain. It was exhilarating!
I wanted more. This past October, I ran the New Hampshire Half-Marathon. Suffering from hip pain for the last three miles or so, I took a brief hiatus to recover. My running schedule became sporadic. I did more yoga and then, as the craziness of full-time teaching and full-time parenting slowly consumed us, I stopped running altogether. Suddenly, I looked at my Nike Run app and realized I hadn’t run in 13 weeks. WHAT?!?!
This morning, I woke to K’s voice on the monitor at 6 am, as usual. Instead of bringing him into bed with us, however, I plunked him next to his father and changed into running tights and sweat-wicking fleece. I laced up my sneakers and walked 10 minutes to meet my friend Mia, who is training for a race at the end of May after having her second child in less than two years.
After some light stretching, we started out. The light mist brushed our faces, landed on our eyelashes and clung to our hair like halos. At first, my amnesiac body argued with my brain: What are you doing to me? Then, slowly, it woke from its fugue state. My hamstrings stretched and sang. My joints loosened. Each footfall shook the cobwebs from my mind; all the stress and tension of the last week fell away like beads of sweat. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Breathe in. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Breathe out.
We had planned to go two miles. When the electric voice of my phone called out TWO MILES we stopped. My body was left wanting more: more footsteps, more oxygen, more miles. Until next time. It won’t be too long.