I vowed after my 17 mile run this past winter that left me completely gutted that I would never run down the Cape Henry Trail again. That run was five and a half months ago, and yet, I feel like a lifetime existed in the winter and spring months since that date. Time has passed, and the long never-ending trail doesn’t haunt me anymore. My feet have led me back to that trail. For the past six weeks, I have returned every Wednesday. My miles are smaller this time, nothing bigger than six miles as I nurse an aggravated hip. They are more focused and full of ambition and excitement. My running is changing.
Running with my coach (on a bike beside me) is peeling off layers. It’s shaking off the rust that has accumulated: rust on these running legs of mine that has been building up since I ran track in high school, rust on this brain of mine that got stuck thinking that I am slow since returning to running a few years ago, and rust on this heart of mine that has needed a little protecting since it was broken this winter.
As I made my way through several series of pick-ups during yesterdays run, I felt myself shed another layer. As my stride extended to cover more trail and my arms worked to help carry me, I felt like I was flying. I felt free. For you non-runners, the best comparison I can make is to compare it to a horse. The trot, my normal comfortable run pace, is rigid and bouncy. The canter of a horse smoothes out and a rhythm develops. And the gallop – that is where the flying happens!
My love for running has moved into another category. I now remember why those six-minute miles felt amazing in high school. These pick-ups have shown me how great it feels to let go and run. My garmin is showing glimpses of 6s again even if they are just for brief moments. These pick-ups are leaving me with a smile on my face, the simple act of putting it out there and letting it go. They are also extending beyond my Wednesday runs. I’m looking for them everywhere.
That 17 mile run in January left me gutted, but so did life. An instinctive need to guard myself from all big emotions (even the good ones) became my method for dealing with life. This impacts everything. My relationship with Christian became a little more stressed. My interaction with the boys became a little more guarded. Opening up and feeling the big love I have for them all became scary. I started to get rusty.
During my runs I’m choosing to run these pick-ups. I’m also choosing to find pick-ups in my daily life. Instead of shying away from an extra kiss from my husband in the kitchen, I’m hanging on to that extra moment. I’m leaving my side of the living room to curl up on his lap at the end of the day. In the middle of the night last night, I woke up and found myself holding his hand. I’m lingering at bedtime as I tuck Cole into bed instead of rushing through the process. I’m adding an extra block to our family walks because it’s one of the few times Cole loves to converse. I’m tickling Chet more, and letting him pick my nose. We are sharing smoothies on the porch.
Our day-to-day life will probably always be the a little rigid and a little bouncy like the trot of a horse. We are a normal busy family. We will get rusty. It’s the small moments in the time that we do get to share, the pick-ups in our day, when we open up, we let ourselves go, and we commit to flying that matter most. It’s where the real work happens.