Running was born in me the day I realised I could send my feet one place and my mind someplace else. I made a home out of everywhere I ran without remembering much of the physical places I passed by. Imagination was a wonderful companion. And if that failed to transport me the music I stuck in my ears took up the slack. I never knew there was anything missing.
Since my own feet beneath me were much less painful than the possibility of someone joining me and then leaving, I ran alone. Always.
I was not looking for her the day we met. Yet there she was. Crashing into my space with a smile and a request. "Wanna run together?"
Damn my mouth. Why did I mention I was a runner at all?
I tried to talk her out of her own idea.
"I run early."
She didn't care.
"Like 6 am."
She kept smiling.
"Actually 5 am."
"Whatever. Fine with me. Where do you want to met?"
Honestly, I could have cried. And I could have said no. After all, I ran alone. But sometimes persistence should be paid. Besides, I wondered what this girl with the cheek to ask me to run would be like at 5 am.
I let her come. Once, twice. Twenty times. Fifty times. Six months in it turns out she is quite the chatter. One hour into a run, she is still telling me stories. And damned if I can out run her. While I am working she appears to float.
So she talks. I listen. She flies. I pound pavement. She is there... I am not.
My feet go one direction, my mind another. Pieces inside me simply aren't ready to glue themselves back together and risk including another person who could leave me again. I've been there. And 'There' is not somewhere I am keen to revisit. Maybe she understands that. Maybe that's why she lets me add little to our running other than my feet beside hers.
This morning I pulled my car up beside hers at our regular 5 am. She was already looping the car park, warming up. I stopped to strap my feet. Blisters care of last nights boxing weren't stopping me today. She went back the her car to get something. I didn't ask questions. I rarely do.
With my feet strapped and shoes back on, we headed off. No discussions about where we were going. We both know the loop by now. 7.5km if you don't add the extra hill, 8.6km if you do. 10.8km if you loop the warm up road twice. She was doing her usual flying while I worked hard. Only halfway through this morning my body hit the breaks. My lungs, still recovering from infection, ached, and the morning air was cold.
"I'm heading back," I said. " I don't have the rest of this run in me."
"I know." She waved me on in front. "And go to back bed. You need to let your body rest."
I headed back. She kept going.
But here's the thing, for the first time in a long time I was running alone again. And something began to happened to me on those last few miles back to my car. I missed her.
Her chatter. The distraction. Her feet.
I missed her feet.
Somewhere in between all the miles we have jogged I've developed a taste for her story telling and the sound of her feet beside me.
Honestly, I could have cried. Maybe I have been missing some one's feet to run beside me for awhile.
I gathered my crying inside and drove home.
Taking the kids to school later on I noticed a small gift box sitting on the front seat of my car. Inside were a pair of heart earrings. Very funky. Very me.
I called my husband to thank him, but he was confused.
"I didn't leave them for you."
And then I knew. She did. That's what she was getting from her car this morning.
Honestly, I could have cried.
I guess I like her feet beside me, or in front of me and occasionally, if I can push the pace early enough so that I am leading, I like those feet behind me.
No one really runs alone I guess. Maybe that is why my mind was elsewhere on runs for such a long time. It's been searching...
What about you? Do you 'run' alone? If you are a writer, who 'runs' with you?
~In honor of Tracy. The running partner who story tells when she should be working hard, floats when she should be running and gave me heart earrings when I expected nothing. Thank you.~