Friday, July 30, 2010

The Missing Feet

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.~


  1. :) the best blessings are the ones you didn't have to ask for

  2. @ Tabitha,
    You have a gift, running or writing...i suppose whatever that would be.
    Secondly, You're a gift!!...

    i can relate to your story,
    though i don't run anymore due to constant shin splints, the doc said i had to change my activity or suffer... the shoes and the rest of it won't help.
    It was hard but i accepted it....after many temptatives to prove the Doc wrong....
    i love running, i love the feeling of mutating into something else as i would get into the euphoric second wind....unfortunately,that was it!!
    But i still felt the need to strenous activities..because i'm made like that....i love going to the frontiers of breathlessness and stay there as long as i can...and so now i hike, i especially enjoy the going up part rather than the coming down.

    i enjoyed your story....and loved the parts that takes us beyond running.
    You are such a marvellous creature...i hope you 'll always be what you are!

    Hugs and kisses.....

  3. oh this made me cry, and that is a feat in itself. Such a simple story, yet so amazing.

  4. I am a runner who loves to run alone. And this story really made me cry- I really don't know if it is fact or fiction, and don't care to know either. It was beautiful.

  5. Sometimes, that unexpected co-runner who gives a new lift to my tired feet is from some crazy place like Australia. ;-)

  6. I love it when "someone" joins me while I run or exercise. "Someone" who takes me away from my solitary existence. Thanks for this, Tabitha!

  7. You write well. It's a good mix of images and emotions, it holds the reader's attention. I also like the way you vary the length and descriptiveness of sentences. You do it in a way that creates a non-jarring, unobtrusive and natural narrative flow.

    I liked the piece, both from literary and from emotive standpoints.

  8. First, this is a really great short story. For me, I run alone. I write alone. I'm a loner. I didn't know what I was missing until I found my beta. Now she "runs" with me. It's a gift.


  9. This is beautiful, Tabitha. You have an amazing gift with words.

  10. What a great story Tabitha, and so well told. Writing is perhaps the loneliest act a human can do, which means we need all the company we can get.

  11. I LOVE this is. Seriously, I hope you're saving all these posts.
    Yes, I prefer to be alone and then sometimes I've had company forced on me and I realized what I was missing with my aloneness.

    I'll admit though that being surrounded by other writers is something I love so much!

  12. Oh, TABITHA!! We are soulmates in another way.

    I also jog with a girl. Her name is Laura.

    But she has four feet!!!

    Yes, I LOVE running with her. She doesn't complain about the speed. The only problem? Her rather public bathroom habits.

    LOL for a great and blessed weekend.

  13. You are a wonderful gifted person albiet running or writing. this was a great write and a pleasure to read.


  14. You have a nice's good for us "alone ones" to have one.

  15. Tab,
    It is so hard to open our hearts to new people once we have been left by old ones that we deeply loved. Sounds like that heart of yours is cracking open a bit - here's where trust comes into play. Trust ourselves to choose wisely and trust others to love and not hurt us.
    I write alone, but other than that, others' feet are always with me.

  16. To be vulnerable and let people in to your softest parts is so difficult. But you write this beautifully. And you are blessed!

    And I wish I ran that much...


  17. Ah, this is lovely. I run alone, too. I've been writing alone, but am starting to venture out and find others.

    Thank you.

    And thank you so much for visiting me. Blessings to you (and your feet).

  18. Tabitha, I love this. I used to run alone but now I have companions that push me to keep going. It is so much better.

  19. Marvelous story. I'm a "lone runner" for the most part myself. When people horn in on my loner activities I could cry too. But it's funny how some people wiggle their way into your life in ways you could never have imagined. I love being alone. But, even more, I love those people who make me love their company more than being alone.

  20. Thank you all for visiting. I have to tell you, that is a true story. That is what happened to me on Friday morning. This Friday morning. I could think of no better thing to post.

  21. I don't run.. I swim. And now I don't live near a pool, and I miss the peace of jumping into that water and the peace that is all encompassing as I relax to the rhythmic beat of my lapping and breathing..... alone, peaceful, calming.
    I love having the opportunity to be alone, but not for too long.
    Michelle J

  22. My wife and kids run with me, and for that I'm most gratefu. I could not run this race without them and their support.

    Stephen Tremp

  23. Came here from Rayna's blog. Wonderful story, beautifully told.

  24. Right now, I'm being the feet that run beside a friend.

    But I have friends who do it for me too.

  25. I met an angel when I ran a marathon. An angel in a 60 year old man's body. I was on my 23rd mile and hit a WALL!! I stopped to get a drink of water, didn't think I could get back going again. Then this energetic little man three times my age comes alongside me and encourages me to start running again and stays with me until my legs are moving again. I'll never forget that guy.

    As far as writing, I have a group of people that run with me and I thank God for them every day.

    As usual, beautiful post Tab!!

  26. You have a much needed and much deserved friend - one to match your heart and soul. I love this story.

  27. "I gather my crying inside." Much to discuss just in that.

  28. Oh my goodness, this is beautiful. Beautiful.
    Keep writing.
    W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

  29. Better check out my blog ASAP. Nice way to start your week, huh?