I’ve heard people at parties express their annoyance with people who paste those 13.1 and 26.2 bumper stickers on their cars. It’s not clear to me exactly why that bothers them, but it does. When I’m part of the conversation, I respond saying, “I’m so much worse than that. I’ve been writing a runner’s blog for over ten years.” That puts me in control of the dialog and shuts them up.
After ten years, I’ve written over five hundred running-related blog posts. I’m not sure I know why I do it anymore than people know why they slap a 26.2 sticker on their car window. Actually, that’s easier to imagine, they do it to capture their accomplishment. I might do it for that sometimes, certainly when I’m writing about a big event. Mostly though, I’m relating my experience during some routine workout. I can’t imagine people are interested in that, but it doesn’t stop me from sharing.
I know that as I write, I’m looking to express how I felt on my run. I fail every time, but maybe, if I could parse out a turn of phrase here and a sentence fragment there from all five hundred posts, I might be able to stitch together a description of how I feel on a run.
My senses first come alive with the simple act of stepping outside the house and feeling the air on my skin; the beginning of warmth in spring, the onslaught of heat in summer, the comfortable coolness in fall and the piercing cold of winter. Being there to witness the change of seasons is magical and makes me feel like I belong to nature. Words can’t describe the awareness I experience.
Then comes my warmup, which for me, is a good two, sometimes three miles. I’m Sisyphus, pushing that rock up a hill. My entire world is under the weight of gravity, until it isn’t. My legs unwind and suddenly I’m an object in motion with no resistance. This is what I run for. That moment where my body detaches from my mind like a train leaving the station. For the next three, six, ten miles, depending on my conditioning, my legs are a force that can’t be stopped. Running feels like the natural state of being and well before the endorphins kick in, I’m in a state of bliss.
I’ve been trying for the last ten years to describe the joy running brings to me. Had I ever once succeeded, I’d likely stop blogging about it. There’d be no more story to tell. Instead, my literary failures keep me at the keyboard, tapping my story out with expressive fingers as the spent muscles in my legs tighten and I finally withdraw to a bath of salts and hot water – to run and write yet another day.