Sunday, May 6, 2012

Running


Several months ago I had a dream that I was running on a freeway. I was in the middle of a lane, amongst the cars, as if I were a car.

It made about as much sense as any dream, but what was significant was how I felt. I felt great. I was breathing deeply, my body was strong, I wasn't tired at all. I felt like I could run forever.

When I woke up I thought: I want to feel that.

It was several months later before I actually went for my first run. I was out of shape and my energy was low. I could only run for short sprints. Mostly, I walked.

I kept at it, though, and little by little, I began to run more and walk less. It was slow going. I had been diagnosed with anemia, and then my thyroid levels went screwy. But I worked to correct both and as my fatigue lessened, my distances grew.

I don’t know why I thought I could run. I’ve never been a runner. When I was in high school, I had surgery on my right leg – they made a clean cut through both the tibia and fibula -- and I was on crutches for six months. I still have a metal plate and screws in my leg. Ever since then, the one leg has given me trouble. It aches. It’s weaker than my left leg. It's prone to shin splints.  

When I started running I didn’t think I would stick with it. I thought it would be too hard. But for some reason it was important to me to keep at it. With everything else falling down around me, I wanted something that I could succeed at, something I could overcome. And I wanted to feel what I felt in that dream.

Now I can go three to five miles at a stretch, though I still alternate between running and walking. I run three times a week. I’ve lost twenty pounds since January.

Today, my son wanted to go up to the track at the nearby school so he could play in the sandpit they use for their long jump. I readily agreed.

When we arrived he started building a castle and moat and I took off around the track. There were some dark clouds moving in and I kept an eye on them. As I circled the track I could hear a few claps of thunder.

Each time I passed the sandpit I would admire his progress. After about two miles I felt the first drops of rain. My son looked up at me when I passed, wondering if this meant the end of the castle-building fun, but I just shrugged and kept going. He smiled and kept building.

In just a few months, the two year mark would come (and probably go) on Jim’s criminal case. Still, there were no charges. I never dreamed it would drag on this long. It felt like a suspended free fall.

Time had made him more confident and he seemed to be finding more and more ways to litigate, accuse, withhold, obscure, harass. He tiptoed around the edges of the restraining order, looking for an opening.

A few more laps and the rain began to fall more steadily. I was breathing deep, but I wasn’t out of breath. My legs were tired, but I wanted to keep running. It felt good. I felt good.

As a hit the straightaway on the far side, the sky opened up. I smiled and looked up. My life was in a shambles, but in that moment, I felt free. For the briefest moment, as I ran down a track at a high school in suburban Kansas in the falling rain, I was free.

I finished my lap, gathered up my son and walked home in the rain. He danced along beside me, stopping occasionally to show me how he could catch drops in his mouth. When we got home, I stood on the driveway and stretched in the rain as he twirled around me.

The sky was growing darker and the rain falling harder, so I motioned for him to come in. He ran up to me and gave me a spontaneous hug. “Mommy, this is the best day ever.”

I laughed. Sometimes I forget the immediacy with which children live. All that matters is that very moment.

We retreated to the shelter of the garage, but neither of us really wanted to go in. For a few minutes, we just stood there, side by side, and looked out at the rain.



17 comments:

  1. Love this post! I have just starting running too. Have signed up for the 4k Mother's Day Classic run. Eeeek! I never thought I would like running either. Weird, isn't it?

    And kids. They are so good at being in the moment! Some of my adult friends seem to still have the gift and I am jealous!

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    1. Kids are the best teachers. Sometimes I'm a lousy student, but they're yet to give up on me.

      Congrats on your upcoming 4k! That's my next step, to sign up for something.

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  2. Running and rain - they both make us feel so free. I understand this. And you captured it so well with your words. I am so glad you felt that sense of freedom amid everything else going on for you. - Deb (Bright and Precious)

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    1. Thanks Deb! Despite the big heavy things going on, life is really just made up a series of moments. Little by little, I'm learning to live in that space.

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  3. You've made me remember how I enjoyed cross-country running when I was at school. I was useless at other sport but running I could do. Like you the sense of being free - both in body and mind - was a huge part of the enjoyment. Maybe it's time I invested in a new pair of trainers?

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  4. Running is my kryptonite!
    For exactly the reasons you describe so beautifully here.
    I seriously love this post.
    :-) xx

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    1. Thanks! I have so far to go, but I think it's on the way to being my kryptonite!

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  5. Well done!!
    What a beautiful anecdote! We should do more of it! :D

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  6. You amaze me. Plain and simple.

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  7. Awesome Kristin. Just simply awesome.

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  8. What a beautiful moment with your son! I love running too, it is really freeing!

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    1. Yes, it's rare that I get time with just one of my kids. They are almost always together. It was nice to be able to share something special, even though it was simple.

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  9. I love this post so much because I can fully relate. I, too, had running dreams for months. Finally, I, too, decided I needed to run for whatever reason my subconscious was telling me to. I am not a runner, either, and it's been a struggle since last fall with soft tissue injury, life getting in the way at times, and respiratory problems. However, like you, I am compelled to keep going. I've lost some inches and feel fabulous as a result. One foot in front of the other. Glad you are back to writing.

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    1. Wow, kismet! How funny we both dreamed about running. Glad you're keeping with it, despite the setbacks. x

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