I’ve never run competitively and have no desire to. I run to exercise and for how I feel after—endorphins (endogenous morphine) pumping through me, lungs gasping for air purging toxins, and on warm, humid days, sweat freely pouring from my pores. I feel alive. More connected with nature. Even on the tough days—when it’s as if I could die any moment—when I finish, it’s all worth it.
I run the same three mile course. The goal: do it under a half hour. Never gotten below twenty-seven minutes and never above thirty. I go at a steady pace which is more than a jog and less than a run. Some days the first few minutes are hard if I didn’t sleep well the night before. Or maybe because thick, hot air makes it difficult to breathe. Air impacts me more than I had expected. I often realize it’s when the air is crisp and clear that I near a personal record.
There’s a hill on the third block—a slow, steady climb. It’s the toughest one. I plan it that way. It’s good to have a hill and good to get it out of the way early. By the time I reach the top, my heart is pounding and I wonder if I can keep going. A couple of steps later, the road ahead is flat and that feeling fades as my muscles warm and I tell myself, “Finish.”
I continue on, my body working harder. My abdominals tired from breathing, and my focus is reduced to the next step. That’s it. The sum total of my experience. It’s good to be in that state, especially after a morning of writing, at least for awhile…