Sunday, July 12, 2015

Are You Running From or Running To?

That used to be my silent taunt to people I'd see jogging.It's not that I have anything against runners. There are many runners in my life who I respect greatly. And on some level, I was simply jealous of their discipline. On a basic level, I got it. I remember the immense satisfaction of my high school Phys Ed running unit, when -- over six weeks or so -- I went from being unable to go a quarter mile without getting a stitch in my side to running a mile without being winded. Of course, that was also in the carefree dementia of youth, when your body foolishly just does what you ask of it. As I aged and considered exercise as an important undertaking, I felt that running as a pastime held a cultish mindset I tend to resist:  like religion, diets, and Game of Thrones. It also plays heavily into our culture's obsession with the idea that good is never good enough. While in her twenties, Jamie literally ran her knees into the ground trying to satisfy an unreasonable body image.

Of course, over the past five years, my inherent envy over running has taken on unique shades of green. For one thing, gravity is by no means my friend. And my body no longer does what I ask of it. That said, I also make an effort not to ask too much of it. Throughout my recovery, I've been far more interested in quality over quantity. I walk a steady pace of barely one mile an hour, and I don't care to improve upon that much. Speed leads to distraction, and distraction leads to accidents. I would much rather take some extra time safely arriving at my destination than pick myself up off the ground multiple times getting there.

Nevertheless, I've had a number of dreams lately where I'm running. Not an all-out sprint; a sort of gliding shuffle based in my reality.  I'm always in some sort of open, mossy field that looks soft enough to propel myself without too much fear of misstep. Oddly enough, in my everyday travels, I don't come across many open fields. So I haven't drawn my dream into reality.

Today, however, we beat the heat at a local State Park, beach, and pond. After about twenty minutes or so of wading out into the swim area; adjusting to the temperature and weight of the water; watching other families frolic and cavort, I turned back toward the shore and saw Gus standing in the shallows. And I thought, "I could just run to him." It wasn't a mossy field, but it would do. So I steadied myself, measured the thickness of the water, and with a cry of, "Freight Train Coming!" I charged. Mind you, this train was waist high in lake water, wearing a life jacket, and probably hit a breathtaking top speed of 1.25 MPH. But I thought that I was running, I felt like I was running, and the priceless expressions on my family's faces suggested that I looked like I was running. Therefore, I guess I was running.

 Over the course of the afternoon, I managed to chase down and pounce on all three members of my family. So, as far as I'm concerned, I  ran a marathon in twenty-foot bursts.