Today in my black shorts and loud running tank and shoes, I started out in the overcast weather for an easy peasy run. One of my favorite songs belted into my ears and my initial mistake was getting lost in the music and going out too fast…at least for the pace that I’m used to enduring mile over mile.
Frustrated, I slowed to a jog and then finally, gave in to a walk.
Ugh, I thought, I’m getting slower and slower. This is such bull shit.
Hitting a stretch of road demarcated by two towering trees, I decided, fuck this. I’m kicking up my legs, feeling my quads burn, sprinting the shit out of this path, because there is an end point in sight and I have nothing to lose.
Picturing myself as Allyson Felix, the Olympic athlete in the women’s 400 meter relay, I gave it everything I had, pretending that someone was depending upon me to finish strong. And then I stopped. Huffing and puffing, sweat stinging my eyes, chest leaping out of my body, I stopped to look up and smiled. Jesus Christ…that felt good.
I used the remaining three miles to do the exact same work…sprinting as hard as I could for a designated distance, regaining strength and then repeating, all the way home. It felt foreign and beautiful and a meaningful accomplishment.
Instead of negotiating whether I was a legitimate runner or not, I stopped thinking and starting running…I gave up on giving credence to the noun and decided to imperfectly be the verb. I didn’t give myself a chance to follow-through on my credentials, I just deemed myself worthy for 30 minutes and did the work. And it hurt, and it felt good and it was messy and uncharted and new and beautiful.
And when I arrived home, I reminded myself of this transformative Mark Nepo poem…
Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won't let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can't be done.
Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.
You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.
We are all great explorers navigating the tricky and ordinary waters of our lives, searching, celebrating, grieving, yearning, proclaiming, hoping against all hope that it means something.
Today, for me, it was a brief glimpse into a fraction of what I’m capable of.
Sometimes, two trees, a stretch of road and bright running kicks are a nice reminder.