Today, like I do on many days, I went for a run.
It wasn’t meant to be long – I had a hungry boyfriend at home who was chomping at the bit for grilled cheese and tomato soup and I, quite frankly, was more keen on that than on the run itself. But I knew my body needed it, and so I stepped out into the blissfully cool and breezy dusk. That time of day. You know the one.
where all things are bathed in gold
a clean peace
the interim before the silent chaos of night
That’s how I picture it, anyway. Dusk, and those precious couple of hours before, is my favorite time of day. Just second to it is early morning (between 6:30 and 7:00 am, right about this time of year. Everything is bright and clean and shining. All things are new).
BUT I DIGRESS. I went for a run, intending to go for about 20 minutes. Just enough to get my blood pumping.
Except here in Western Pennsylvania, it’s never just a short run. Because there is no conceivable way that you can run any significant distance without encountering a monster hill (we are, after all, misty mountain people).
The street next to mine is one such street. It is so incredibly steep that my car complains when I drive up it. I drive a relatively new car. This hill should be a cakewalk (cakedrive?) for my car!
So I start up this hill, Arch Enemy blasting in my ears. Usually when I’m embarking on some sort of insane endeavor such as this one, I imagine that I have learned to play the electric guitar (by osmosis, of course) and am onstage with the band I’m listening to, being all metal and stuff. It helps me not think about the fact that my thigh muscles are disowning me.
I’m about halfway up when I realize that my heart is about to explode with effort, so I slow down to a walk. I guess it’s more of a climb at this angle. Should’ve brought grappling hooks. I’m disappointed, because I thought I could run it. I’m feeling kind of bad about myself already: I wore really tight shorts, and I know my thighs are ginormous, and not in a sexy Beyonce way, either. At least they feel ginormous right then and there. I catch my breath. I reach the crest.
And I know that once I reach the top, it’s a right and another right and then I’m home. I also know that most of the road leading back home is relatively flat, merging onto my own street in the form of a steep drop.
Up ahead, I see a dude walking, minding his own business. Lost in his own thoughts. I would ponder his life, his story, but my thighs are screaming, and my lungs are throwing a tantrum, so I just focus on that instead. The most brutal song War Eternal is on – it’s called “Avalanche” – perfectly timed to the end of my run!
I know right then what I must do. You know how Peter Pan sings “I’ve Gotta Crow”?
Well, I’ve gotta sprint.
I break into a decent run during the exposition of the song. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus.
When the bridge comes, the singer growls extremely deeply. It’s as if she’s been holding in a burp for the entire day, and it turned into a gas demon that can only be exorcised to badass double bass.
At that moment, I break into a sprint. After about ten seconds, I’m DONE. I can’t do it anymore. It hurts. Everything is exploding and imploding simultaneously, which doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care, because DON’T YOU SEE I’M DYING?
But I don’t die. Instead, I somehow will myself to go a little faster for a little longer. I turn onto my street, slow down to a jog, and actually start fist-pumping the air.
Sprinting is absurdly difficult, but few things are more exhilarating. More freeing. More strengthening.
Looking back, this is how I feel I looked today while running:
But I know that to bystanders, including the random dude from earlier, I looked like this:
It’s OK. It’s not about them! It’s about me! And the faster I run, the faster I get my grilled cheese sammich and tomato soup. 🙂
Happy running, swimming, biking, professional eating… However you love to move. 🙂