Saturday, October 26, 2013

When I Became a Runner

Emotion course through my veins, choking me. I feel so insignificant, a tiny speck surrounded by a million stars. A million suns.

Beth Revis 

Life doesn't come with a remote.
I ran in high school, but not well. I remember my first race, a mile. It seemed like an eternity. I remember the pain in my side and an adult (a teacher?) encouraging me to stop, to quit.  I didn't, I was too stubborn and frozen with the fear of quitting, the fear of the laughter and the teasing. It was my first and only DFL (dead *ing last).  I started too fast and died on the course along with my spirit for running. I limped across the line with my tail tucked tightly between my legs and salty streaks on my cheeks. I remember the shame.  I ran in high school, but I was not a runner.

I ran again while in university.  My room mate was a serious runner.  She ran marathons and had a trainer. She motivated me to lace up the Adidas once again. I ran casually for several years, mostly in circles around the Legislative Building.  I lived in the Village so the Golden Boy was a good enough destination.  I remember running and running, getting lost in thought, but still not a runner.  I ran distance when Walkmans and Commodore 64's were the multi-media of the day. I ran in university, but I was not a runner.

I ran on and off (mostly off) for years following university.  I ran on a Reserve in Northern Manitoba and the kids would ask me "where are you going? where are you running to?" as if a destination was necessary. Running was not a concept on the reserve. I ran in my 30's and 40's but I was not a runner.

I was 46 years old when I next strapped on the kicks.  Twenty pounds overweight on a tiny frame, in the habit of Scotch at 5, bearing stress and tension. I was not not happy with who I was becoming and the direction I was heading. Someone once said life doesn't come with a remote control, if you don't like the channel you gotta get off your ass. Well friends, I got off my ass and haven't looked back.

I ran at the downtown Y.  I ran miles and miles and endless miles in endless circles.  I would count the circles to estimate my distance.  I became dizzy running in circles, but still I was not a runner.

I ran on treadmills and watched the beefcakes do beefcake things, but still I was not a runner.

I ran on ellipticals and watched the aerobic folks do aerobic things, but still I was not a runner.

I ran out side and learned about injury and layers, but still I was not a runner.

I competed my first half marathon and then a full, but still I was not a runner.

I ran hundreds and hundreds of miles, thousands of miles. I ran half marathons and full marathons. I was drunk with running.  I ran at 6 AM and 6 PM. I ran in plus 38 degrees Celsius and minus 40 degrees. I ran alone, I ran with a single friend,  I ran in groups.  I would run with anyone who had an hour to spare. But still I was not a runner.

I was middle age, past middle age. I had shed 20 pounds, 26 pounds. I became vegetarian, but still I was not a runner.

That feel of becoming a runner, it crept stealthily, methodically, like a cat. It just appeared one day on a trail. It surprised me, but I knew it was true.  I had become a runner.  On the trail with tunes worming through my brain, I had become a runner.

I remember precisely where I was, alone, frozen in a Winnipeg winter time warp, on a trail. The feel that I could run forever on that trail elevated my whole being. That feel of omnipotence,  confidence, fluidity, strength of muscle, of mind, and of spirit. That feel of intense happiness in self. That feel of sharpness of mind, of clarity. That blessed feel of the trail coursing through my body, lighting me up, electrifying my spirit....  that feel.... of being a runner... was overwhelming.

I embraced the trail and I became a tiny speck surrounded by a million stars, a million suns. I became a runner.

Why this story? Why now? I'm not sure.. it's just the way the mind works. 

It's a good day to be alive.