The morning is perfect for a run*. Before I get on the trail, I catch a glimpse of the fog wrapping itself around the base of the mountain. Beautiful.
And then, I am pounding a rhythm on the gravel. The light is streaming through the tall trees, visible on the beads of moisture clinging to pine needles and on the dissipating mist. Beautiful.
I feel it.
I feel the quiet and I feel the fresh air filling me,
I feel loose, my legs feel long, and I feel strong.
I feel like I could run forever.
*Technically, I am not a runner. I probably do not 'run' fast enough to qualify, nor far enough. But because I prefer to say run over jog, and because I sure feel like I am running when I'm doing it, that is what I will call myself - a runner.
I cannot run forever. But I am getting stronger. Eight runs ago, my 'runs' were actually 'shuffles'. Literally!
I came home with sore abs, a sore butt, and mild shin splints.
But I kept at it, a few days a week; I kept pushing myself to go a little farther, run a little faster. My 18 minute runs have become 35 minute runs and my route has become longer.
Perhaps this is why...
When you live right next to the urban trail system, which winds through pine trees along a nature preserve, you wonder why you didn't start using it sooner.
Actually, I have yet to experience 'runner's high'. (See! I told you I am not a runner!) I will console myself with the knowledge that I have not yet pushed my body beyond its limits, and for now, that is a good thing.
I started running because it seemed to be the answer to two of my problems.
~I wanted to be fit.
No, I do not need to lose weight. I don't even own a scale. I'm finally feeling the effects of having five children and putting their needs before my own. Basically, I was feeling lethargic and droopy and unhealthy. I want to feel healthy and fit. And I want my heart and lungs to be strong.
~I needed time to myself.
To date, I have been content with my occasional evenings out, my projects around the house, and the kids at my feet. But recently, I have to say that I've been needing more 'me' time. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that there are seven people in this house. At any rate, I began slipping out the front door before the house awoke, gratefully breathing in the quiet.
I can't say that I love running itself, but I do love the effects of running.
I love starting my day early, and starting it with a run. I eat better, get more done in a day, and have more energy. I feel ready to deal with the day after my 'solitude' and best of all, I feel fit.
And no, I am not always so chipper at 6 am. On mornings that follow too many late nights, I choose to sleep in an extra hour rather than get up and run. But evening runs aren't so bad, even if I have to bring baby along.
She's a pretty good stroller-rider, a run in my neighborhood means a view of the peaks, and the monsoon sunsets are pretty amazing.
So yes, for me running has a lot to do with noticing the beauty around me.
But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that one motivating factor is getting into tip-top swimsuit shape (for our upcoming ten year wedding anniversary, which I'm still stubbornly hoping will involve relaxing at a beach).
I do not know how much longer I will continue running (an old ankle injury occasionally bothers me and my knees get sore) but for now, I'll continue to slip out the door in the early morning light, content to take it one rejuvenating run at a time.
And maybe, just maybe, the passersby will think to themselves "runner" when they see my ponytail swish out of their view.