Confession: I lied to my wife.
More like stretched the truth. You see, a few months back, when I said “I’m going to run a few miles,” I secretly ran more than a few miles. I was gone for about 30 minutes, so you can imagine me comfortably running 7:45 – 8:15 minute miles, taking in the scenery. Real casual. But instead, I ran 5 miles and change. Closer to 6. Which means I dug deep for every 5:3X mile.
Why lie about such matters?
When you’re a running addict with a spouse who is having trouble lacing up her shoes and getting out the door, saying, “I’m just going to jog a few miles” doesn’t sound so bad.
Oh, the lies we tell to protect our dirty mistress.
Here’s another confession:
I am now the one with the serious trouble lacing up my shoes and getting out the door. It’s real bad. Almost as bad at that time in high school when I stopped mid-run, like Forest Gump, and just didn’t feel like running anymore.” I said (out loud), “Nope!” walked home, and didn’t run for over two years.
You see, I started playing guitar last month. Like running, learning to play guitar takes patience. It’s humbling. It’s an outlet to purge my emotions; it’s mental floss to sharpen my mind. It gives me callouses to numb my fingers. And because I have this new outlet, I find myself utterly and dangerously bored while running. I actually said, “this sucks!” a few weeks back mid-run. Out loud. What’s left to think about?
Nothing. Insomuch that I am liable to hum Disney theme songs in my head. Thanks, daughter of mine.
I need(ed) a change. And not running wasn’t the answer. So I started to run at night.
I have always been a daylight runner. To save time, I would run right after work, drive home, hop in the shower, andboom – the work day is done and the never-ending feast begins. Maybe that’s what damaged my relationship with running in the first place. Treating it like work. Done at the same time every day. Tick tock.
At night, the same streets, sidewalks, corners, and hills look and feel different. My eyes focus on what’s directly in front of me. On not falling on my face. On swatting away barely visible tree branches. No time for periphery. Because there are real consequences for losing my focus on slippery, dark pavement.
At night, I run to the light. Like a moth, I am drawn to it. Need it. It’s symbolic. Simple.
At night, my thought process is different, too. Reflective. Like in the seven (or more) minutes lying in bed before falling asleep. I feel anonymous, powerful.
It’s new to me. And I think that’s why it’s working. I put more time and distance between work and leisure. No watch, no music, just me, alone, in the dimly lit streets, anonymous and powerful.
Under every streetlight, my shadow renews, leads, and fades. Like a constant companion, a competitor always one step ahead.
With limited sight, I can focus on sounds and smells. The low drone of an engine on the opposing hill. Leaves crunching beneath my shoes. Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce wafting from the Italian district.
It’s dangerous. I know this. Dark alleyways. Flickering streetlights. Long stretches of lonely dark road. Many steps are a matter of faith, a series of calculated decisions, as I cannot fully see where my foot will fall. I have to just trust that it’s solid ground. That’s all that we can hope for, after all.