I ran tonight for the first time in weeks. The dark, the cold, the rain have encouraged me to curl up inside and hibernate. But tonight was a group run at our local store, and I love the energy and the people who participate (we had pub runs in conjunction with our local breweries all summer.)
I stepped out of my office, the one with no windows, and stopped. It was nightime already. And for whatever reason, that thought had not sunk in with me when I packed my bag this morning. I had grabbed a reflective shirt, but not my headlamp or my gps or my water bottle or my street shoes. I thought about heading straight home, but I decided to head on out anyway, shivering in my dress and bare legs.
When I arrived, I decided to test out one of the sponsor’s shoes (altras) and borrowed a light. We set out for a 3 mile run, my legs complaining about the pace a quarter mile in. The other runners stretched out in a line a half mile in front of me, flashlights and reflective belts and blinking flashers in all colors echoing the christmas lights that will soon decorate our house. And by the end of the first mile, I found my groove.
I listened to the women in front of me discuss Broadway. I observed the fairy rings of white button mushrooms that have sprung up after all our recent rain. I watched the lights of a low-flying plane drift lazily overhead. I talked a little with one of the ladies from the 10k training group until our paths diverged. I squinted against the light from the oncoming car headlights. I breathed in deeply the scent of the Alabama hardwood forest mixed with the drifting aromas of the restaurants nestled into the trees. I focused on my form, paying attention to my footstrikes, my posture, my gait. I felt my shoulders relax and slide down from the tense elevation by my ears where they have lived lately.
The body forgets so quickly – forgot the way I feel when I run, strong and loose. Forgot the warm exhaustion of muscles stretched in exertion. Forgot the easiness of moving through a group all focused on one thing, the run. Forgot the way my mind clears and my thoughts settle and my breath comes back to me.
But the body also remembers. And now I’m ready to run again.