I have a huge crush on running. “Crush” isn’t the right word; it’s not a crush anymore, our relationship has more depth than puppy love. To be perfectly honest, we’re soul mates. I love running. I love how we’ve matured together, weathered so many storms, how there are new nuances to be celebrated each and every time we’re together.
I have a visceral response to running that is akin to physical attraction. I see other runners on the road and suddenly I’m grinning like a fool yelling “Runner!” My kids have even started picking up on the game. If I’m having a crappy day and we pass five runners on a drive into Boulder, suddenly life feels calm and Zen again.
I almost slept in this morning. Seriously. I almost slept in and skipped my Saturday morning run. The alarm went off and there was no desire to yank my relaxed body from slumber. I even let myself drift back to dreamland but Bill poked me and said “I turned the alarm off”. My cue to get moving; he was done being awakened every ten minutes by sports updates.
Not feeling particularly spry this morning, I nonetheless dressed and headed out the door. North Fork/South Fork was the preferred method of abuse today and I wasn’t particularly excited about facing the brutality of the hill. No matter; any run is better than no run, regardless of location, distance, terrain, heat, rain, wind or… you get the idea.
We were a small group today. After discussing the route so no one would get lost or left behind, we headed out after waiting ten minutes for Sarah, who never showed. We started easily but within minutes I was covered in a thin sheen of sweat. Elizabeth pointed out some beautiful wildflowers, which reminded me to pull my camera from my water bottle carrier and be ready for any shot that came along. At the intersection of the Mesa Trail and South Boulder Creek trail, we ran smack into Sarah! She ran from her house and cut through the meadow, brilliant woman that she is, and met us on the trail.
Somewhere in the first two minutes, things shifted and I relaxed into the run. My legs felt stronger than I thought, my breath was easier than I would have guessed, and running was actually making me feel BETTER. I wasn’t tired anymore and I didn’t want to be in bed. I didn’t want to be anywhere but right there, on that mountain, with those shoes laced to my feet.
I started snapping a few pictures here and there, and turned around to record Sarah, my beautiful blond friend.
A moment later we crossed paths with a runner who smiled and asked “Are you Lara?” I said yes, and he introduced himself as Dave, my runner friend from Twitter who lives in Louisville too!
Completely tickled to meet someone from my virtual life, my legs had a renewed kick and I plowed up Bluestem with a little more pep. I adore this trail; the shadows, the overgrowth, the rocks and technical footing, the little muddy patches where trickles of water flow from one side of the hill to the other on its downward migration. There’s always something new to see on a trail run and I adore the entire thing.
Beth and Kimmen were waiting at the top of Bluestem. We all stood around for a minute or two until our last runner came into sight, then I took off again so that my heart rate didn’t dip too low. Beth and Kimmen were right behind me, with Sarah, Elizabeth, Marcia and Amy following close behind. We bumped up the Mesa Trail to North Fork and then danced our way down the trail til we got to South Fork, then started making our way back up again. I had a moment of panic, wondering if I had led our group astray (I have serious memory deficits sometimes; things look different to me depending on the day, week, season, etc) because the trail seemed TOO EASY. Where’s the UP, I wondered. Not to worry; my instincts were correct. I was lulled into thinking we had made a wrong turn because of the gentle incline of the bottom of South Fork, but after a few minutes of easy running our conversation stopped so that we could conserve breath to make it up the brutal hill.
I listened to my steady inhale/exhale as I climbed. It’s not often that the only sound in my ears is my own breath, and I got a kick out of paying close attention to the sound of it. Not just the sound of it, but the FEEL of air going in and out of my lungs. My chest was wide open and welcoming, and the sound of air doing a little two-step in my lungs had a comforting quality. It came whooshing out my mouth and nose in steady, regular intervals with a perfect one, TWO, one, TWO, one, TWO. It never occurred to me to wonder if I was breathing too hard or if my heart rate was too high. I was enthralled with the feel of breathing.
And then I wanted to see where I’d been. I slowed to a walk and clicked a picture of Kimmen as she crested the hill. We handed off the camera and she took a couple of shots of me having a blast as I knocked the socks off the hill.
It was time to head back. Beth doesn’t like downhills so I took the lead. They must have waited for the next group to hit the top because I didn’t hear them much after that. Lost in my own little world of meditative running, I bounced off rocks and blasted down the trail, listening to my breath, feeling the swing of my arms and the firm contact of my feet on terra firma.
Running was good to me today, and I met it halfway. We’re so compatible, running and I. When I run I am more than I would be otherwise; wiser, calmer, fulfilled. I languish in the splendor of the person I become when I run, and always look forward to the next time. I am entirely and soulfully attracted to running. Running makes me feel like a strong, proud, competent, beautiful, sexy woman, and that’s why I’m in love.