Here is what it is like to run sometimes.
Frustrated with life, I tore off my t-shirt and threw it against the wall hoping it would shatter, disappointed that it merely fell. I pulled down my pajamas and boxers, found running shorts and a wool long-sleeve shirt, and pulled them on still angry. I wrapped my ID bracelet around my wrist and running sandal straps around my feet, capped my head and gloved my hands, snapped the reflective vest, and went out the garage, down the driveway, and onto the road.
I found that I was running.
I haven't run in months aside from the occasional desperate attempt. My wife had suggested that a run might heal me but I wanted to punish myself, hurt myself maybe.
I ran uphill to get myself gasping in the 28 degree air and wind, hoping maybe to blow the frustrations out of my system.
Running wasn't frustrating. Even after a long lay-off I can run slow but steady and keep going. I was only out for two and a half miles or so, something just to shake off my dark feelings and get out of my head, but I was thinking these thoughts as I ran uphill rather than letting my mind go blank. I pushed harder.
28 degrees seems too cold for shorts and sandals but the cold was supposed wipe me clean. At the top of that hill, my breath burning, it still wasn't working. I ran down a gentle grade then uphill next to the house with all the solar panels which reminded me of my frustrations. I looked away and tried to run faster.
Just before the school track I came upon a woman walking her dog. "Good morning!" I said, surprised at how happy I sounded. Why, I wondered, was I so generous in greeting strangers yet so inclined to tell myself to go fuck off? More thoughts. I couldn't run from them.
Past the high school fields I turned down the big hill to the road along the brook. The wind found me there, blowing hard against me, and I was reminded of the cold on my legs, through my shirt, against my eyes now tearing. I straightened my back and lifted my feet. Proper form, I thought. That's what I need. Again I tried pickin up the pace. I don't know my speed having left the GPS watch at home. I didn't need a coach so much as a therapist, though I neither came to me and I was left alone with my awful self.
The flat road home leaves me with a choice of turning two blocks before home or half a block past. I chose the latter out of habit, hoping it would help me be my running self, a person better in nearly every way than my sitting self. I pushed into a sprint to see what that might feel like, but my thoughts were still coming and I've no idea what anything felt like beyond my confusion.
At the corner I slowed and jogged up the incline toward the house. I turned onto our street and at the stop sign slowed to a walk as I have for almost two decades. At the garage I tapped the same old code into the keypad and watched the door open onto the same garage and the same home in which I've been living all this time. Nothing had changed.
Inside I shed my hat, gloves, sandals, and reflective vest. I forgot my ID bracelet until I was upstairs with my family there to remind me who I am. I ripped open the velcro on the bracelet and tossed down the steps where it disappeared into the darkness without a sound. I stared after it for a moment already making it into etaphor and wishing the run had left me blank and open to new ideas instead of still stuck on all the old ones.
That's what it's like to run sometimes. Maybe tomorrow the run will be different.