Saturday morning dawned cold and rainy. I knew there was little chance that anyone in my running group was going to show up for our run in 45 degree, rainy weather, but I got up anyway. I felt responsible for the group and felt I had to show up even though I really wanted to just listen to the rain from my warm, comfortable bed.
I got dressed and headed downstairs. I decided to drive over to the starting point as I didn’t want to wait in the rain. Running in the rain in cold weather is bad enough, but standing in cold, rainy weather is just downright not fun. As I waited in the car to see if any other runners would make the trip out I decided that I was not going to run in this weather by myself. If no one came, I was going back home. After waiting a sufficient amount of time, no one showed so I headed back home and quickly crawled right back into bed. I did eventually manage to pull my sleepy self out of bed and went about my day running errands and preparing for Easter the next day.
Then in the middle of Bed Bath and Beyond something strange started happening. I started obsessing about running. I mean I absolutely felt that I had to go running and soon. Plus I didn’t want to run my short 3 mile loop. I wanted to run 5 miles at least and I started thinking about the big hills in my town and how I wanted to conquer several of them. The more I thought about it the more I couldn’t wait to get home and get out on the roads.
I finished up my errands quickly and headed home. Luckily, my husband is a little used to my middle of the day runs that seem to come out of no where so he didn’t seem phased that I wanted to go running NOW, in the middle of preparing for Easter company the next day. He just said, “Have fun!”
As I started my run I decided to do a completely new route, one that I knew would have several large hills. The first mile, as usual, was a little tough. My breathing was somewhat off and my legs felt a little stiff, but by the end of mile 2 everything was working well. It had even stopped raining and I was enjoying the wet foliage as I passed every flower in my town.
At mile 3 I hit The Hill. This is the biggest hill I know in my town and I’ve only run it once before. As I approached I reflected that it didn’t seem as steep as I remembered. I started up and by halfway I again realized why this hill seemed so steep. It wasn’t so much that it was incredibly steep as it was long. The length of the hill is what hurts. I finally reached the top and could feel my lungs burning.
As I continued down the other side I started speeding up and by the end I was flying. I passed a woman in her yard halfway down and she looked at me like I was the fastest runner she’d ever seen. I loved the fact that she couldn’t see me as I hit the flat stretch at the bottom. She couldn’t see me slow back down to my normal pace, plus she hadn’t seen me struggle on the way up the hill. It’s fun to leave an impression of amazing speed in some random stranger’s mind.
I continued on my run through a section of my town I’ve barely driven through and have never run through. It was great not to know exactly how much further the next turn was or what every house looked like as I passed. It was wonderful to have no exact measure of how far I was running or how much longer it should take. All I knew was how much time had passed since I’d started.
As I ran back through the center of town towards my house I passed several people standing outside some stores and restaurants and all of them gave me little pep talks and little votes of confidence. I wondered if the look on my face was different this time out as most people only say hi as I run by. I rarely have the type of interactions I was having today. Maybe I looked happier because I’d truly run just for fun, not for time or distance. I had gone for this run because my body told me I had to. It insisted that I go. I started running 3 years ago hoping to experience that so called runner’s high. Now I’m a real runner, not just because that great runner’s high happens routinely, but also because I have those days when I feel compelled to run just because I can. On those, all too rare “running is a compulsion” days, running makes me happy, joyful and downright ecstatic to be alive.