Another morning and more rain, soft cold misting rain. When daylight teases my eyelids and moisture drips off the pane, I pry myself from the nest of down and soft skin. Slipping into tights and tennies, I pull on a stiff stale shirt and a windbreaker and chase the dog down the steps. For sixty minutes I run in the rain – because I have to, because I will regret it if I don’t. And because if I don’t run in the rain, in Seattle I would never run. And I have to run.
I have never been one to love the act of running, I just love having done it and being done. I don’t get lost in the miles, I rarely find myself in the solitude. It is never graceful and it usually hurts. It’s sweaty and achy and arduous every step of the way. But I do it almost every morning, because the lightness of my breath, the weight off my shoulders, the looseness of my legs after the miles are behind me liberates the rest of my day. There are blocks of euphoria and effortless stride, of course, but mostly I curse the miles to come and, dragging myself along, try to focus on from and distract myself with music. And then I peel off the last bridge and come around the corner, and the lake is back to my south and I am almost home. I limp up the stairs and I run to the toilet – because running has an uncanny affect on my intestines – and it’s another day to begin. As much as the fatigue and the soreness, it’s the hot shower and the steaming tea that I run for. For knowing that I devoted an hour to my health and actively invested in longevity and now the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will, or as life demands.
I’m sure there is a genetic component to the obsession of something one can find so many reasons to hate. A mother who runs two miles a day every day no matter what is sure to scar her child into believing that this routine is the only way to fitness and health and sanity. And so you slip into the rhythm when you are too young to know better and then dozens of years and hundreds of miles later, you are still running and you can’t stop. Your knees beg you to reconsider. Your partner would rather the alarm didn’t go off before the sun came up. Some days the dog really just wants to sleep. But you curse the creaking knees, you start to wake before the alarm, you raise the pitch of your voice and tease the dog from her pillow and you run – because nothing else feels the same and nothing ever will. And then with shoes hung up and another loop behind you, you step steaming from the shower and curl around a mug. Another run. Another day.