It’s only January of the new year and I’ve already literally almost fallen flat on my face.
I took up running as a habit in high school, when Dad told me that I could get rid of my asthma by increasing the amount of cardiovascular exercise I did. Why I listened to him, I don’t know but I set myself up for the challenge, mainly to prove him wrong. Running any type of meaningful distance never came naturally to me as a kid in grade school and didn’t come naturally to me then. In college, I ran an obligatory, regimented mile every day on an indoor track, hating every second of it. Much to my chagrin, my asthma disappeared.
I didn’t start to call running a hobby until I had to consciously set aside time for it in my schedule. In my first job out of school, my workouts were always done in the dark - either at 5 am or 10 pm. I ran the three mile loop in Houston in the dark, in the rain, in the cold. It was in the dark by myself that I learned to enjoy the singular focus, tunnel vision, and the repetitive, almost hypnotic rhythm of the run.
After I moved back to Dallas, I ran the nine mile loop around the lake on the best of fall days, which meant you were sweating before the first quarter mile and thought real hard about jumping in. On my less ambitious days, I ran the trails near where I lived. As with any part of the city, there were people mugged on it every season. The same unspoken rules were: Don’t run alone. Or at night. Or early in the morning.
When Bryan and I moved to our townhouse, we conveniently lived by another trail system. Running the trail became our regular routine. This spring we got Bowie, a German Shorthaired Pointer for Bryan to hunt with and for me to run with. Don’t run with the puppy until he’s over a year old, for growth and development reasons, we were advised. Between all the riding and puppy walking, there was no time for running. Contrary to everything my body and mind were accustomed to, we walked. First only around the block a few times, then a mile, then more. Soon enough, we walked the same distance that I ran.
In a few weeks, Bowie turns one and I’ve started running again. I’m working up to the distance as well as the frequency - right now only two miles, twice a week. I tell myself it’s to work the dog up to it. My lies don’t fool anyone, it’s all for me. After the longest break I’ve ever taken, my legs have to be reminded of the rhythm and my behind has to build back up its muscle. The joints in my hips hurt after running two days in a row. And my feet, my feet have to find their place.
Which leads to my near-faceplant of 2019. In my new neighborhood, which is actually an old neighborhood, tree roots lurk below the surface of the uneven sidewalk. I’ve tripped over them before, I’m actually known for tripping and falling during my runs. Last week, sure enough, down I went. The dog stopped right by me, sniffing on the sidewalk where I landed, wondering what it was that I saw that caught my interest so suddenly. Luckily, the only injuries sustained were scraped palms, knees, and bruised pride - all of which will heal.
And so I start the year, trying to re-learn the thing that I’ve done for almost 20 years and picking it and myself back up again.