A day in the life of a runner

It started yesterday, with that nagging thought: “I should go for a run tomorrow.”

In the morning, it was too quiet. Must have snowed in the night.

Yup. Snow. Still snowing.

Forget it. I’ll run when it’s nicer out.

But . . . I have the time, I have the energy, I have the motivation. I’ve run in an ice pellet storm before. This gentle spring snow is nothing. A bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, and I’ll go!

Crunch of snow under running shoe. A distant train horn. The shhhhhhk as a car drives past on the slushy road. The buzzing whirr of the wind turbine at the high school weather station. A klatch of sparrows in the bushes. A gull cries overhead – they are migrating at the moment.

Mittens and jacket block the wind. Cap keeps snow out of the eyes and fends off low-hanging boughs. Trendy low-rise pants and a top cut for the board-straight physique of a “typical” runner conspire to bare flesh to the elements. I yank the clothing back into place.

Reverie. Things I need to do at work. Things I need to do at home. The could be and should have been and might not ever be.

A snow plow grinds by. I wave to the driver, working on a Saturday morning. He waves back.

Footprints in the snow. A cat. The shuffle of the kid who delivered the paper. A man’s heeled boot that crossed the street, went south a block, and crossed back again. Squirrel tracks that look like butterfly shapes. The footprints of another runner.

Will someone notice in my footprints the places where I stopped to walk, when my too-fast heartbeat, a medication side effect, became too much?

A red traffic light is a blessing, a breather. I give myself permission to walk when I need to – it’s my reward.

I recross my own footprints from earlier on the out-and-back route, nearly obliterated by the continued snowfall. Just like my fitness level, obliterated by months of inactivity. Ephemeral.

On the home stretch, a stab of pain in my ankle. I ignore it, try to adjust my stride.

I stop my GPS device. I feel good. Accomplished.

I stretch and massage my muscles.

But later in the day, the ankle pain comes back – shooting, electric. I can’t trust it to hold me up. When the pain comes, it makes my leg buckle.

It’s the same pain as last year, in the same place. Why is it back?

Stupid aging body.

Time to commit to the stationary bike and – ugh! – dull, boring, hateful calisthenics.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

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