I set out and let my feet fly over the uneven pavement. In the dark I can barely see the sticky dark seeds that the Japanese plum trees shed all over our neighborhood, but I can feel the brittle shells crush under the soles of my high tech sneakers as my feet pound the sidewalk.
At the end of the street I hesitate; walk or run? When I first started out I used to walk every other block, but tonight I don’t want to stop so I race on down another block and at the next street corner I keep going. Halfway down the third block I remember that I should probably pace myself. Overtiring my body will just backfire. So, despite the urge to keep running and the headiness of not needing to slow to catch my breath, I slow and catch my breath.
At the next corner I pick up the pace again. For a moment my thighs threaten to start hurting and I worry that my legs are going to start to feel leaden, but unexpectedly the feeling passes and I marvel at the strength that emanates from my legs instead. What a difference just a few weeks can make.
Look at me go! Who is this girl? A month ago she couldn’t hobble down the block. Now she’s running twice as much as walking and she isn’t hating every step she takes!
My route is mapped out in my head and I barely slow as I run around the blocks. My heart is beating fast and my breath is heavy, but I am by no means heaving. I want to pat myself on the back for doing so well, but it would break my stride. I walk every third block and I breathe easy, enjoying being out late in the dark neighborhood. Fellow late night runners cross my path and I nod a complicit hello to them. It feels great to be a part of this secret society.
Last night I ran further than ever before, and when I spied the corner I used struggle to reach, instead of straggling to a stop I picked up the pace and pushed on. I ran up the last block and stopped in front of our house. As I stretched my calves I basked in the glow of my accomplishment, proud that I kept on going when I really wanted to quit. Tomorrow I’m adding another block to my route and I might even research that ½ marathon I keep promising myself I’ll run next fall.