The miles slipped away, trailing out behind my legs as I left time in the past. I thought about my hips gliding forward in a uniform plane. I thought about hinging my body at my ankles. I thought about staying tall, long. I thought about using my core to slingshot myself forward. Be strong. Be strong…
I tried to walk with purpose. I tried to juggle my fuel and hydration and salt tabs. I tried to think ahead to my next water stop. So many things –
The characters of the audio book drowned out the calculated nature of the second hand. So much time disappearing and fading with the sunlight. Summer to Fall. I marveled at the way the same road has changed with the seasons. I have had the chance to get to know this winding road with its breathtaking view of the mountains and corn fields and cliffs and rivers and trees. I know every twist. I know every turn. I have fallen in love it. I have fallen in love with a road.
5 minute run, 1 minute walk. So far, I have not felt any of the pain that brought about this change. It seems hard to switch back and forth between the motions, but I know I can keep going. It’s not much longer now. You will be strong.
The ebb and flow of discomfort. I am used to it, I guess. This place of becoming stronger. Used to it, but not yet able to celebrate it. Never mind the tears. Never mind that. Bring it. Whatever is next. I don’t feel strong enough yet for the journey ahead of me.
I have not yet mastered my soul.
Will I ever master my soul?
This place of becoming stronger. It takes its toll.
I found the head lamp and turned the light on. The darkness was stealthy, the trees graying to black. I tried not to be unsettled by the distance ahead and the time slipping toward night and the quiet road that seemed too quiet.
I could feel every footstrike through the worn out soles of my cheap, old shoes. I couldn’t avoid the stones in the road in the dark. At least your toes aren’t numb! Keep going. Just keep going. You will be strong, one day. One day, you will be strong.
Another 16 miles was finally turned to memory and footprints in the dust. Everything hurt. Everything was stiff. The tears rolled free. I know there is a runner’s high. Is there a runner’s low? I clambered into a hot bath with Epsom salts. I stretched. I watched my brown dog studying me with concerned eyes.
I laid my head on the pillow, tossed and turned to find a comfortable space. Everything was exhausted and nothing could rest. It was still better than the last few times, though. It was better.
… Am I doing this right?
A few more tears came. I closed my eyes on the fight.
“Someday, you’ll be strong,” I whispered to myself in the darkness. I thought ahead to the next few long runs. Farther. Longer. I smiled to myself. “Bring it. Whatever is next. It’s not too hard. Not for me.”
The alarm rang. I lay there a moment. I could sense it. The change from the depths of night. The world was gray outside the window. A different gray. A darkness fading to rose. Fading to hope.
I opened my eyes.
And then I was strong.