Running and I have the relationship where we don't talk about our relationship.
It's a casual courtship that is striking in how long it's gone on for more or less the same degree of affection. At times, I'm all about it. At other times, I kind of wish it didn't exist.
Ever since I had an affirming dream at age twelve about cross-country practice taking place in the water (??), I decided to give it a go.
I ran one glorious season. By November, I was the only girl left on the squad. I didn't exactly love running without knowing where I was going or how long it'd go on for, but I did enjoy the woods and the feeling of hitting a comfortable stride.
Cross-country fell away in the face of varsity gymnastics and so I turned to winter and spring track. I loved both of the running seasons. But the part I loved was racing and competing at meets. Practice was all about frolicking with my friends in the woods and coming up with infinite inside jokes.
Gymnastics was where the real work lay. Track, that was the fun sport. We'd take the ferry and travel to overnight competitions, and finish second-to-last in the shuttle hurdle relay, but that wasn't the point. There were more important matters, like getting Blizzards at the mall and finding out how many of us could pack into one hotel room.
But you can't really keep up the high jumping and the relay racing as easily as you can long distance. So I've done 5K races since seventh grade. Not with any regularity. And not really with any improvement.
Sometimes, I prepare. I build up my endurance. I attempt a warm-up run on race day. I stretch my legs. Other days, I just show up.
The thing is that I have a hard time taking running seriously. I have no problem with solitude or repetition. I know them well.
But I cannot find the same passion in running that I have felt for gymnastics. It would be nice if my times were faster, and certainly the ability and the work ethic are possible, but so far, nothing has really driven me to tap into them.
Yet I know that regardless, I'll keep running, and racing intermittently, and wanting to die at the end of the race, and then thinking, "That wasn't so bad."
There is one phenomenon, though, that I don't quite understand. At gymnastics meets, I could not stop thinking. My mind worked as hard as my body as I moved on beam, except it tried to work against me.
During a run, whether or not I'm listening to music, I zone out to this place and that place and the stories I imagine telling people.
But in the race, they all go silent. I think about nothing. I try to think about something but it doesn't stick. I want to distract myself into running faster. But everything turns quiet.