In a few minutes I’ll be headed out to door to go running with my friend Golightly, something we have been doing three times a week since August. I haven’t been any good at running ever (I’m slow and in no way competitive, so I’ve never had much urge to get any better in terms of speed or distance), but it’s always been the only sport I’m coordinated enough to participate in without accidentally whacking myself or someone else in the face, breaking a bone, or getting hit in the head with a ball. Pretty much any sports involving balls or ball-whacking implements are right out, as are any sports that require me to balance on any type of foot appliances (skiing, etc.). The one exception to this rule is tennis, a sport at which I am terrible, but which I enjoy because I like to imagine the little yellow ball representing the Faces of My Enemies.
But anyway, running and I are a reluctant pair. I quit for a long time, started again, quit again, started again, got injured, quit again, started again, got injured again, quit again, started again, managed to so far stave off injury with gradual interval training and stretches, and kept apparently going. That brings you up to date.
There are plenty of annoying factors about running that could wind up making me quit again — the fact that I mostly enjoy it only when done on a treadmill, at least in this climate; the fact that I always feel as if I’m only a whisper away from getting the incapacitating shinsplints yet again; the fact that in the gym I’m always surrounded by giant men and 90-lb sorority girls who all seem to be able to run at 9 mph while I am chugging along beside them at what feels like an elephantine 5-6 mph, still amazed that I can even move through space that fast; the fact that sometimes I feel as if all the blood from my body has been squozen up into my neck and face such that the lightest touch could cause it all to come exploding out of my body in a giant, messy gush — but I hope that won’t happen, because in spite of those annoying factors I am loving it right now.
Loving it, actually, in a way I don’t think I ever have before. Every now and then I will catch myself plodding along on the treadmill at my usually glacial pace and I will reach instinctively to the control panel to increase my speed and I will find that suddenly faster feels better, that faster works different muscles and lengthens my stride and maybe faster even creates the tiniest stir in the air around me that I can almost sort of feel against the searing hot flesh of my face, or at least I imagine that I can. What a wonderful surprise it sometimes is, to find that I want to run farther and faster, and that I can.