Last night, I sat on the couch with my dad, drinking cold ones and watching #SB15 replays on the NFL Network (it will never get old). And I don't quite know what motivated it, but I started thinking about running and how much I used to love it.
I started thinking about the year before I moved to Pittsburgh and how my morning runs helped me to figure it all out - my time of prayer and meditation; my time to clear my head and find clarity; my time with just me, the sound of me feet on the pavement, and that seductive ribbon of road.
And then I thought about my time in Pittsburgh and how proud I was when I finally started conquering those ubiquitous hills, the exultation I felt when I would crest the top - heart pounding, lungs burning, legs shaking - and keep pushing on past the hurt until I felt like I could fly. I thought about the searing anguish that I had while I worked through the grieving process that whole year knowing my Nonna was slipping away and how running helped me conquer that hideous strength.
Running has always been my escape; my way of working through any and all problems I may have. It has been a glorious release from the stress I carry in my shoulders and on my mind. It was the thing that was always there - like an old friend, the road didn't care how long I had been away, it was just happy to reconnect. It was the thing I could always return to.
Until I didn't. Until I overstressed my IT Band and was crippled on the side of South Street in Harwich Port one August morning in 2011. Since then, except for a few disastrous attempts, I've mostly avoided running, scared shitless that that piercing pain will return and I'll damage my knee(s).
But, here's the thing, last night I got on my mom's treadmill and tentatively started easing myself back into it....a speedwalk here, a jaunty jog there, a full-on sprint for 30 seconds once I warmed up. I stayed on the treadmill for 45 minutes, covering a total of 3 miles. Yes, it's a slow start. Yes, that's only a fraction of what I used to be able to run. Yet, I wasn't discouraged. I was so thrilled that I got off the treadmill with no hint of the familiar tightening along the outside of my knee.
Who knows if the smooth crooning of Busta Rhymes through my earbuds helped me to block everything else from my mind, but today I am thankful. Today I am strong. Today I am taking the first step.