Running: An(d) Exercise

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
Trip End Sep 08, 2010

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's the day before Christmas, and while I should be writing some sort of holiday missive with reflections on mistletoe, Santa, and "gifting," instead, I offer as my Christmas gift to readers out there another sort of blog entry about running and exercise. I suppose I could make the link between holiday eating and sweating away the calories, but who wants to read one more, "Feel GUILTY about all those Christmas cookies and pumpkin pie you are eating!" story just before you are about to stuff yourself to point of undoing the top button on your pants? Certainly not me...

So, as the smell of pumpkin pie cooking wafted through my apartment, I took the time today to unpack my box of books. Due to the thumping, vibrating disco that became my bedroom when Oasis, a South Beach-esque outdoor nightclub opened across the street, I moved. Now, I live higher up the mountain in a little neighborhood called Morne Calvert (don't pronounce the t). As often happens when I pack or unpack, I started to go through papers, old journals, etc., and I found one of my writing journals begun long ago when I was part of a regular writing group that got together to do short free-writing exercises. Reading through it, I came across an entry written on Dec. 4, 2006, that I shall call...
                                               "Running: An(d) Exercise"  

On Saturday, I ran. Yes, I ran. Running is not easy for me. My lungs are not accustomed to the rythmic and fast-paced inhale and exhale. My heart doesn't pump blood like a marathoner. My legs, well, they do alright. Mostly, though, it's my mind that slows me down, my mind that screams, "WHY?!" But I challenged myself on Saturday, and I ran a 5K, my first race since the elementary school 100 yd dash.

I have a love hate relationship with running. It is thus: I hate it. I absolutely hate it. The thing itself. The huffing and puffing and straining. The sweat. The heart pounding. The knees lifting. The constant, never-ending motion.

So, where does the love come in? Well, I love the idea of running. The solitude to think. The fact that I don't really require anything to run except perhaps some good shoes. I could run anywhere. Running is the easiest way to be in shape. It requires so little yet so much at the same time. I love the idea of it. And I want, I need to fall in love with the thing itself.

Some mornings I wake up and think, "Yes! Today I am going running!" And I put on my running outfit, lace up my sneakers, and head out the door ready to huff and puff my way over to and along the river for as long as I can.

This day comes along very rarely.

Most days, I simply don't wake up. As I run to the shower, I think, "I'll pound the pavement later today." But later today comes and goes, and my running shoes stay in the closet.

Sometimes I wonder if some things aren't simply meant to remain ideals so that I can admire people who do what I don't have the will to do. Perhaps running isn't my job to do, my ideal to realize. Still, I'm not ready to give up just yet.


Three years later, I live in a place where, in fact, running isn't necessarily the easiest sport to do, and surprisingly, I miss it. Over the past few years, I've actually collected some happy memories of running, times when I've come to appreciate the glory of a body at work - muscles straining, lungs expanding - and enjoy the run. (Finally!) Of course, that was not necessarily the case every day, and getting out the door still required a certain amount of discipline. Now, however, I live in a place where I am technically not supposed to venture afar on foot, which has made me long for running more than I ever imagined possible.

In my old apartment, I was given permission to walk/run up and down my short, heavily-guarded street. Sometimes I laced on the running shoes and ran up and down it, looping through the hotel parking lots along the way to make it last a bit longer. The short stretch was anything but flat, and what I lacked in distance, I figured I made up for in hills. Still, having guards ogle the foreigner struggling up the slope more than once within a 25-minute period was not too appealing.

I am not yet sure about the status of running in my new 'hood, but if I get the clearance, I'll do my best to wake up in the mornings just to have the opportunity to move freely (and quickly) through the Haitian hills. 
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