Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Thud, thud. Thud, thud.
constant rhythm of my sneakers slapping the sidewalk as the moonlit
world slides by isn't something I hear; my padded headphones make sure
that I don't hear anything but Begin to Hope. The irresistible rhythm pounding up my legs is something I feel - the shock waves let me sense the unyielding resistance of the sidewalk. My heart pounds in my chest. A fine mist builds along the bridge of my nose. I start to feel a little dizzy, which delights me. The power to run hard enough to feel dizzy makes me feel strong.
Against my better judgement, I allow discipline to fall to the weigh-side - I
give the 'lead' command. My dog knows that our pace is now at her discretion, not mine. Commanding about half the body weight I do and
significantly more muscle mass, she calls my bluff for what it's worth and sets off in front of me at an ambitious sprint. We become a cinnamon and dayglo blur,
bolting as fast as our legs will carry us through my quiet suburban neighborhood below the stars. The blinding pace she's chosen is demanding, and I suppress the urge to satisfy the stitch in my chest with a pause. I feel as if we will lift off at any moment as we hurdle over countless blocks of sidewalk.
Finally, as we reach the mouth of my subdivision, I give the command for her to stop. Even with a big dog, I won't run past the edge of the woods with no street lamps at night. We turn around and go to cool down walk in the grassy stretch behind my house. The grass is misty and the stars are out. The Little Miss periodically stops to sniff miscellaneous items that meet her criteria for interesting. My pulse falls as the balmy evening air sticks to my skin, and I silently thank God for the millionth time for the Florida weather that permits a hearty run in shorts and a tank top in the middle of February. The 79 degree weather is much more forgiving than the cold air that creates the illusion of a lung full of fire most everywhere else this time of year.
As the beads of exclusively cold water join up with each other on my skin for the voyage down my shower drain, I contemplate the gift it is to be able to change into exercise gear and go run. To be young enough, strong enough, and to have the political freedom to go do so. I question my own perception of exercise as a chore. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. Sometimes it's excruciating. Sometimes, yes, as Jess's husband Luau aptly wrote here, getting going is indeed the 'toughest ten minutes of the day'. But somehow, all of those hard feelings melt away when the sneakers are on. When I'm hauling ass, the pain can't catch me. The only feeling that is fast enough to keep pace is the exhilaration of freedom. Wouldn't it be thankless to miss the opportunity to feel that way?