You live for this, your daily run. You find yourself thinking about it all the time. You have to wonder if it isn’t just another obsession, but even if it is, it’s a good one. You don’t want to give it up. Not because you’re a health fanatic, though you certainly are grateful for the energy and youthfulness you feel from doing it. No, it’s because sometimes, if you’re fast enough, you can outrun them.
You drink strong coffee to connect the synapses in your brain faster. You’ve been told it’s bad for you, but you don’t care. You’ve been there when the sluggishness was coupled with thoughts that surge like breakers, sudden and without warning. You can drown in it. Better to be alert and in control, even if it’s the false control of a strong cup of French roast.
You look out the kitchen window on a day that’s filtered through a green summer haze. It will be hot, so you decide to run early.
You set down your coffee and catch your reflection in the shining glass door of the microwave oven. You’re grateful for baseball caps that can cover the mass of fraying burlap on your head. There’s a certain Sad Sack look about you. You’re not quite sure of yourself, not quite competent, you think, though you’ve been told many times that you are.
“When she sets her mind to something, she really puts herself into it.” That’s what they say about you. And it’s true, you figure. It’s the why of it nobody really understands. It’s the illness they don’t want to see. It’s the drive in your own mind to do the same thing again and again until it’s perfect. It’s never perfect.
You locate your two knee sleeves that keep you from having to be cautious with speed and footing. You find the ear buds that go to your mp3 player, and then you find the player, select a playlist. You make sure the volume is up enough to drown them out. You figure you’ve lost a little hearing because of the blasted thing, but for about an hour, you don’t have to listen to what’s in your head. The incessant thoughts just can’t compete with that level of sound.
Running shoes, chewing gum, shorts, tank shirt, drink of water.
You stop just for a moment to consider the route. Which route? Today you’ll go by the creek on the four-mile loop through the neighborhood. It isn’t your favorite because you are aware of what lies quietly at the bottom of that creek. You know because you put it there.