Today, I officially crossed the line.
You just never know when that is going to happen. It’s like a surprise party. Once the shock has worn off, you can clearly see all the signs that should have alerted you that something was going to happen. You just didn’t recognize them until everybody jumped up in your face, screaming: SURPRISE! (Got’cha real good, huh?)
I should have known when I opened my eyes this morning. I had been stressed out yesterday and went to bed with a whole lot on my mind, unable to get a really good sleep. Waking up, all I could think about was how much I wanted, no NEEDED to get out there and clear my head. See that right there? The first clue. I went to bed feeling BAD and I saw going for a morning run as something that would make me feel BETTER. Not aspirin. Not a warm soak in the tub. Not a hot cup of tea or (vegan) ice cream. I wanted to RUN. I needed to run.
I only hoped it wouldn’t be too cold. It was 6:15AM, still dark, and the whole world seemed to be asleep.
Checking the weather (the Weather Network app said 2 degrees, plus a girlfriend texted me to say that it was mild outside), I made lunch for my kids and then went to get dressed. I layered up (including the ultra-big headphones to protect my sensitive-and-always-cold ears) and donned the running shoes. With a deep breath, I stepped outside into the cold (but mild) sparkling morning air. It was 7:05AM.
The sun had just started to rise. As I stood in the slushy snow, without my even realizing it, it happened. I crossed over: from mere mortal to serious runner.
This morning was the first time I ever had to shovel a path through the snow before a run. Mortal Me would have turned right around and taken her sleep-deprived body back to bed. Super Me was having none of that. She wanted to get out there BAD. So, path cleared, I picked my way through the wet snow to the street.
The snowplows hadn’t made it yet. The slush was ankle deep. Undaunted, I gingerly crossed to the middle of the road and kept right on stepping. I hailed up one of my neighbours (who looked a bit shocked to see me out there) and made my way to the main street. There, as luck would have it, I found a section of sidewalk a few blocks long that was clear. I claimed that stretch of concrete for my own, and hit the ground running. Literally.
As my feet pounded the ground, and the wind pounded my face, I began to lose myself in the beat (Talib Kweli’s “Get By” didn’t hurt either, I was feeling NO pain) and let my mind flow wherever it wanted. I thought about my long gone friend, Hubert, and how amazed he would be at my progress. I thought about why running is good for our bodies and good for the community. I thought about new (old school) songs I could add to my playlist (I have a 5K tomorrow — I’m going to need Cameo’s “Shake your pants”). I thought about how great it is to get my workout out of the way first thing in the morning, and go off to work having already accomplished something.
Mortal Me was distracted (and embarrassed) by the looks on the faces of the people waiting at the bus stop. I couldn’t even bring myself to run past them, I turned back a few feet away and ran in the other direction. Twice. I recognized that look. A lot of people, especially us African-Caribbean people, make that face when we see people jogging outside in the cold. The look says: “She crazy? Bwoy, mi tell yuh, some people a bin in dis country TOO long!”
Super Me had to admit it: I was crazy! But I was also supremely confident, drunk with my success, amazed at my tenacity, all wonderful, positive, life-affirming feelings. I realized that I am an addict. I had to have that feeling. And no snow or slush or funny looks from strangers was going to stop me.
As I slowed to my cool-down walk, I felt like I was glowing. I know I was smiling. I was brimming with energy as I turned my steps toward home.
The best part was walking into my home, now alive with the sounds of my family. My husband and children were amazed that I had been out there, not just running in the snow but ENJOYING running in the snow. My daughter, 7 years old, hugged my legs and exclaimed: “Mommy! I want to go with you next time!”
Life is good on the other side of the line.