Spring Sunday: Running as the Days Grow Longer

Spring Sunday: Running as the Days Grow Longer

Ed. Note: When Emily wrote this it was Spring in Telluride. In the meantime we’ve had two storms, and over 2 feet of snow. So, I’ve decided to leave the slider image titled “Snow Sunday.” Her title will continue to say “Spring Sunday.” Hey, it’s Colorado…

When the days grow longer, there’s only one thing I want to do: run. It doesn’t seem to matter that after several months of eating hearty stews and shuffling on ice skates and skis, running feels awkward. And slow. And painful.

No, what seems to matter more is the idea of running. Of moving through the sunshine without the multiple layers of winter. Of feeling the wind in my hair and hearing the trees sough in the wind. Of imagining that I am still as light and quick as I once was.

Of course, the first runs that I design for myself are preposterous. I decide I’m going to run up the Mill Creek road until I hit snow. This goes well until about 2 feet into the thousand foot climb, I realize that I have no leg strength and no wind. I press on. I set aside this time and something in my body thought it would be a good idea, so it must be one. Besides, I need the exercise—I’ve recently spent far too much time parked in front of a computer screen.

IMG_0167I’m running so slowly that a beetle working up the dirt road seems to be making better progress than I am. So slowly that I have time to watch a solitary tree bend one way and then the other, and I’m still trying to get past it. So slowly that I have time to wonder what it is that I actually like about this sport. I mean really, what is fun about dragging up one leg in front of the other, about breathing so hard that it would be easy to believe a lion is pacing back and forth in my chest, sounding out a continual roar?

I start to wonder about all of the things I’m doing in my life right now. Writing a novel. Completing a graduate degree. Teaching high school students. Parenting a 9-year old and a 6-year old. They are all hard. What is this life I’ve set out before me? And can’t any of it be easier? Why do I always choose to do such difficult things?

Eventually, I hit snow and look down at the town I’ve called home for almost fourteen years. There’s snow trying to fall in the valley below; I can see the long gray fingers of the clouds just gracing the brown earth. Up, here, though it’s still totally clear. For just a few more moments, I’m in the sun. I turn and pound down the dirt road, grateful that I get to run the course I’ve set before myself in reverse, grateful that I’m moving down rather than up, and grateful, that at least for the time being, the road before me is easy.

A few days later, I’m hustling to school with Siri, my older daughter. We had a late dinner with friends and left spelling homework until the morning, and now if we don’t somehow reduce a 5-minute walk into a 2-minute one, she’ll get a tardy, a thing which she, as the most rule-abiding member of the family, cannot bear.

“Let’s run,” I say, and the two of us start to crash down the pavement, linking to the connector trail that will carry us to school. The cold air bites at our lungs, and both of us pull our jackets up around our faces, trying to mediate the sting. We reach school, with 30 seconds to spare.
“We made it,” she says, relief spreading into her rosy cheeks.

Hiking back up the hill, towards home, as the morning light fills in my small slice of the world, I realize this is why I run. For moments like this. So that I can sprint with my daughter to school. So that I can still access, if only for a moment, what it felt like to be a child. So that even as I age—my fortieth birthday sitting there like a stump in the trail in a few months, just daring me to trip on it and fall flat on my face—I have something that I can do that makes me feel like myself, that makes me feel light and strong and young, even if the feeling is only an illusion.

1 Comment
  • Janet
    Posted at 11:00h, 03 April

    Wonderful Emily!!!