Running and freedom


Before we get to today’s post I would like to make my plea to you. Please go vote for me. I entered a writing contest and if you would vote for me I would be most appreciative. It’s entered under the name Martin Conterez and you can find the contest here: http://awritersgallery.wordpress.com/category/oct-2013-challenge/

Now for today’s post.

There are a lot of mixed emotions out there about running. I understand those who don’t like it. It’s hard on the body, difficult to do without hurting oneself, and quite frankly it can’t get boring (especially on a treadmill). I don’t generally recommend it for those who are just starting to exercise for many reasons, those included.

But there are a lot of good things about running. It’s an extremely effective exercise. It can raise endorphins and leave one left with quite a sense of accomplishment. It can clear one’s mind, and burn away large amounts of stress for those who enjoy it. There are those that love it from the first step, others learn to love it over time, some never get it (and that’s okay).

I started doing it in the ninth grade. It was something that I did with relative ease, but found some challenge in. I kept doing it for some time because I thought the coach’s daughter was attractive and I thought I could impress her. She graduated unaware of my existence. But by that time I had become rather talented at running and quite accomplished in my own right. So I kept running. I continued my running career into college and even did a few marathons, all the while I kept on shining in my activity of choice.

All of what I’ve written above has nothing to do with why I run today. I run now because it gives me true freedom. It gives me freedom from everything in the world. It gives me freedom from work, family, friends, stress, thinking, dieting, everything that one could possibly think of. I can run almost anywhere but I particularly enjoy dirt paths and secluded trails.

I usually go at lunch because that is the most convenient time for me. On the weekends I chase my pawns around and that is exercise enough. But during the week I get almost no other time that I can feasibly use, so I use my lunch hour to run and then eat at my desk afterwards. The other day I was running along the Potomac river, a particular favorite of mine since the path is wide and generally unencumbered with pedestrian traffic. The view is generally majestic with the many monuments around the nation’s capital. Most important of all it gives me that all important sense of freedom. It is one of the few places in the city where nature is allowed to thrive as it sees fit. Between the wildlife and the foliage I can think of no other place to most appropriately represent my feelings when I’m running.

A perfect example of this would be one of my runs from the other day. I was cresting down the path away from the Lincoln memorial. The sun was high, the air was crisp, and my stride was full. I was swallowing deep breaths and letting my mind wander as it choose. I looked up at some point and I saw a bald eagle. No other animal could have been more appropriate to guide me on my run. The very symbol of freedom for America was now my spirit guide for my run. The eagle was matching my speed with a smooth glide. My arms were matched only by the openness of his wings. The air moved seamlessly over both of us. After several more strides he made a dive for the water and I leaned into my steps to keep with his flow. With a quick flick of his talons he had grabbed a quick snack and soon he was making his ascent. At this time I was digging into my stride and cresting a hill that kept our paths aligned.

I looked up again, and I almost thought I saw him smile. He knew what this moment meant to me, and he approved. Out of the corner of my eye I saw what appeared to be a snowflake. The eagle turned and headed toward his nest. I took the path away from his direction back towards work. As I did this the snowflake drifted seamlessly in front of me. Still hanging in the air and floating away from the eagle it danced in front of me. I followed the final bridge home and waited for the flake to hit the ground, but the wind continued to carry it just in front of me. The eagle had made its way to a nearby tree and gave out a screech that could be heard across the water. It sounded like freedom.

At this point I turned my attention back to the errant flake. It was still floating ever closer to me. SPLURT. It was no snow flake. I now had eagle poop running down my shirt and pants. Do you know how big an eagle poop is? It’s massive, and it’s sloppy. It ran down my clothes. It ran like freedom. The smell was God awful and it hit my nostrils with the fury of a thousand urine cakes. It was atrocious. It smelled like freedom.

This is why I run, because of the freedom it gives me. Now if you’ll excuse me I need another shower.

eagle

Image credit: www.robertotoole.com

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