Begin Again

On November 3, 2015, I shared this post announcing that I was beginning to run again after months of not running. I did this partly for accountability, but also because I wanted everyone else to join me in pursuing a deferred dream. Let’s do this, I said. TOGETHER, I said.

It was a post aimed at inspiration. I felt

hopeful.

That was 818 days ago.

And I didn’t begin to run again. A few times, sure. Then too many hurdles blocked my way.

The launching of book(s).

The walking of dog(s).

The emptying of nest(s). <—To be fair, it was just the one nest. My only nest. Our best, most-important nest. (And do you notice how even as I write this, I make it sound as if none of it was in my control?)

Anyway, what I’m saying is one thing led to another, and I found myself not-running for two years, two months, and twenty-six days.

In writing group, someone says something along the lines of “I hate running,” to which someone else replies, “everyone hates running” and she’s being hyperbolic (I think she’s being hyperbolic) but the words humming in my own head are

I like to run.

So. Why the hell wasn’t I running? Why had I been wandering around like a ghost, like a shell of myself in our silent house, waiting for Bill to come home from work? I felt

adrift.

I had no desire to do anything or see anyone besides a handful of friends and family, which is a slippery slope for someone like me who’s genetically predisposed to letsjuststayinthehouse-ishness. <—If that’s not a real diagnosis, it should be.

Plus terrible stuff was devastating people close to me. People far from me. Death. Divorce. Discrimination. Disaster <—both natural and human. The news was so damn depressing. Instead of all the joys, I started counting up sadnesses.

What’s your problem, Julie? Who are you to wallow in your own small disappointments? I felt

ungrateful.

And all the while those words kept humming:

I like to run. 

One day, after privatelyhopefullysecretly thinking I might want to try running again (but don’t tell anyone this time, because how embarrassing if you don’t) I get this text from my nephew:

“Quick question: What was your marathon time?”

Turns out he’s thinking about signing up. He’d be much faster than I ever was. But still. Maybe

a sign?

While cleaning the garage, I find in an old pair of Asics covered in mud. I don’t remember owning them, but the shoes I’d been wearing to walk the dog are packed out and awful. So I throw the mystery Asics in the washing machine (with apologies to footwear purists) and the shoes clean up pretty nicely.

A few days pass and I make a playlist on my phone of trusty songs I listened to five years ago when I used to run with an iPod. (I lost the iPod in our house fire, then stopped running with music.)

As a treat, I also download five new songs to spur me. I don’t think too much about the song choices or the lyrics; I don’t think much about anything.

If I think too much, I won’t follow through.

On Sunday afternoon, January 28th, 2018, I pull on my newly-washed old Asics. The dogs look at me like “What do you mean we can’t come?” I feel

selfish.

Outside the wind is howling.

The air temperature hovers at 80 degrees.

I have a full stomach of turkey sandwich.

My house sits on a long, steep hill. To travel anywhere, you go downdowndown and then up.

And up and up.

Stop thinking, Julie. Stop excus-ing.

I press play on Judah and the Lion’s “Suit and Jacket,” then push off.

Down. Down. Down.

“Cause everybody I know, everybody I know, is growing old, is growing old too quickly. And I don’t wanna go, no how am I supposed to slow it down so I can figure out who I am?”

Are you sure you picked this song accidentally, Julie?

At the bottom of the hill, I turn left and the wind blasts my face. I throw open both arms and they blow back as cars drive by and I don’t care that I look ridiculous. The music propels me, and I breathe and push, and then the next song starts.

Blink 182’s “Bored to Death.”

“Back on earth I’m broken. Lost and cold and fading fast. Life is too short to last long.” 

FOR REAL, JULIE? 

I’d been downloading a theme, and I didn’t see it:

Life is short. Time won’t slow for me. We’re growing older and letsjuststayinthehouse-ishness serves no one.

My energy surges and I pick up the pace, stride lengthening, heart pumping. Around the park I continue in the heat and wind, and I don’t stop. This surprises me but I can’t think about it. As I head home, I’m almost flying (except it’s the slowest kind of flying you can imagine). Still, my fists pump to the music, and I sing a little— just a few words, probably too loud—and I look even more ridiculous than before, but I am running, I am running, I am running, and I feel

alive.

***

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13 thoughts on “Begin Again

  1. Sue L

    Lovely Julie! We can always begin again (and again.) Just like the Galway Kinnell poem “The Still Time. xoxo

  2. Yes. Yes, YES.

    This is how I feel about running, except my sentence is “I like to have run.” I love having done it, but the rush is only one run long, so I have to go again to get it.

    Good on ya, Julie C. xoxox

  3. Diane

    What can I say except welcome back and yay! As someone who loves running, I am beyond thrilled that you put on your new old Asics and found yourself pounding the pavement. I look forward to our first run together…you say when and where and I’m there!

  4. Laurel Byrne

    I love this! Running rebirth.

  5. Kim

    Oh this is wonderful. And I still like you even though you like to run.

  6. Bailey

    Love this. Don’t love to run though but nothing makes me feel better than a get HIIT workout. A good workout in the morning sets my day up for awesomeness, although sometimes life knocks that down a few notches as the day goes on. Also, I cannot watch/listen to/read the news right now. I try to surround myself with good people and my Insta account is only following people that inspire me. There are so many good people but there are those awful ones (fewer I’m sure) who really seem to permeate through all the news outlets.

  7. Cortney L. Baird

    Hi Julie,

    Remember me? 🙂 I’ve been reading your posts for almost 2 years now and I just wanted to you to know how much I enjoy reading them and you still being a smile to my face. I look forward and love reading whatever you write and share.

    Maybe, it’s because I remember when I used to see you often and now sadly I don’t anymore, like everyone else I knew before I moved here… but I do still hear your voice and the way you found the positive and the humor in most all of life challenges and no so fun things
    no matter how dark, is what I hear when I read your words and is why I so enjoy reading what you write!

    Thank you! Please say hello to Bill and Linda for me too! Oh and of course Jack and Carly! Xoxo

  8. I like it, too. It helps my brain in a way other workouts don’t. I’m excited to watch you find your stride again 🙂

  9. Heidi

    Love this. Love this so much.

  10. Oh, this makes me all sorts of happy.

    Like you, I like to run. You might even say that I like to run, a lot. Hence my handle. I lose myself in running (though it’s rare for me to use music – while I fancy myself a musician, I need to not expect what’s coming up next — what you had, an old playlist that resurfaced would work, but I need to know the songs, yet be surprised by each one, for the music to do what I need it to do when I’m running — typically I use audiobooks). The first mile ALWAYS sucks – at least for me, so I need the help to concentrate on something, anything, than the fact that I’m running. But then my body starts working as an in-tune machine, and it’s no longer “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot” but a consistent gliding.

    There have been times when I had to stop running, and I didn’t want to. I may use it as an escape, sometimes, more than is healthy.

    Here’s hoping the running thing continues — we still have to meet at a race someday.

  11. I love your pictures and your stories. I used to like running, but it would be cruel to my knees to try again without losing a little more weight first. I can hear the melancholy of your one empty nest, but the hope in the wind pushing your arms back and you breathing into it.

    Let’s stick with the hope, shall we?

  12. Kim

    I love this, like everything you write. And I miss
    you beyond words. XOXO

  13. Your feelings of joy and freedom really came thtough. Thanks for sharing the hope!

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