I run.

This year, I ran a lot. Ran for sheer joy, out of exhaustion, to escape my work life, to find new places, to learn, and to start or end my day. I ran to explore, to test my capabilities, to challenge my mind, and most often, just to be.

To simply be.

The defining moment of this year is not a single moment per se, but a series of moments laced together, all connected by a simple act and a pair of shoes lined up at my bedroom door, waiting for me each day.


It took a long time for me to realize that I was a runner. It took a lot of just running for me to acknowledge that I was a runner – 2 years’ worth of running, in fact.

Now I can’t imagine myself without running.

Just the act of stepping on the earth really lets you feel it, get to know it better. They say that the closer you are to the ground, the more connected you are to the earth. (Perhaps this is another reason why I love handstands and headstands so much…) But in the absense of inversion, running lets you feel the earth.

So many days I just closed my books and put up this sign:

Gone running.

*** *** ***

Tuesday, March 3, 2010. San Mateo.

My toes, covered loosely in my weathered sauconys, expand to grip the pavement below, softly splaying outwards as the impact rolls across the ball of my foot.  The thud rolls through my heal, knee and leg, bending and releasing in an evolutionary precision designed before my simple body walked this earth.

The vernacular ‘pounding the pavement’ sounds heavy, awkward, cumbersome. I’m not so light as to float, nor am I so quick as to scamper like a four-minute miler, but I move. I move efficiently, quickly, steadily.

Running rights the world, putting it in line with my breath, my step, and my feeling.

3 miles.

*** *** ***

Saturday, March 20, 2010. Santa Cruz

What the weather is, I am. When it rains, I run, and the dampness only bothers me until I’m completely soaked, and then it’s just me, the earth, and the running. If I wear the cotton pants, the weight of the water will drag my pant legs downwards and water will slosh in and out of my shoes. So instead, next time, I wear shorts. If it’s cold, I wear the nicer pants – the pants I bought for too much money at yet another store filled with products, products from all over the world, products that no body really needs and I feel guilty for buying them.

But I like them. They are definitely comfortable.

When I think too hard, the relentless drumbeat of my footstep brings my brain back in synch with my body, balancing my thoughts with my movements, all in the present.

5 miles.

*** *** ***

Saturday, April 3, 2010. Lake San Antonio.

Wildflower Training Weekend, San Francisco Triathlon Club. My first 25 mile bike ride. Long, wobbly legs after the hilly bike ride and we’re off, off running through the campground on jello-feet, thudding awkwardly along. I think I understand why they call this a “brick.”

7 miles.

*** *** ***

Tuesday, May 11, 2010. San Francisco.

Track. The weekly circular jogging group – learning how to train faster, quicker, and add speed. My first mile for time: 6:59. Track relays.

5 miles.

*** *** ***

Saturday, June 3, 2010. Pacifica.

Trail Run, Pacifica. 6 miles.

Too fast, too fast! The hills at the end were brutal.

6 miles.

*** *** ***

Sunday, July 11, 2010. Sausalito.

The world cup finale blares on the television. My roommates and I are too excited for worlds. We squeal, jump, and hold our breath for a heart-agonizing 2 hours.

I run off the steam. I run, imagining the soccer players and hearing the vuvuzelas over again in my mind, the buzz drowned out only by the wonderful world cup anthem that is my theme song for nearly the entire summer. I run, imagining the work effort and the dedication of each of the players to the craft of running, and I run, for the simple joy and freedom that is running. I don’t want to stop running.

8 miles.

*** *** ***

Sunday, July 25, 2010, San Francisco. Half Marathon.

I’m up early – very early, 3:30AM, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge from the North, heading into the city with 20,000 other people to participate in the San Francisco Marathon. I’m nervous. It’s my first half marathon. I’ve had 2 cups of water and carry a small amount of food with me. I have an ipod of music prepped for 2.5 hours. My goal is to finish under 2:15, but I’ve never run a half marathon before and I’m going to be happy with whatever comes from my body. I feel prepared. I stretch.

I hate being thirsty, so I carry my water bottle with me. At the last minute, I ditch my sweater and give it to my friend at the starting line. 5:30 AM and the first heat takes off. 6:02 AM and my wave is off.

I run, steadily, telling myself to take it easy. (It’s hard – I’m really excited, and I’m a sprinter by training from 20 years of swimming). I relax into a pace that doesn’t feel too hard and I look at my splits – 9:30’s for the first 3 miles. Not too bad. I settle into a pace and strike up a conversation with someone next to me. We chat for a mile. 4 miles. I work into it – it feels great. I pick up the pace a bit, approaching the bridge. I still feel good.

Somewhere between miles 5 and 8 I miss a mile marker and I don’t track my splits very well. As I’m crossing the bridge back towards the city, I see the mile 9 sign. I check the watch.  1:31. I do some quick math – 9 minute splits? I realize that with a little bit more effort, I can nudge myself under the 2 hour mark. I pick up the pace again. 8:30 for the next mile. AWESOME. Mile 11, 8:45 minutes. Heading into some hills. The last 2 miles are an absolute struggle – my body starts to cramp up, and the training runs I remember doing were all shorter than this distance.

Finish time. 1:57:30. I did it.

Half Marathon.