A love story

You are the lover I thought I’d never have – the one I knew I couldn’t keep up with, and the one I knew I’d never be good enough for.

***

I’m not sure what made me try that first time. I don’t remember much about what led me to my old high school track and encouraged me to start running. I’m sure I didn’t have the right shoes or clothes – or even the right idea about what you were or where you would take me. You didn’t care about the details. We ran a quarter of a mile together, one lap around the track, before I needed to rest and that was ok with you. My boyfriend took a photo of me running without me knowing it, and I think he took it because he thought I was beautiful in that moment. I didn’t hate it.

***

I trained for a three-mile race using a plan I found online and printed up. I loved seeing you in this structured sort of way, and checking off your boxes. One day the plan seemed to jump dramatically; it told me to run for 20 minutes without stopping and I thought that seemed too sudden and drastic. I felt unready. I ran for 20 minutes without stopping. I thought: Relationships are like this sometimes.

***

The first time I ever crossed a finish line, I got engaged to a boy on his knee in front of me in a Michigan hat. My nose was running and it was Thanksgiving and everything was happening now. I was dazed and saw faces of my family members coming toward me out of the crowd. My new running stranger-friends cheered. A local reporter asked me questions and there were photos and it was officially a thing. I said yes to him, and yes to you – to being a part of this community and this odd running and racing family. He and I didn’t work out in that way, but my relationship with you grew stronger than ever. Thinking of this moment still riles up all sorts of feelings inside of me. I am glad that the moment exists somewhere now forever, in an old newspaper with my photo on the cover – me in my bib number, my hand over my mouth and the boy on his knee asking me for forever. And you.

***

I ran with you after work one spring afternoon – just a short loop, maybe 3 miles. I was thinking of going the distance with you, but my legs ached and this felt like dying. I had eaten 600 calories that day and I know this because that’s how much I allowed myself every day until dinner. You gave me an ultimatum. Either you or … that other thing. I chose you. I went home and ate pasta with meat sauce because that’s what runners eat, according to my book.

***

In 2007 we ran 26.2 miles together and this is the first moment in my life that I can remember feeling proud of myself. You did that for me, and with me. Afterwards, we took a bath and ate pizza. I wore my medal to work the next day.

***

With you, there is no shame, no embarrassment. You have seen my very weirdest and grossest moments. The Summer of Stomach Issues at Mile Six. The Penthouse magazine I saw on the side of the road and drove back for afterwards so I could give it to my boyfriend. Using my own socks as toilet paper. Vomiting in trash cans. The Most Disgusting Toenails Ever. Twenty mile Sunday runs followed by absolute sloth and gluttony. Tears and temper tantrums and the filthiest words I know how to utter. You love me so much anyway. It is more than a little bit magical.

***

At times, I’ve said: “We are on a break.” Meaning that I still want to see you, but, you know, maybe not as much. Sometimes I feel like I need to be doing other things because other things might be better for me right now. I always love you and sometimes it is too much, because this is what I do – I love too much and too hard even when (especially when) it starts to hurt. It’s not you, it’s me.

We are on a break now, and it has been hard on me because I keep asking myself who I am without regular and specific doses of you. But here’s the reality: You are a part of me. You will never not be a part of me. There is no fear and no loss for me to mourn. There is only love, because this has always been and will always be a love story.

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2 thoughts on “A love story

  1. Carl Weber says:

    [Insert “Some random inspiring quote about loving, letting it go, and loss…”] Great post, it captures the essence of our weird, intimate, frustrating, and close relationship with running. Thanks for writing and putting ideas out in the universe.

    Liked by 1 person

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