Oh, I had another dream that I was running last night. I was somewhere out in the country, and I was surprised that I was running. It felt so familiar, so right, the natural state for my body to be in, like a shark, constantly moving lest it die, I want, need the movement, that movement. I had no idea how far I had gone, I thought it wasn't far, because I hadn't run in so long that I couldn't believe I would have the strength. I approached an underpass, and there was a beautiful blue pool of water surrounded by small smooth stones. There was a woman there, and she said, "if you have made it to here, you're doing damn good." I rounded the pool, the stones crunching under my certain, rhythmic steps, and turned around to head back where I started, feeling so proud. I could feel my hamstrings working, the dull ache of exertion.
I ran off and on in high school, but I started running in earnest when I stopped doing drugs and drinking and smoking cigarettes and pot in the mid to late 80s. I was living in Atlantic City, and one icy bright Sunday morning in January I got up and went to the boardwalk and ran 7 miles without stopping.
A few months ago I was diagnosed with DDD, degenerative disc disease. The doctors telling me to exercise, but not run. "Find something else you like, some other kind of exercise," they say. How easy it is to say it! They hit in me in the face like a spiteful slap, those words.
I could put my head down and cry, I miss it so much. I ran last week on the treadmill at the gym, and oh, the familiar feeling! It felt the same as it ever did, the rhythm, my body and mind one. One. The next day, hurting, my back refusing to straighten without effort or ache, like a hangover, payback for a good time.