I said I was taking a month off running. I made it 22 days.
When I woke up this morning, I never would have thought in a million years that tonight would end off as it has. Over the weekend, I did something to my back and had to bump up my regular chiropractor appointment which wasn't supposed to be until Friday of this week to Wednesday morning (the earliest I could get). Because I'm sore, I opted to take a rest day today from Boot Camp cardio. I did just the video, and rather than bike to work as I have every other Monday this month, I plodded to the bus. Sitting is what kills me when my back is out, so work today was filled with lots of ups and downs to the water cooler and the bathroom to stretch things out. By the end of the day I was feeling better and decided to use up a Groupon deal that I had for the movies and bought a 6:45pm ticket to 'Water for Elephants'. I also had a deal for Running Away Multisport that expired today, so after work I headed over to the store to pick out something nice. I walked around the bikes and shoes and sifted my fingers through the tech gear, salivating over all the expensive equipment. I ended up choosing a pair of rechargeable LED night lights for my bike (an investment that would have set me back a pretty penny without the deal) and made my way over to the movie theater. Since I hadn't planned on seeing a movie and it was definitely dinner time, I decided to hit up the snack bar. I ordered a dry popcorn and diet coke (a BIG treat for me - not exactly "dinner" but oh well!) and found a seat in the dark theater.
The movie was great, the popcorn was salty, and the diet coke hit the spot. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening. As I left the theater and walked out into the dark, humid night, something hit me. I didn't want it to end yet. It was still relatively early, and as I waited for the bus to take me home, it dawned on me. I wanted to run. Like, right now. At 9:30pm.
Deciding not to let the feeling get away from me, I raced home and jumped into my running gear as fast as I could. I laced up my shoes and started my Garmin and practically flew out the door. It was 9:42pm. I shortened my regular 5 minute warm-up walk to 3 minutes and took off on my regular route, by feet pounding the pavement. Yes! It felt SO good.
Now, I NEVER run at night, let alone LATE at night. Usually after work I am so beat, my energy is in the stinker. Getting through a night run can be like pulling teeth for me, so whatever stars aligned tonight I will never know, but I am so grateful for them (although I'm assuming the stars names are "salty carbs" and "caffeine").
The smells are different on a night run - I ran through late night dinners, meat on the BBQ and open restaurant patios. Through stale beer from bars and lingering cigarette smoke from a few lonely souls on the street. I ran past lilac blossoms and the smell of mud. Of garbage that has been sitting all day in the Chicago heat and the moist smell of grass being watered by a leaking hose. Good smells and bad smells - I took it all in, the humid, night air against my face with just the slightest cool breeze.
Tonight I ran with the rabbits. I saw three different bunnies darting in and out of the bushes as I passed, running along-side me in the grass. I smiled and laughed at each one - reminding me that it's ok to be a turtle sometimes too - as long as you keep on going.
The dogs are different at night - as are their owners. And unlike in the morning, where I share the streets with cars and drivers on their way to work - tonight I shared the sidewalks with couples and people sitting out on front stoops enjoying the beautiful weather.
With every corner I turned, my body glistening with sweat, I felt stronger and more alive. I set out to run 3 miles - I ran 3.5 because I could. Tonight I ran after 22 days of not running because I missed it. And I knew that once I missed it badly enough, I would come back to it with a vengeance. But quite honestly, I was scared. I was scared that I WOULDN'T miss it. I had a bad race on May 1st - and honestly, it wasn't that bad - it was just..."hard" - I still set a personal best, but I was disappointed in myself that 3.1 miles felt so darn difficult after having run such a great 8K only a couple weeks earlier. So in a fit of "I don't wanna" I quit. I stopped running and poured my energy into other things, saying I would come back to it when I missed it. Not knowing if the "missing it" would ever happen or not.
I don't know when I will run again, but I do know that it won't be that long until I do. After 22 days away - I can honestly say that running is a part of me because I missed it. I actually missed it. I know now (like, really know, in my soul) that there will be good runs and bad runs. Tonight was a GREAT run. And I can't let the outcome of one race ruin my joy for the sport. Maybe I just don't like racing all that much. And that's ok too.
The bottom line is this (and I am so thrilled I can now say this and truly feel that it is true): My body LOVES to run. And so I will.