I'm a runner.
I've been a runner since the first time I set foot in Central Park, about six years ago now, clad in running shoes, for my very first venture around the loops that would end up being my first, and favorite, running home, and I suspect I'll be a runner for a long time to come. I've run two half marathons and a handful of other races. I've run in good weather and bad weather and downright dismal weather. I've had good runs and bad runs and runs where I wanted to lay right down on the pavement and never get up. I've run at all times of the day and night, and during all four seasons.
I've run a lot.
But of all the runs that I have done, my favorite ones have been the ones that happen in the morning. Walking out the door while the world is still sleeping, the air is cool, the sun is rising, and the neighborhood is silent is magic. The jangle of my alarm at that hour is never a welcome interruption, but by the time I get outside, I'm always glad to be there. For years now, a morning run has been the best way I know to greet the day. That hour at dawn belongs to me, and when I'm running through my neighborhood I am the only person alive, which is exactly how I like it. For that hour I feel unburdened, wild and free and like I could do anything in the world.
More than anything, running at dawn makes me feel fierce and makes me feel at peace; a heady juxtaposition of emotions that I can never get enough of.
It's been awhile though, since I've felt it. 28 weeks to be exact.
I managed to run through the first few weeks of being pregnant, but with ferocious morning sickness that lasted 24 hours a day for almost 20 weeks and exhaustion the likes of which I have never experienced, I had to slow it down. And once I felt better, a small complication put running straight on my doctor's "absolutely do not do" list, and once that complication was resolved, it had just been too long for me to start running again and be safe all at the time time.
So, despite my hope of being one of those pregnant women you see at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and wonder how in the world she does it and if she's maybe a little crazy, I've been mostly relegated to walking. And walking is nice, but it doesn't exactly give you the same rush of feeling as grinding out the last half mile of a six mile run you thought you would never make it through.
This morning, I left my house at the time I would ordinarily leave it for a morning run, but instead of running I was making a quick trip to the bagel store before work in preparation for the impending holiday weekend. Instead of running shoes and shorts I was wearing flip-flops and a sweatshirt, instead of a water bottle I was carrying car keys, and instead of feeling strong and fierce I was feeling slow and sluggish and every single one of the extra fifteen or so pounds that I am currently carrying around.
But the morning felt exactly the same.
As I drove down the route that I usually run, I could practically feel the morning air on my face like it is when I pound my way down the street, and I knew every curve of that road. And as I made the turn that would take me where I was going, I glanced back at the street and made a silent promise.
I'll be back. As soon as I possibly can
Because I'm a runner.