I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m a runner now. I started running on the treadmill at my Orangetheory classes last year, just thirty seconds or so at a time. And then I kept running, getting up to sixteen slow minutes in class. Then I decided to take it outside in August to see if I wanted to be a runner yet. I’ve been on this road-to-running many times in my life, but maybe this time it would stick. Not that it has to. My dad was an asshole about a lot of things, including “fitness,” but in his old age had mellowed. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it, was the advice he gave me in the past decade or so. If I didn’t enjoy running, I wouldn’t do it.
But I did enjoy it, and I am still enjoying it, and now I’m a runner. I wish I could tell him all about it.
I ran two miles today, after running three and half yesterday and three on Sunday. I’ve got four and a half planned for Friday, since I’ll be traveling and missing my long run on Sunday. I’m on a schedule–Hal Higdon’s base building plan for beginners. I’m a beginner runner, and I love the calendaring of it all, miles written down for the next three months, four runs a week, here we go. I’m signed up for a 5K in March, a 10-miler in June, and the half marathon in October. Today’s two miles are in the bank, a necessary deposit if I’m going to get to 13.1 of them in the fall. Consistent effort over time, as my dad would say.
I’m still riding my bike, though, and I have to say, it’s getting easier as my body gets stronger from running–a definitely good side effect. After today’s run and a quick snack, I hopped on my bike to head up to Roland Park for acupuncture. Acupuncture has helped me through so much insomnia, anxiety, grief, chemo side effects, and more grief, but now we’ve got new things to work on–I’m a runner! I came in with a sore spot on my shin, and left with it gone. What a gift.
And then I rode home. I stopped to snap this picture at 33rd and Oakenshaw. I never rode my bike up here, because it’s not on the way to anywhere I’m ever going, but I run through this neighborhood all the time now. I live south of here, and I want to start my runs uphill so I can end on a downhill, the opposite of most bike commutes I make. As my long runs have gotten longer (up to six miles!), I’m making it through Oakenshaw and up around and through Guilford toward Roland Park. It is hard to believe these places are still Baltimore, especially when I circle around and back down on Greenmount or through Waverly. Just a block apart, two entirely different worlds.
It’s scandalous. And I know this history well from reading and talking and thinking, but running puts it all right in front of me in a different way. When I look at my maps on my running app I can see how close these places are. The lives lived on either side of the line are so different, completely and utterly different life chances, one side dependent for theirs on the deprivation of others. These neighborhoods are intimately connected even as they don’t always see each other.
And then I was back on my bike, a quick pedal home, reminded again of the importance of paying attention to what is between here and there. I’m happy to have added a modality to do just that.