It wasn’t until high school that I got a chance to try distance. Running was fun and my cousin and I would run from here to there, ask her mom to pick us up at the end of the route when we’d had enough. I never considered running so far. Two miles stretched on to the next town in my mind, across the world. I only went because she did, and could and wanted to run. If she can run two miles, I can too.
We went out for cross country, for track. I don’t remember anyone I knew in the stands, no overbearing parent on the sidelines even at state. My cousin went each day so I went each day, even on days when I felt like maybe this isn’t for me.
I learned to push my body beyond any place it had ever been. Sweat and breath and the sound of my feet up and down hills from the time I learned what distance was. I would zone out, let my body take over, pull my mind back to a place where I didn’t need it anymore. I created a new life inside one I wanted to change. My only destination was reaching a place beyond the horizon, a place I couldn’t see yet, feet leading the way.
Even past the years counted by grades, I upped mileage. I began to know what a three hour run on a Saturday afternoon meant, understood the value in a fifteen dollar running sock, stored quick carbs in my shorts’ pocket.
I’ve spent this life learning that even though I can’t see very far ahead, I know what lies beyond the place I am now is beauty. Everything I’ve ever needed is on this land that absorbs a foot strike, these trees that discuss whether or not people exist, this sky that disappears me when I look up. I let my mind kick back and listen to the life surrounding me; I trust my body to know the way.
© Ann-erika White Bird 2013