My Destination, Running is Medicine -AnnErika White BirdTweet
I could push my body to perform from the time I was young, racing against the second hand on my mom’s count. “Watch me! Mom! Mom! Time me from here to there!” I’d take off, dirt kicking up, gravel rocks under my tennis shoes. She would count and I’d race each race against my time; I’d amaze my young self with my speed.
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