I let my feet pound into the pavement and with each step all the broken intentions I had fall behind me.  I let this moment of the jog, the sweat and the distance take over.

It looked as though fog was slithering along the black ground- transcending it to greet the huffs coming from my mouth. I had so much to run for. I tagged the lampposts as I glided by.

About a mile. It’s certainly not my best- but it’s probably the most emotional marathon I ever ran, even alone. I wasn’t afraid of the darkness or the shadows. I was afraid of never feeling this burn in my lungs again. My feet stamped the ground, “My Body. My Life. My Body. My Life.” In the past year- the cancer, the loss of the job- for every failed relationship and every gained friend I wanted to imprint something of my own. You can’t fail at running, can you? With each swift breath in or even the millisecond both your feet float above the pavement- you become lighter and more powerful. I flew down the bridge and back up as the beams from passing cars lit my path. I reached my stoplight again and as I slowed down to a jog my brain switched to nasal sensory mode as I smelled the wet leaves and ground reminded me of the long summer afternoons I spent outdoors as a girl.

I never chose to run then- it came so easily in games or in moments of girlish-silliness. The playground equipment begged to be climbed, and I often went inside shooed to the bathroom for a nightly shower. I played hard and daydreamed harder.

At my kindergarten play, (Goldilocks and the Three Bears- to which of course I played Goldie,) my mother took a picture of me running so quickly up the stairs from the bears that there I am in mid-stride and everyone announced I had to be flying. I don’t know at what age I stopped running- perhaps it was the summer that I had heightened awareness of boys and how perfect my curled-under bangs had to be. I stopped caring about the feeling of the burn in my chest or breathing so heavy during a hide and seek game out of pure adrenaline and fear that surely that was the thing that would give me away. 

I suppose then- the burn reminds us of the task: That we are indeed, running. The pain in my lungs told me that as each foot hit the ground I was a size 6 foot closer to my goal and with that? I was able to measure exactly how far I’ve come.

The burn in leaving him in Waconia will last more than a few steps, I’m afraid. No amount of 11pm jogs will take back the things he said, or bridge the gap between what I want and what he offers.

Ironically, a few nights ago I sat with him and listened to an incredible story written by a local author, (Brett Pederson,) about a girl getting in a taxi and leaving someone with all her possessions tangled with her. She lets everything remain in the taxi as she gets off at her stop and only takes her running shoes which encompass the only memory she has completely of herself.

The burn tells me it’s worthwhile. I’ll keep running.