I have a lot of boyfriends. (OMG where is she going with this??). There’s Rocco, my very big equine boyfriend. Every day I enter the barn and say, “there he is! How’s my very big boyfriend?” and give him a pat on his giant head. Then there’s Joey, my little tiny feline boyfriend. And Toby, my lab and most loyal of all boyfriends. The point is, I love my animals. They are some of my favorite people.
Today I ran on the dreaded treadmill. It’s my punishment for not running on my lunch break. It’s an okay backup plan, but I complain pretty much every stride I’m on that awful belt. It was no picnic running today. My mood was lousy, and I didn’t want to be there. I was plugged into the TV, and half-heartedly watching the local news, which didn’t help my mood. An elderly man was scammed out of thousands. A body was found in the woods. Someone hit a tree and was trapped in his car for hours before anyone noticed. I was ready to cry “Uncle”, when I saw the cutest thing on the news. It was a segment about letters to Santa. There was a letter written on a shade of purplish-pink paper, which happened to be the same exact color as my tank top. The first sentence read, “Dear Santa, How are your reindeer?” Instantly I liked this little girl. She didn’t start off with a list of demands. Her first priority was the wellbeing of his reindeer. It’s possible, of course, that she only asked this to examine their health and ability to fly her presents directly to her rooftop next week. I chose today to be an optimist, and believe she’s an animal lover like myself. That letter to Santa lifted my spirits, and at mile 3, I finally found my stride.
I am thankful that I have a demanding job, one that keeps my mind occupied for the entire day so that I don’t have time to think about reality. I am thankful that today was particularly busy, and that the whirlwind of business activities kept my mind from zeroing in on the news I received this morning on my way to work. The news that a dear friend was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. News like this is always so devastating, and with the loss of my father from the same disease still so raw in my heart and mind, it was tough news to swallow. Today on the treadmill, my mind began to wander toward this news. I turned the TV on to drown out the sound of my mind. It only worked temporarily, and my mind continued to dwell on the grief. Every stride felt off. I had no rhythm. My body wouldn’t cooperate and the treadmill became my enemy. After the Dear Santa letter I unplugged from the TV and plugged into the iPod for some musical motivation. I cranked it, and tried to drown out the sound of my mind. It still didn’t work, and then I got to thinking...I can’t drown out my mind and think my problems will disappear. And so, when I cranked up the iPod, I cranked up the speed as well. And then, I found my rhythm.
Ronnie, a good friend and running partner of mine once commented on the amount of running I was doing and asked me, “What are you running from?” “Old age!” I joked. Today though, I considered it. Does running really make me healthier? Will I outrun the aging process? Will I outrun cancer? Even Bill Rodgers, one of the greatest American distance runners of the century, couldn’t outrun cancer. Does running at least stack the deck in my favor? I choose to believe my healthy lifestyle will create longevity, but also realized that’s not why I run. I jacked up the speed more on the treadmill and powered on. Suddenly I didn’t want to stop. The complaining in my head was gone. I no longer stared at the digits on the treadmill display, increasing ever so slowly. And at some point I realized my mind was free. There was no anxiety, no grief, no pain. This is why I run. I’m not running from anything. I’m chasing peace of mind. There's no magic formula to find peace. Some days my mind instantly finds peace and the whole run is pleasant. Today, I found peace at the 4.56 mile mark on the dreadmill.