The Uncomfortable Path

June 15, 2017

The sweat. It is wet, hot, and a newfound uncomfortable that is becoming associated with running in the summer time sun. It tickles down my back, like a monster’s hot tongue, slowly licking between my shoulder blades, then on my forehead and pooling up to drip down my temples.

I keep running despite the discomfort

I imagine my legs could just give out at any second and press the souls of my shoes into the ground more firmly then I am used to as I steady my pace. The sun has been following closely behind me and occasionally reaches out touch my shoulders, burning them. I push up a hill, the dreaded incline. It is a test of how much heat my run can handle. The sun illuminates the path around me like a spotlight on my journey. Up the hill, in a small celebration of victory I steady my pace, once again feeling the pressure in my calves releasing and my mind resting. Through the pain and the heat, I can still feel that sense of peace.

And that is what keeps me going.

The heat intensifies. I curse myself for not getting up earlier and promise not to take my runs while the kids are eating their lunch and I can finally escape. I seek the path with the most shade. Lately the answer has been to take the shady path. I round the corner, back into the sun and around the familiar cluster of gravestones, the people whose deaths have become a big part of my newfound livelihood. I pass another runner with the knowing wave, the sharing of a silent nod that we may be crazy. But this is my peace, my escape. I don’t have to convince her. The shady path leads into the woods, the unfamiliar path I am still trying to navigate. My choices are simply to keep pressing on with the sweat and humidity filling my lungs or to run into the unknown, the path that I can’t seem to figure out.

I set off into the woods.

There is a tree that curls up into an “S”shape followed by a down log. S tree, log, check. I try to leave visual breadcrumbs, engraining this path into my brain and making it as easy to follow as the paved ones through the graveyard. The shaded air dries up the sweat on my forehead and the trees block the sun from its hold on my shoulders. I relax, back into my run, and remind myself to look up at the trees above as they shake in harmony with my pace. They are becoming strangely familiar.

So I keep going, into the unknown

I should be used to the unknown by now, isn’t that what being an adult is all about? There are these moments of peace and acceptance where I think I have everything (or just tomorrow) figured out and then there are the days were I am running straight into the shady path to escape the hot pressure of the sun. Even though the woods are a mystery to me, running is not. It is my constant in a life of wild cards and unclear journeys. Someday I want to drive my car straight to the pacific coast drinking in the mountains along the way. Other days I want to swing in the hammock in my back yard to the tune of the birds singing above me. I want to hold my toddlers extra close and savor their soft youth and then I want to take a break from them, and go running. I ran a little farther than I am comfortable with. Maybe an attempt to prove I can navigate. It is easy, right? Just follow the river. Then I turn around to head back, taking the exact route and feeling proud of my extra effort. Somewhere between my victory gloating and my deep thoughts I came to an unfamiliar clearing.

I was lost…but not completely. I was off track.

It was a moment that should have turned into more panic. Calmly I wonder what the last part of the path I remember was and turn around to find it. I have been here before. This lost path, this run, and this mid-point. (I wrote about it last month here) I have been stuck in it lately. It is familiar now, the discomfort of it, the lost feeling, it is where I reside. I was afraid of the heat when I started my running journey last fall. My last attempt at running fizzled out with the summer heat. But this time I keep going; keep running no matter how hot or uncomfortable it makes me feel. But that is all I can do. Run today, run tomorrow, familiarize myself with the path and just keep going as I figure out what is next.


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