Things that happened on my run this morning:

Two eyes appeared in the light from my headlamp. I stopped. There was a deer, a buck. I paused to watch him and promptly got a sharp bite from some unknown creature under my right arm. It scared the crap out of me- I thought that the buck had bitten me under the arm somehow for just a tiny second. No big deal, just me and ventriloquist teeth buck hanging out in the woods at 6am. I had a good laugh while the buck sauntered off casually like um, that was probably a spider. Which didn’t make me feel any better.

I was sober for around a year when I realized: there is no finish line. (I was running that time too.) I sobbed in relief. I’m a perfectionist which means finding out that I didn’t need to be winning, that there weren’t  medals, gold starts, and A pluses felt so liberating! For the next five years I held that truth close until today. Now I understand there are MANY finish lines. So many. There are things that we finish, things we start, things we restart. So life is basically one big rough draft, with sometimes serious editing. At times finishing is pretty, others we just ugly cry our way over the line and sit down.

We’ve had some rain lately so the trail has a few big puddles. The thing I know is going straight through the middle keeps my feet drier and less muddy. I’m 87% less likely to slip or fall when I just pick my way through the middle. This is like life: we can try to not get ourselves wet and muddy by going around the slip slide-y outside but there are hidden things at the edges. We may not stay totally dry or clean going through the middle, but at least we know what we’re going to get.

I have arthritis in my hips. According to my physical therapist I don’t have much core strength and also a “lazy ass”. I’ve been working to use my hip stability and my glutes. Through years of trying to stay small I put my body in a state of freeze. A lot of my running these days is mechanics- relearning how to use my body properly. Today I was practicing stabilizing and noticed that I hold my stomach in, which is why I can’t get a full deep breath. So from about 35 years ago when I had a round sweet belly to now I’ve tried to make it as flat as possible by putting my abdomen in lockdown. Letting my body move and breathe feels weird. Trying to let it all cooperate requires out loud whispered instructions: stable hips, use your glutes, let go of your belly, arms swing, shoulders relaxed, visualize your legs and feet, look out not down, hang your bones…I feel pretty awkward but I’m practicing and it’s good.

The picture is from this morning on the bridge where I always pause for recognition. On this bridge 6 years ago I prayed for sobriety while I clutched a rock in my hand. I let it plunk down into the water. I wished with all of my heart that I could stop drinking. I can still feel the sorrow I let out of my heart that day, the purity of that wish. I cry sometimes remembering who I was, and with such relief for who I’ve come to be. But this morning I just said thank you.