I’ve started smiling when I’m running. I’ll wheeze out the lyrics to some cheesy Christmas song as I jog in the freezing weather. I’ve increased my mileage quite a bit in the past few weeks. I ran six miles yesterday, and last week, I went seven. The only times I stopped were for stoplights. Next week, I’m going nine.
On my long-run days, or even when I’m going for a quick three miles, I get bored pretty quickly. I’ve tried to run with other people, but as my days of cross country have shown, I usually talk so much I get out of breath and have to stop and walk. Music works for a bit, but I just end up tuning it out after a while.
For this reason, I’ve decided to put together a compilation of what I do to keep myself occupied while I’m out and about for an hour and a half. So basically, I’ve provided my internal monologue running from 75th street to Shawnee Mission Parkway and back. You’re welcome.
This is usually when I set my pace and just get comfortable. I shake my arms and legs out and jog a little faster than I normally would–mainly to prevent myself from freezing to death. I’ve gotten into the horrible habit of wearing my “lucky” running tights, which are like two sizes too big. I spend the solid first nine minutes of my run tugging them up, which is extremely annoying, but it beats thinking of what’s to come.
Now that I’m in my actual pace, I’ve slowed down substantially. Bicyclists are passing me. Moms with jog strollers are passing me, Old ladies are passing me. I’ll just kind of give them a sheepish smile and keep on going. They’re probably only going like two and a half miles. I’m running seven. I’m still pretty fresh into my run, so this is the part where I’ll try something stupid, like going way out of my route just to jog past a place I know has reflective windows to check myself out. I’ll regret that later.
I’ve just passed Indian Hills Middle School. I’m instantly plagued with memories from eighth grade, every single bad choice I made in that building comes flooding back to me. I speed up to make myself aware of how much pain I’m in, so I can focus on that instead. There’s an old guy walking really slowly in front of me. I’m too awkward to say anything, so I just kind of hope he’ll hear my footsteps and move out of my way. He doesn’t. When I pass him, he jumps in surprise and nearly falls into the street. I spend the rest of the third mile feeling awful about scaring that poor old man.
I spend this mile celebrating, because it’s basically me reaching the halfway point in my seven-mile run. I pass by several of my friends’ houses, and on a whim, contemplate ding-dong-ditching them. Then, I remember that it’s seven in the morning and decide to stop procrastinating the next three miles and just get on with it.
I wipe my nose with my sleeve. It comes away bloody. I really hate blood. Oh my gosh, I’m going to die. Where am I? Oh dear, I don’t know where I am. They’re going to find my body five years and think, oh, she died from a nosebleed. What an anticlimactic way to go. I probably look like a zombie right now, what if people see me? If this was my actual marathon, I’d have a whole 21 more to go. Why am I still running?
After the blood eventually stops, I’m filled with this sense of peace and joy. First, I didn’t just bleed to death, and second, I’m a solid twenty minutes away from the end of my run. I’m already thinking of the inspirational text post I’m going to put on my Tumblr. It doesn’t even bother me when people pass me anymore. I just ran six miles and I’m still going. How do you like that? I may or may not go out of my route yet again to check out my legs in the reflective windows in the village.
I’m completely numb. I can barely feel my legs moving underneath me, but the only thing I can do is smile. I’m thinking of my dad’s face when I come in an hour and a half later with part of my face caked in blood, and tell him I ran seven miles. Christmas music blasting in my earbuds, I round the last stoplight and sprint to my house. When I stagger inside, my mom is in front of me in an instant.
“How many did you go, sweetie?” she asks me. I hold up seven fingers, and she gasps and embraces me.
I spent the rest of the day laying in bed and eating ice cream. The smile doesn’t leave my lips once. I love running.