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Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Run, Therefore I Am...A Runner

A nearly permanent crease encircles the long mane of yellow blonde hair...the sign of a serial ponytailer.

The first sign that this is, in fact, a runner.

Skin that still shows its youth but is beginning to betray the youthful zeal of the mind.  There is no denying the infant crows feet that form with every smile.  When the eyebrows are raised, the creases in the forehead overstay their welcome these days.  Shadows of late onset acne and adolescent chickenpox blemish the skin here and there.  An 'x'-shaped scar between the eyebrows, reminders of an active youth...reminders of the need to practice caution :)

Signs of life lived.

The neck, long and slender, bleeds into boney but feminine shoulders.  Clavicles and a sternum that appear to tent-pole the skin that lays taut over them.  Arms are long and lean, matching their leggy counterparts quite well.  Muscled, but not too.  A vein pops from the right forearm with a clenched fist.  The shoulders show their tone from thousands of hours of running, and thousands of minutes of plank pose.  The back, often overlooked, is beginning to show signs of care, signs of strength, finally.  Watching so many others crippled by neglect of the spine has provided enough motivation.

Impossibly slender wrists terminate at spidery fingers with their plain nails and cuticles that would make any esthetician shudder.  But they're strong hands, if dainty.  A small scar on the back of the right hand...a reminder of the need to practice caution while ice skating.

The trunk, long and narrow.  A small but perceptible ripple over the abdomen shows off the fruits of those thousands of minutes of plank pose.  Three small scars near the pelvis are another reminder...that the appendix is an unnecessary organ.  The hips are boyish and narrow, but strong as oxen, and give birth to two long legs.

They are the proving grounds.  These legs show hard work, determination, and heredity.  They tell the world, "I am a runner."  Where once they were soft and shapeless they are now strong and toned.  Quads completely separate from knees, completely separate from calves, completely separate from ankles.  Tendons and muscles clearly identifiable under pale wintery skin.  Proof of the years spent running.  Proof of all the calf raises, lunges, squats, and single-leg dead lifts.  But what feminine legs are absent the blemish of adiposis edematosa (that is, cellulite)?  Certainly not these.  No matter what, the basic femaleness of these legs will always stay true to their heritage.  Cellulite is the bane of all women, small and large.  A good reminder of one's simple humanity.

The knees, scarred by more than a few tumbles, show their wear.  They show it proud.  They are not attractive in the typical sense.  They are boney and formerly knobby.  But they are strong, they are reliable, and they are powerful.

The feet.  Each tendon pops to life, smiling with each footstep.  All those hours and years spent on feet.  All those foot strengthening exercises to get rid of orthotics.  All those balance stances.  All those calluses.  The feet, they are happy.  The faintest signs of bunions make themselves apparent, revealing a former penchant for pointy high heeled shoes...revealing good old heredity.  The nails are painted a vibrant fire-engine red.  A sign of spring.  A sign of sandal season.

But the surest sign of the runner is the drying rack and its daily rotating wardrobe of various stages of sweaty clothing.  The pile of running shoes beside the front door, and the coat closet shoe rack covered in runners of all shades and styles, each in rotation, each for a different purpose, different terrain, different mileage.  The pile of velcro ice packs in the freezer.  The chest of drawers dedicated solely to running clothes.  The row of shelves in the basement housing nothing but running paraphernalia.  The stash of wet wipes under the front seat of the truck.  The yoga mat that lives on the living room floor, used solely for planks and foam rolling.  And the foam roller.  It is a fine piece of furniture, indeed.

I am a runner.  I am me.

I ache, I creak, I hobble at times; I've limped and I've wobbled, too.  But mostly, I run.  The run makes all of that go away; pushes it off until the next morning.  Each day a little easier, each day a little stronger.

This is my body.  This is me.

It is not perfect, it is not brand new.  It is exactly what I want and how I want it.  Perfectly mine.  Perfectly capable.  Perfectly willing to do the work.

I run, therefore I am...a runner.

Paige, out.


Unknown said...

Very nice! Very, very well written. So much of this just rings so very true to my life. I read it thinking "Me, too!"

But two questions: so, you're saying planks are the thing to do, huh? And also, do you paint your toenails to cover up the blue ones?

HappyTrails said...

Ok, your pile O'shoes beats mine, BIG time..... I have some catching up to do!!! :-)

And yes, to sum it up - our strong, able bodies are masterpieces shaped (and scarred) by miles and hours of hard work. :-)

Paige said...

Laura - yep planks are a must for runners! They are an awesome core workout. I've had only two, maybe three, discolored toenails in my running career. I feel pretty lucky!

HappyTrails - Hello!! Great to hear from you guys!

Rachel said...

Beautifully written!

Alene Gone Bad said...

Love this post!

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