Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why do I run?

I went for a run last night and my thoughts wandered, as they usually do. But I felt clear and happy with where they led me, so I thought I would record it.

Why do I run?
To remind myself that I am in remission and because I can.

Runners are asked that question all the time -- by friends, family, internet forums, magazines… and for me, mostly myself! Why the heck DO I run? I’ve thought about what my answer to that question is, and my first thoughts are usually, “to stay in shape, keep from being overweight again, and being physically fit for backpacking – cross training for it, in a sense.”

Well, I struggled through what turned out to be an allergy/cold combination last week, but before I knew what it was, I found myself feeling nervous. I was lightheaded and fatigued. I actually “felt” like my blood counts may have been low. I felt that strange fatigue in my legs and throughout my body that reminded me of when I was sick. I was also feeling congested, so I kept making the excuse that it was all because I simply wasn’t feeling well. In the back of my mind I whispered to myself that if I was feeling the same the next week, I’d make an appointment. I’ve made excuses in the past and let simple symptoms pass me by. Was I doing the same now? Thankfully I started to feel better.

I ran a little more than 5 miles last night, and it was pouring rain the entire time. It was a great autumn run. The leaves were flittering down along the paths and sidewalks I ran along, and at times there were bright golden-yellow trees that would drape over the road and made it feel like I was running through a tunnel of heavenly golden light – from every direction -- as the leaves on the trees were still yellow, the sidewalk would be completely covered and the leaves falling around me were all the same bright color. I actually looked at my skin to see if it was reflecting off of me.

The raindrops would land on my face, my arms, my lips and even around my eyes to the point where I had to squint a couple of times when it picked up, but the temperature of the water was so refreshing and cooling I couldn’t help but smile. My running clothes were completely soaked through to the point where I could feel little streams of water running down my legs and my back. There were puddles everywhere, and instead of dodging them, I worked to step into them -- jumping back and forth along my path. I even laughed a couple of times as the splash came up all around me. I felt like I was running in a dream. It was a great run, and I felt really strong. I felt really light and my breathing was almost effortless. I felt very much alive.

I thought to myself, “If I were relapsing, there’s no way I could run like this. Aha! That’s why I run! As a reminder!” I went on thinking… I guess the first place I’d notice a problem would be in my regular physical activity. So I guess there’s a lot of reasons I run. The ones I mentioned earlier, to stay healthy as long as I can to hopefully avoid relapse or other health issues, but mostly to remember where I was, where I can go, and where I am now.

So now when I ask myself, “why do I run?” That is my response. It’s a reminder to myself that I am healthy and that I am in remission from Aplastic Anemia… and because I can.

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