running richmond

over time, i've learned to trust that i can be cold in certain ways. i know that feeling on my skin, when the air temperature is low enough that i wish i had another layer but i also know that if i run for long enough, the blood pumping under my skin will create a bubble of warmth around me, so long as i never slow down.

it's hilly where i learned to run. i've learned to not cherish the downhills so much, because i will eventually need to climb right back up. i've learned to love the uphills, because that is how i earn a long cruise on the other side.

in a flat city, i fly over bridges. i take advantage of visiting during a big city race, knowing that many roads will be closed for the benefits of the race entrants. i cruise up long, spiraling on-ramps and dance across the narrow median to skip onto the trails. above me, the sky opens blue with a stiff wind. i call back to the crows, releasing the trill from the back of my throat until i see them hesitate and circle back to look at me.

i careen around a corner, spraying gravel through the curve; unexpectedly, an orange climbing helmet catches the corner of my eye, right before i see the unmistakeable gesture of an arm drawing rope out of its coil. there's a retaining wall holding the hillside together, and i run loops around the trail until i catch the unmistakeable sound of carabiners clinking at someone's hips. in the middle of the city, under the bridge, on the old rail pillars, dozens of college students cling to the flagstone, teaching each other how to tie down their fears.

the river trails are magnetic to me. i pound along them, leaping through bushes to cut corners because i saw an even better long, straight flat that wraps around the bank. i pass a man who paused his trail run to do box jumps on every boulder protecting the trail from a parking lot. i pass dogs. i pass strollers parked next to the canal. i pass hundreds and thousands of runners limping back from the finish line party, shivering in blankets while their friends lead them back to their cars.

i'm warm, and i smile at everyone i pass. when i get back to the parking garage, i skip the elevator, skip the stairs, and run up five stories of ramps because i missed the hills that taught me how to run.

11 November 2018 22:04

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