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The moon hung in the sky, a frosted coin.  A hazy halo of fog diffused its light.  I gazed into its beauty and considered running outside by the moonlight and intermittent streetlights, but kept to my date with the treadmill.  I needed some time alone on a stable surface to think and to sweat.  These early morning runs feel like prayer.  I craved the stillness.

I drove up the hill, twisting and turning with each curve in the road.  Somehow, even at this early hour, I ended up behind a slow-moving van.  White and ancient, it moved with glacierlike speed, chugging upwards way below the speed limit.

“Come on, come on,” I muttered.

It has been 4 days since I gave up sugar.  Again.  This is the best I’ve felt in a very long time.  I wanted to get on the moving sidewalk and conquer my miles.

Arriving at the gym, I found only a couple of people there.  A guy in glasses and  a buzzcut next to my favorite treadmill and an older lady with steely colored, tightly permed hair on another one.  They each walked at their own pace, absorbing the news coming from the TVs mounted above the windows.

The sun still slumbered.

I got myself situated on the machine, decreasing the incredible incline some person had left it at what, 8?  I rode the ramp down, down, down, thankful I didn’t get a nosebleed.  I think the most I’ve ever inclined a treadmill is 2.  I want to simulate pavement/asphalt outdoors, not Mt. Everest.  I untangled the Gordian knot of my mp3 player headphones, shoved them into my ears, and took off.

I will state, here and now, that I’ve lost a bit of speed over the last 9 months of being on the injured list.  My per mile pace is slower than I’d like.  But I’m working back up to my race pace.

I did the first 2 miles slow, the third and fourth a little faster.  The fifth mile, which I almost didn’t do at all, I did at my original pace.  My right hip gave me a little trouble.  I stretched after the third and fourth mile, lunging and trunk twists.  I picked it up again.

One thing I’ve learned from all of this is I have to keep moving forward.  If I’m still hurting, I need to keep seeking solutions.  My body is not bad or wrong, but something is “off”.  So far, what’s worked is prayer, massage, chiropractic appointments and stretching.  Lots and lots of stretching.  I’m learning to be open to new methods.  I’m learning just how little I know about my body and how much respect it truly deserves.

I contemplated all these things as I oozed along, the “glow” dripping into my eyes.  Another guy, one I’ve seen around, got on a treadmill a few machines down from me.  I think we got into a friendly debate once about whether the fan should be on or off.  No matter now, since the fan is MIA; hence the ooze.  He ran a little and walked a little, breathing hard.  It seemed as if he was trying to compete with me.  I ignored him.  I’m not there to race, only to run.  My stiffest competition is, and always has been, myself.

I finished with a smile on my face.  The sun was up, the air pinkish with low-lying fog. The runner’s high is real, folks.  I’m living proof.

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