I put on my running gear: Victoria Secret expensive athletic bra, second hand store shorts, my first 5K t-shirt, cotton ankle socks, and then the expensive running shoes I had planned to wear out as I trained for the Free Press half marathon 2 years ago. They still look new. Too bad I never got to use them.
As usual, I forget to put on my Tommy Copper knee compression sleeves. The last time I didn’t take the time to put them on, I wasn’t able to walk down the stairs between floors at work without gripping the railing, wincing at each step. So I take the time now, knowing I’ll thank myself later. Finally, I slip the heart monitor around my ribs connect the ends, then push it over my sternum for optimum heart rate detection.
I put the wrist monitor. I reach under my shirt, wet the sensor with tap water. I grab my iPhone and head out the door, walking and tapping the screen while maintaining a vague awareness of my surroundings. Pandora, on. RunKeeper, set to start. Timer, 30 minutes. I walk briskly to my usual starting point, about three blocks from my house. My phone alerts everyone in listening range that my Miles Davis station is on, so dig it. I glance at my wrist: 96 beats per minute.
I start at a medium pace, making sure my form is good and my feet are hitting the ground flatly with each stride. Eventually, I see other runners. A man in the distance is coming steadily towards me, eyes in front, focused like the rest of us and also moving at a moderate speed. As he gets closer I realize we know each other, and we raise our right hand in silent greeting as we pass. A gesture of respect, an acknowledgement to not break our Zen with small talk.
This has been quite a weekend. I’m not too tired yet, and so my thoughts wander. I admire some morning glories hanging over a wooden fence. What should I do? Is there anything I can do? She’s so alone in this world.
I address the other mind-blowing event that upset my universe. I’m still not sure how to feel about it. How did we never know this? What other secrets did they keep from us? I still can’t put a name to this emotion. Do I ask more questions? Does he have a name? Does she even want to talk about it? I need to know!
Mile one, and I’m already struggling a little. It’s hot, and that means my heart is working harder. I glance at my wrist and read my BPM: 153. I better slow down. The dark, precise shadows of leaves on the sidewalk catch my attention, bristling, threatening. The old nameless anxiety is stirred. Why do I still feel this two years after my brain surgery? Maybe I’ll ask my neurologist next week at my annual post MRI check-up, though she probably won’t know why. Every case is different, she’ll say. Or worse, it’s all in my mind. Which it is, ironically.
I notice the morning glories again, looking like upside down blue umbrellas with white centers. Stunning! Must take a picture and post on Facebook. I ponder what I’ll say in the comments.
I finish my run and walk over the traffic island to get my picture. A little boy is in the driveway shoveling dirt and looks at me suspiciously. I wonder briefly if I should say hello and tell him I just want to take a picture of the flowers on the fence, but then the moment passes. He goes back to shoveling. I take my photo and walk back across the street.