Last night I ran around a section near my childhood home (a section being a square mile of land). I parked my car at my former church and warmed up in the silent parking lot. The sun blazed in my eyes as I huffed and puffed the first mile. As usual, I wondered why I was torturing myself again. But I settled into a nice, easy rhythm, and turned the corner onto the next mile road and into the shade. The humid air sunk in around me, redolent with sweet poplar sap.
How many times have I driven these roads? First, in the back of Mom’s minivan to and from Grandma’s house, and church. Then, I’d drive myself to youth group and early morning music practices. I know them so well, but on foot they are unfamiliar. Which houses have dogs that might chase? The roads are silent, and I can hear the slightest crash in the bush. Probably a deer, or a bird, but what else?
“I’ve become such a city girl,” I lament.
Runkeeper tells me I’ve travelled two miles. I begin the third side of my square. The sun has sunk behind the trees, still sweat trickles from the knot of hair on the back of my head. I look up as I pass by the faded red barn, and the complacent cattle on the corner. Three miles. I turn the corner, and can see the ancient evergreens by the church, one mile away. There are dead garter snakes on the road, and I imagine that they raise their heads and nip at my heels as I go past. I close the square, and walk back to my car.
As I showered off at Mom and Dad’s place, I realized just how absurd this seemed. Never, in my childhood years, would I have dreamt about running those gravel paths. They seemed too far to go, even on a bicycle.
Times, they are a changing. I contemplate which miles to combine to run a 10K, or even a half marathon, and I smile. Maybe that is not so impossible after all.