On Running: A Brief Playlist

Last year, after Indy grew too old to take the long hilly walks with me, I started running again. It didn't take too long for me to hurt myself, and I spent my spring and early summer working through physical therapy to strengthen up so I could get back to it. (New Body Rhumba, LCD Soundsystem)

By late summer I was running regularly, and now, late winter, it's part of how I think about myself.

Because there is nothing like running for me. 

I don't run fast. My left knee twinges and probably always will. I have mild bursitis in one hip, but I stretch well, and it certainly isn't getting any worse. My knees won't let me run down my steep hill or even walk down it if I'm going to follow that with a run, so I drive down my hill, park at the bottom, and run the flats of my neighborhood in circuitous routes around parks and schools, along our neighborhood's high street, and past all the ice cream colored row houses. I can run four or five miles without feeling like I'm going to die, and I smile when I run. I do. I am so happy to be running even though I'm lame at it. (Soy Yo, Bomba Estéreo)

It's a love affair, running and me.

When I run, I love the man walking the three legged chihuahua. The guy at the bus stop who always yells "nice Beats" at me, even though they're not Beats, but $35 hand-me-down headphones. My neighborhood's high street: Mexican food, a variety of dim sum, a funny furniture store with velvet covered cabinets, the banh mi shop, the sadly defunct bar that hosted Scott's and my wedding reception, the little bodegas with really good bananas. My friends who live down the hill and their little girl who has a penchant for wearing a unicorn horn on her walk home from preschool. Other friends and neighbors, their cars and waves, their dogs on leashes. Each body I pass carries such a big life. (Billions of Eyes, Lady Lamb)

I run with my head in the air, looking where I'm going, not at my feet. A boy I dated in college used to tease me about walking head-up, never looking at the ground. He couldn't believe I wasn't tripping over everything all the time. The truth is, I trip all the time, he just never witnessed it. I fell down a whole flight of stairs on a family trip to England; I tattooed my thigh with my keys on a fall a few years ago in McLaren Park; I slipped down my deck stairs a couple weeks ago and landed so hard on my right butt cheek that it bruised the entire cheek, resulting in a butt that looked, according to Scott, like a blood orange. I have been well-taught: every horse trainer I've worked with through my life spent with horses has told me that looking down instead of ahead is just looking for a place to fall. So I look ahead, and when I fall, it's a surprise every time. I'm okay with that. (Can't Run But, Paul Simon)

When I run, I hear music in the best way, with my whole body. My breathing is in the rhythm of what I'm listening to, my legs moving with my breath and my heart. I can't think about work or family. I can only think about my run and the music in my ears. I'm consumed by physicality. Dancing is running's only competition. It is a place without a place, a feeling with no home other than my senses. (No Cars Go, Arcade Fire)

When I cross an east-west street on my run, the afternoon sun throws my shadow across the street, long and lean. I've never been lean and I am happy with my round butt, but I like that look of my shadow, too: so strong, striding across the intersection. I love my body, imperfect and aging. It works. (Masterpiece, Big Thief)

I'll keep doing it as long as I can.

Here is the playlist again:

1) New Body Rhumba, LCD Soundsystem

2) Soy Yo, Bomba Estéreo 

3) Billons of Eyes, Lady Lamb

4) Can't Run But, Paul Simon

5) No Cars Go, Arcade Go 

6) Masterpiece, Big Thief

P.S. I've written about my relationship with running before, but fifteen years ago, at a time when I had a very different relationship with my body.


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