the street we’ve run a million times

In my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, there is a street that I particularly like to run on.
It’s a four mile course.
Two miles out.
Two miles back.
The quiet street is lined with trees that change with the seasons, in typical midwest fashion.

I’ve run this street across many different lifetimes.

I’ve run it as a high school student.
The four mile loop filling me with pride.

I’ve run it with my dad.
And the two family dogs.
At a faster pace
and with the promise of coffee afterwards.

I’ve run it as a college rower.
When compared to an erg workout
it felt like a piece of cake.

I’ve run it as I’ve trained for a marathon
and several half marathons
and a triathlon.

I’ve run it with biological sisters
And chosen sisters.

I’ve run it with my mom,
gently going back and forth from our playlists
to having heartened conversations.

I’ve run it in the dead of winter,
the cold air piercing my lungs.

I’ve run it in the middle of summer,
the St. Louis humidity so thick, it feels like I’m swimming.

Dad.
Dogs.
Mom.
Sisters.
Sisters.
Sisters.
Winter.
Summer.
Winter.
Summer.

This street is always there. A constant friend through different seasons of my life.

In April, I ran this street with my sisters, my aunt, a cousin, and one of the dogs.

Dogs. Always dogs.

My baby sister and I set off at a clipped pace.
#3 (third sister in the birth order that is), my dad, plus a dog followed.
My older sister, plus my aunt, plus my cousin set about to walk.

It’s no secret that running and I have had quite the relationship.
I used to use running as a way to earn love.
To show the world how strong and worthy I was.
That I was good.

I’m still figuring out where running fits into my life now.
I don’t feel pulled towards long distances anymore.
But sometimes 3 miles feels just right.
Enough to clear my mind.
To loosen my body.
I like how the sweat feels on my skin.
The sensation of my quickened heart beat.
Reminding me that I am very much alive.

This April excursion was the first time that I ran our sacred path since giving up running as a regular form of exercise.

There were several times that I asked my baby sister if she would stop and walk with me.

And she did.

My baby sister,
who has run more half marathons than I can count
whose actual birth-day I remember vividly
who, as a toddler, stood a the top of the stairs and yelled “Who will play with me?”
until one of us emerged from our rooms.

The baby sister that I took care of was taking care of me.

Behind us, #3 was circling back to check in on my dad who had recently recovered from a torn hamstring. She would get a little bit ahead of him, and then turn around, checking to see if he was ok. Her pace is faster now. Her legs stronger.

We ran the whole course like this.
Baby sister walk/running with me.
#3 circling back to check in on my dad.
Older sister + aunt + cousin enjoying the calm energy that only a walk can bring.

Last year, our rhythm was different.
My dad may have circled back to check on one of us.
I might have followed baby sister’s request to walk/run.
We might have run as one big pack.
Or done less mileage.
Or more mileage.

We are always changing. And this particular street has seen it all.

2 dogs
1 dog
8 minute miles
10 minute miles
light rain
threatening heat
clipped pace
walking breaks

I like that this street is our witness.
I like that our roles change as easily as the seasons.
That my dad still buys us coffee afterwards.
That all we need are our running shoes
and the ease of each other’s company.

This street does not care if we walk or run.
It only invites us to be together.

To me, running is no longer about speed and worth.
It is about the rhythm.
My feet hitting the pavement next to someone I love.

walk
run
walk
run
walk
run

all the way home.

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2 thoughts on “the street we’ve run a million times

  1. t0ast3d

    Such a beautiful piece of writing. I too am re-learning now that I am unable to run due to an injury to my plantar fascia. I am very freed by doing walk/fast-walk intervals with a girlfriend and while she runs on ahead and circles back I stride, swinging my arms like a toy soldier and inwardly laughing at how ridiculous I must look! There is inner freedom though from learning to exercise for joy rather than demanding achievement. May your street continue to bless you.

    Like

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