My worn-out Nikes smack audibly against the concrete sidewalk, and I can feel every individual oxygen molecule lacerate the inside of my trachea as it travels through my mouth and into my lungs. My calves ache, my mouth is dry and I can feel sweat running down my forehead and into my eyes.
By 6:15 p.m., I’m sitting in my living room gasping for breath while I chug water like a parched fish.
After spending the last six years living a predominantly sedentary life, I’m trying to get back into running. It’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Try as I might, running has never been my favorite pastime. It’s a monotonous chore that feels like you’re slowly feeding your body through a humid meat grinder.
It’s a painful, uncomfortable experience, and for the past few weeks, I don’t think I’ve been able to run more than a mile at any one time. For that matter, I’m not even sure if I’ve made it a full mile.
There were two activities that were a compulsory part of growing up as a Floyd child: Cross country and band. I was so bad at long distance running that, out of six Floyd kids, I was the only one that didn’t have to run cross country in high school, an accomplishment that I still cherish to this day.
But, I have to assume it made my dad feel a little bit disappointed.
My dad loves to run. It’s one of his favorite activities. He still wakes up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. on weekends to run several miles. When I visit my parents in Ohio, he’s usually home by the time I wake up.
“You know, when I was your age I would run five miles after school,” he would say to me and my brother as we played on our “Gamebox” after school. (“It’s called a GameCUBE, Dad.”)
But, I can’t deny that I feel better after I run, and I do think that I missed out by dodging my Floyd-mandated term of service on the Dobyns Bennett cross country team. I feel healthy when I run, and it’s also an activity that I can fit fairly easily into my routine.
Even though my lung capacity is far weaker than it was when I was younger, and I’ve gained a solid layer of fat over the last few years, there’s something purifying about working through the pain to accomplish a tangible goal.