When I was a kid my dad made me run. I remember grey roads with trees on either side and I remember the smell of grass, a sharp tang when it’s freshly cut. I didn’t take to it. He was a sprinter at university and I remember all his medals dangling and chiming together. I could taste the metal whenever I looked at them. ‘Gold’ but it wasn’t gold. They were all bronze, just painted a different colour. I was never an athletic child. I was ambivalent towards it and I never cared for it as passionately as some people I know do. As I grew up I noticed that I had started expressing a liking for several ‘sporty’ activities and I realised that it was because of my dad. He never spoke very much, not even to my mother and the physical activities felt like one of the only things that tethered us. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t know who he is. If he ever reads this I think that will make him sad. But it’s true.
I have started running. I do it for the pain. I do it until each step is painful but I keep going. Look at the sky. Look at the ground, at my moving feet. It feels like the only thing that exists when I’m doing it. I do it until I want to scream, until drawing breath is painful, until I can’t think of anything but the pain. That’s when I grit my teeth and will it back. I push it back, straining against it and fighting it. And then I stand and let the light relief of resting limbs flood back like a river coursing through my entire body.
A blue haze engulfs me in the middle of the street.
There are no people when you are running. No faces to puzzle over, no feelings to decipher. No monitoring your face, what you say.
Just pure physical pain that you need to conquer.
Just one step after another. On and on. Fighting.