My mind races into a swirl of emotions forming a tornado inside my chest. If I don’t leave now, I might hyperventilate from the tightening cyclone in my throat. The threat of tears prick my eyes so I quickly lace up my Saucony’s and grab my headphones.
I don’t tell anyone where I’m going, but I pull the door shut with enough force to announce my departure. I like to run at night when I’m upset and danger and threat slink out of the bushes, bodies low to the ground like a cat readying to jump its prey. Me against the world I remind myself. I dare you to mess with me.
I transfer energy to my legs and begin my sprint down the concrete steps and onto the broken sidewalk. The faster I run, the faster the tears stream down my cheeks. The speed of my pace prevents me from sobbing uncontrollably which is one reason to keep my pace closer to a sprint. I’m headed downhill and down the middle of the street to avoid the sidewalk cracks and debris from interfering with my gate. The streetlights illuminate the blossoming branches of the cherry trees. Houses have gone dark, families are in bed, and not a single car passes me. My bare arms tingle. The air is extra crisp, but I don’t shiver.
My mission. My job. My objective is to run fast, so fast that if a cyclist, car, or animal ran in front of me, I wouldn’t be able to maneuver around the obstacle without losing control and wiping out. I tame my emotions through the physical challenges of a late night run. My internal pressure lowers as sweat evaporates through my pores. Slowly my breath evens out and my form relaxes.
I round the 45 degree corner where the road flattens out onto an even section of the pavement. My endorphins kick in and chase the hysteria out of my head, loosening the grip on my chest. I slow to a tempo pace. Problems that at first felt insurmountable and painful lose intensity. Solutions float into my consciousness and gratitude seeps through my core to the soles of my feet, anchoring me to the earth.
Running is my therapist.