Thursday, I ran my first track workout since last January.

In the grand scheme of life, 800 meter intervals are of little importance.

But for me, it was a return to something that had for so long defined me and consumed my existence. When I complete these pointless, meaningless sessions, I feel alive. Like I have conquered every demon within me. Crushing them with each pounding footstep.

My last marathon was an emotional but fun and light-hearted first attempt at racing truly alone for the first time.

But this next time, I want to do it for real. To once again truly test my limits. To push harder than I ever have pushed myself before.

It is a form of insanity, I’m well aware.

Every time I step into one of those lanes those familiar butterflies kick in just like they have for the past ten years.

The smell, the feel beneath my shoes, the bright red surrounding me. Every sensory details seems magnified. Larger than life.

And I’m 10 years old again running around only trying not to lose that ice cream sandwich I had just downed with my friends all of 30 minutes before. I’m innocent and naive.

(No one had trained us in appropriate pre-race fuel.)

I’m 14 and completely in shock to have developed some bit of talent, some ability beyond what my middle-school self could have ever comprehended was possible. I’m obedient and hardworking to the point of obsession.

(No one told me it was ok to say enough was enough once in a while.)

I’m 16 and sick (again) and injured (again). I’m confused. Frustrated. Angry.

(No one told me that it was ok that I really needed a break.)

I’m 18 and thinking only of how I wish I hadn’t had that midnight pizza and how I just don’t look the way I’m supposed to. I’m wishing harder than ever for an invisibility cloak.

(No one came and handed me one. Or better yet, told me I didn’t need one.)

But on Thursday, mostly I was 20. Still learning, still making so many mistakes, still filled like a Matryoshka doll with all those former selves.

Panting, sweating, neurotically checking splits every 100 meters to make sure I am running like a perfectly paced metronome.

Out there alone, I realized that each of those little girls stacked inside each other and locked inside my chest has had something to tell me, to teach me, to get me to understand.

I never really needed anyone else to fix things.

The strength was in me all along.*

In the coming weeks as I keep training, I won’t be alone. I’ll have myself from every day, every week, every month, every year behind me coming along too.

And that will be more than enough.






*(Well, maybe someone really should have told us not to have those ice cream sandwiches.)


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