The sticky heat from the day before has been replaced with a slight drizzle. It falls soft but steady and cools the steamy sweat beads trickling down my cheeks and along my jawbone. The sky is a grayish blue as the sun tries to break through the dense cloud cover.
It's too early for commuters and the drizzle has kept the dog walkers at bay. Days like this, I leave my iPod at home, preferring to absorb the sounds of my solitude. Rather than listen to The Black Eyed Peas, I hear only the steady cadence of breath and the quick pound of a sneaker on asphalt.
These are my favorite mornings. The best way to start my day. If I can begin it running my mind will clear and my body will relax.
It wasn't always a passion. I remember the uphill battle to arrive at this pleasure. Sore joints, twisted ankles, chafed thighs. I couldn't imagine what people were saying when they spoke of a runner's high, but then suddenly, one day I got it. I no longer had to force myself to roll out of bed and perform this torture. It became a joy and a necessity.
And then...I lost it.
I remember the last time I ran. I was about 4 months pregnant with Ainsley. I was already showing and the pressure on my pelvis was just too painful. So I stopped, promising to pick up again once the baby was born. I registered for a jogging stroller and bought larger sports bras to accommodate my new girth.
I never imagined that pregnancy would wreck havoc on my knees. So Ainsley came, and I tried. Multiple times I tried. But my knees just didn't seem up to the task. I saw doctors, did exercises, wore braces. Nothing helped.
And then I was pregnant again, and then I had two kids, and then we moved, and I started a new job, and, and, and...
Time slips away. But I remember those summer mornings in the rain. I remember speeding up as my favorite songs pumped through my headphones. I remember how I felt after running my first 10K. I want that high again.
So, I'm trying again. The knees are better...as mysteriously as the ailment struck me, it seems to be subsiding.
The air is hot and heavy. The clouds move slowly over the rising moon as the day's last drops of light fade away.
My breath is shallow and quick, my footsteps are hard and slow. My legs are moaning, my chest is screaming. My body is already tired from a day of working and mothering and cooking and cleaning. The difference between me as a 33 year old runner and 25 year old runner is astounding. But, this is my time, it's only for me. No breaking up fights, or wiping little bottoms. No cleaning sippy cups or planning direct mail campaigns. No bedtime stories or Dora the Explorer. Day 2 of my comeback is tough, but not as hard as day one. Although, I think I'm still going to be sore tomorrow.