I am a runner. I think. Maybe. Sometimes.
For the last two years I’ve dedicated parts of my day to the beautiful sport we call running. At first it was a limitless exploration of a world I could not have imagined before. A soccer player for 21 years, I discovered the beauty of rebirth into a new sport. A sport that showed potential for growth – challenge – and camaraderie. A sport that made me want to push further – to do more with the body and mind I’ve developed since my birth. Sometimes it has been incredible – pushing me into an ecstasy I can only describe in abstract ideas, thoughts and dreams. Sometimes it has been cruel – dragging me into the pits of my existence and not allowing me to see the other side. Today I write to you relieved – my legs feel good. Tomorrow I may not be so kind – anxious – angry that my legs feel sore, tight and tired. There’s always something around the corner – something you can’t anticipate or plan. We do everything in our power to make it happen the way we imagine it to (recounting and replaying it in our minds before falling asleep) – but sometimes that isn’t quite enough. We lose ourselves. And that’s when we think – where has it all gone? The laughter – the adrenaline – the thrill – the high – the love – it all disappears. We’ve all felt it – been there or someday will be. It’s a beautiful sport – it brutally punishes and grants unforgettable gifts. It makes you cry of joy and sadness. It makes you you and makes me me.
In exile I’ve learned many things. Away from home I ran in new places – with new people. I came across new techniques, philosophies and rituals. I moved to Toronto thinking that I would be ‘ok’ – because I ran. Running means being able to get away – but it also means being able to get in. At first, my experience was difficult. Injured, I was on the periphery. Each step for me was a step towards recovery – each step I hesitated; worried that pain would come again. I still worry. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop. I take the steps to make prevent re-injury – but still my mind plays with me – my body reminds me of the scars left behind. In rehabilitating I learned the importance of running with people – how a group – a co-runner can make the ghost pain and worry go away. Running is a social sport. Sometimes.
There is too much to recount – the last year since I’ve written has left me with too many experiences to retell. I could write about my first race in the U of T uniform – my first middle of run washroom emergency in the heart of downtown Toronto – my first warm up at a big meet where I showed up from a warm up only to be told my heat was the next one up – my first competition for a spot on a relay going to nationals – my first taste of the nations ‘top’ runners – etc. I won’t recount. I’ll only tell you that things have happened – amazing things. I came out the other side better. Faster. Not necessarily stronger but smarter. Wanting more. Knowing more – about both my body and the sport. I’ve me the most incredible people – people I know I’ll run into at meets for the rest of my life. Davenport, Denault, Belluzzo, Jake, Cruick, OutHit, Ahmed and many many more… They are newfound friends – brothers in arms. We’ve gone to war. On the track, on the pavement on the town.
Today I find myself in a new stage – building towards summer track. Last year, at this time I injured myself. I still suffer from some of the repercussions today – I still work everyday to overcome the scar tissue left behind. Recently I’ve moved away from obsessing with speed and intensity – I’ve started enjoying the long easy runs prescribed to me by my coach. Started to enjoy the grind – instead of perpetually looking for instant gratification in the form of seconds. I’m here for the long haul. I’m proud to be part of this club – and I hope that all those involved in it know that there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about them – wishing I could be running miles with them. Exiled as I may be – I run with the people I’ve built friendships and bonds with through the sport. It’s an amazing thing happening in Montreal with this group – I wish I could be part of it in the everyday. It warms my heart though to know that they are there – that no matter where I run they are doing the same. That there are others who know where I come from and how hard it is to do what we do. Others to share the glory with and the tears. Others to pick you up when you fall apart. Others to make you better.
I am a runner. I know. No doubt. All the time.