When she was about 8 or 9 years old, my eldest daughter approached me with a simple question. "Mom, next time you go running can I go with you?" So we did. And 8 years later, she has not stopped. Well, she stops to go to school, eat and do homework, watch "Glee" and sleep. But she is a Runner, with a capital R. My other two children shun running. It is "not my thing, Mom." Not to mention the fact that it is "booorrrriinngg" and also involves way too much, well, running.
My husband recently dubbed me "the bible-banger of the book of running", a true proselyte of the sport. Though in defense of myself, I run by example and only rarely recommend it to others. Certainly, I have had no success with 2/3 of my teenaged ducklings, and if we were like that duckling family in that children's book about finding a safe place to live in Boston, I would probably be arrested for duckling neglect when I was off running the Boston marathon.
Since my last marathon, I have been profoundly fatigued. I feel like a morbidly obese T. Rex when I run. Which is to say heavy, with pounding thighs, a thick middle, little wimpy arms and a strange and powerful craving for meat. I likely need to get my hemoglobin checked. Ah, doctors.
But I cannot resist the run. I am not the fastest nor the best dressed nor the one with the most mileage. I often head out without a clear plan beyond "a good, long run, maybe with some fast stuff thrown in". I run at all hours of the day and I sometimes skip running when I put in 16 hours at the hospital and have succumbed to the evil (and, may I add, stale) doctor's lounge donuts. But I cannot resist the run. It is not optional, like water, food, sleep, sex, music and the absolute desire for the safety and health of my children.
I have a favorite Mozart quote, which goes something like this: "I compose music like sows pissing."
Now, listening to Mozart one hardly imagines a urinating pig. But his point, I believe, was that he does it with the ease of a bodily function (not one to be taken for granted--ask any patient on dialysis!) and with the necessity of a bodily function. The ease? Well, he was a genius after all. Certainly his Dad gets a lot of criticism for his overbearing and likely exploitative parenting style. But truly, even without Herr Johann Georg Leopold Mozart lording it over him, I think Wolfgang would've been a sparkly, perfect prophet of classical music.
I wish I was Mozart, except for the living in the 1700's, being a man and dying in my 30's thing. I can relate to his need to do music. And this need for me extends to running. If only someone wanted to pay me well to be a proselytizing musician/runner with the build of a Tyrannosaurus Rex!
I am reading a book right now that was a bestseller 35 years ago or so. Running and Being by Dr. George Sheehan. He says a lot of things about the deeper meaning of running. Some of which touches me, some perhaps a little too over the top for me (being a midwestern, common sense girl at heart). But he does talk about loneliness and how running serves to heal, and takes one off the treadmill of life (no pun intended, but ha ha ha!). Life really is something we try to fill with success and the gathering of stuff and accomplishments, only to realize in the end or somewhere along the way that what is important is not found in our perfection, but rather in our failures and how we still wake up in the morning after those failures, and take our coffee and toast and ablutions and go out to meet the world once again.
And, of course, go for a run.