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I went for a run today.

But – wait – the story doesn’t start there. It starts last week, Wednesday, when I went on a 4 mile walk and then on a 6 mile kayak ride. It was a walk where I sipped a 7-11 slurpee and pondered the Scripture in real life.  It was leisurely. Am I so sedentary to expect the same from the river? I tried to lean back and cross my legs lazily, but instead I found myself paddling hard upstream with half a paddle, periodically sprinting to catch up with my seasoned sister of the island life who was already at the Hansel and Gretel house while i was practically stuck in the tangled cat tails.

You know, it’s even a lie to say the story starts there, on Wednesday. It started nineteen-odd years ago with shinguards up to my thighs. My dad was screaming “Beehive!” while I swarmed a baby soccer ball with a slew of other pint-sized ponytails on a field the size of my thumb. I would never bore you with all of that. We’ll just say it started with the kayaks and such.

The kayak ride was time gloriously spent with my sister and friend. It was adventure and spontaneity. It was rustic and new for me, your mostly city and suburbs kinda kid. It didn’t have to be the beginning of something.  It could’ve just been kayaking. That part, I must herein shift blame, was all Sarah’s fault.

Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t work out. I quit playing soccer in college and I have very mixed feelings about my exit from the sports world. I don’t touch that mix, not with a pole of many feet. Instead, I sit on the couch. Or at my desk. I sit with you at a restaurant, at a hockey game, on the train. It’s not like I’ve got a VIP throne room at every McDonald’s in the Midwest. I just don’t sweat anymore, unless I’m getting really nervous.

While I was out on my kayaking adventure, I kicked a little bitty pebble from the Mountain Athletico: Vulnerable Item Section Number 537, The Athlete’s Mentality.  I used to have this. I think all athlete’s have it. It’s a certain chamber of cognition, a way of processing thoughts that cannot ever fail. It’s the mind that can always accomplish the next squat, sprint to the next tree, or jog the last lap while hollering out “Let’s go girls, we’ve got this!” I’ve lost it, the Athlete’s Mentality. And I used to love it, the touchy emotion which creates the soft spot.

So back to the beginning where we belong. Today I ran.

I just walked straight away out the front door and started jogging down the street in my old black basketball shoes, ball shorts, and a hoodie. I had no idea where I’d turn or how long I’d run. I just went. Ten steps in and I was tired, no kidding, but I ran on. My legs started to itch from the cool air on my warming skin. My podcast began to bore me. I wanted to go home, but I ran anyway. I was nearing my old neighborhood, where I grew up, did all my kid stuff like crawling around in the creek and catching frogs, so I ran over there. I ran around the block, past my old bus stop at Cherry Lane, past the cul-de-sac, past my babysitter, Jill’s house, and my own house where I lived as a kid and planted a tree in the backyard. It towers over the house now. I became tired for the twelfth time and running stopped being any shadow of fun after the neighborhood tour. I tried to set goals. One more block, to the mailbox, sprint to the hydrant, at least walk home. Done. So done.

The whole circuit was – I don’t even want to say. I’m grossly embarrassed. I’m ashamed not to be an athlete anymore. The whole time from door to all over back to door was a little over 1.5 miles.  Eek!  And sure, it felt a little bit good like everyone who actually enjoys working out says it does, but I really only mean a little. Kayaking was far more fun and not even for the boat and the water either.

I think I love(d) soccer for something completely separate from the running and dribbling and passing and scoring. I did love the hitting, but even apart from that. The Athlete’s Mentality is a cool feature of competition, it is – but even that isn’t enough. I think the high for me was hidden in the elements of teamwork and unity and blahblahblah. Running doesn’t have any of that. Running has endorphins; and endorphins make me sweaty but don’t let me hang with my friends.

Maybe none of this is about working out and it’s all about priorities. Mine have surely changed, but do all things physical need to be edged out as a result? I sense that the answer could be no, but it’s a creative little bugger.It’s tough to close out soccer as a season of my fit, atheltic life and craft a new fitness hobby with some of the same wonders and freedoms to share with others.

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