It's a rainy Saturday morning in October. More appropriate to describe the weather conditions as a deluge. The sky opened up in the late morning and hasn't stopped dumping liquid for hours. On a nearby rail trail, a young woman walks her dog. In the distance, through a misty cloud, she sees a figure moving toward her. As the figure nears, she makes out the form of a man, wearing a hooded windbreaker jacket and pants, moving through the downpour. As they pass on the trail, he smiles and says "Good morning". She shakes her head and moves on.
It's early evening in December. An hour ago, the sun set and the cold black of the New England dark blanketed the land. Evening commuters are traveling home after a long work week. These days, there is less sun. You head to work, sunless, and return home the same. On this evening, there seems to be something else on the roadways. Up ahead, on the shoulder of the road, there appears a bouncing light, moving in concert with several reflective horizontal lines. Headlights illuminate the shape of a hooded runner with flashlight, moving through the darkness.
It's January. Snow is falling in the new year. There is already a couple of inches on the ground. Plowmen are out, digging out their neighbors, trying to keep ahead of the storm. On a residential street, people stay bundled up inside, drinking coffee, watching TV. A woman peers outside at the winter wonderland and spies, through the swirling white - a hooded man running in the snow. He appears to move effortlessly on the snow and ice. Returning to her coffee, she thinks - "Some people are crazy!"
It's 4:45am. A news paper delivery man is startled. Jolted out of his somnambulist-like morning routine by something out-of-place on this day's route. Through the rear-view mirror, he notices a hooded figure, running through the black. Illuminated only by the moon on the horizon and the sparse street lamps on this residential loop.
It's 5 degrees (F). With the wind-chill, it's -16F. Parents are bundled up with their kids, waiting for the school bus. Around the corner comes some nut case in a hooded jacket. His only exposed skin: the few inches around his eyes. As he passes them, his smile is hidden under a tight fitting balaclava.
I used to sit on the couch. I used to mindlessly eat. I was a ridiculous sloth. But I woke up one day and resolved to change that.
Now I'm that guy, running through the rain, snow, dark or cold. I may not be the fastest runner, or the runner covering the most mileage, but I run. Running gives me a feeling that no amount of food, laziness, alcohol or drugs ever could - a feeling of freedom, of accomplishment, of health, of love, of feeling ALIVE.
Maybe someday I'll see you out there.
Until then, I'll run, run run.