Runner’s High

Up before the sun.

Outside my windows, streetlights shower diffused light down through fog and mist that stalk white beneath the trees. The street is an alternating pattern of shadow and light.

I stand inside my neon-lit bathroom, half-awake now as I braid my hair, pop contacts into my eyes, and yawn. Stumbling through my cottage-sized house, I slip on socks, tie my sneaker laces, stand and stretch into weird triangles and folds, massaging sleep from my muscles.

I step into the inky, early-morning darkness, and my porchlight flashes awake, dispelling shadows from my front lawn. Look left. Look right. Any bears? Skunks? Other critters? The coast looks clear.

It is quiet here on the hill. Cars slumber in their glossy skins, tucked against the curbs. I step off my sidewalk, and my feet find their rhythm. Down the hill, up the street, across the bridge, and over the river. Breathe in. Breathe out. Music blaring.

Hotel lights illuminate haloes of effervescence shifting high in the air. Heavy beats pump out the open door of the fitness center. Somewhere near mile two, my heart and breath and mind settle into the same groove set by my feet and the smooth glide of my muscles.

Some runs hurt. The feet ache. The legs grow heavy. The lungs burn. The heartbeat soars.

But some runs coalesce right here–where my skin tingles and I feel each electric movement of my quads. Where the lungs expand with marvelous efficiency, and a feeling like buoyancy rushes up through me from the tips of my toes to the tingling crown of my head.

I smile and dig a little bit deeper and a little bit faster, racing through the alternating patches of light and dark. Right here, the world disappears, problems diminish, and reality shifts into focus.

I believe it’s called– runner’s high.

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