I stood. My feet: riddled with tiny red spots—burning. My eyes: immediately drawn to the sunbeams bursting through my window. My legs: sore from the five miles yesterday.
A runner’s high, a feeling that has become native to me.
As I tied my sneakers, I knew that today meant another distance run. Huron River Drive: a place that has become my second home.
I wandered up my driveway, turning my headphones up. This climb up the path to the road always prepared me for the five hills of the run. Each marked a mile.
As my feet started to float in my shoes, I felt the momentum of my heart begin to increase. My breath started to speed up. And, as I reached the first hill, the elevation commenced to burn my calves; I felt a runner’s high––a feeling that has become native to me.
I confronted the first hill, and I overheard a flock of birds–– I focused on their sound. I imagined that I was almost following the birds up the hill, trying to keep up with them the best that I could.
As I started to reach the hill’s peak, I saw the family of birds that I had been listening to. There were 10 of them. The mallard ducks soared above me as I ran through the valley in between the first and second hill.
I peered down at my Apple Watch and my pace was faster than it had ever been. I was speechless. This simple yet important exercise helped me run faster than I ever have.
As I entered the next hill, I found myself listening for the birds again. The birds were nowhere in sight. The road was quiet; not even a running squirrel. As I started to feel yesterday’s run once again, I began to think about the birds: pushing and encouraging me.
My pace was increasing again.
As I descended upon the final hill, I was greeted by my mom.
“How was your run, Ailish?” She asked.
“A run I will never forget,” I said.
I meant every one of the words. That run was a breakthrough. The birds helped me realize that letting your mind focus on one thing can sometimes help you achieve something so much greater than you ever thought possible. They also taught me how to be present in the moment.
My running shoes have helped me find myself in many aspects of my life. Whether it be after a long day, a frustrating day, or a sad day, being able to tie my running shoes up and go out for a long run is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Running up the hill is a lot like life. It makes you question why you are doing it, but everyone would be doing it if it was easy.