With my nose: running in Great Fall, Virginia
I'm going to run 10 miles now. It's 7 am and 82 degrees and the cicadas are already buzzing like electric castanets filling the tree-tops all along Virginia's W & OD Trail.
With a fistful of half-frozen cherry Powerade, SPF'd to the bone, and absolutely no plan, I set off from the last scrap of pretty Dun Loring, Virginia - a cluster of rose-gobbed, stained glass, picket-fenced Virginia surrounding a oak lined common green that had held the Dun Loring train station until as late as the 70s with its deep eaves and a big leaky wooden water tank pleasant to stand under.
The W & OD, which runs from Washington, DC, 45 miles west through Virginia suburb and gradually into countryside. Even at 7 am it's filling up with bikers - wasp-waisted and surly, runners, herds of walkers.
Setting off, it's always the same. The first step - there's always a first step - and it always seems like you're kidding. There is a second step. Ridiculous. You listen to your steps: crunch crunch crunch on the cinders: what are you thinking? You are choppy, too fast, you take little old lady steps, chop-chop-chop. A glossy beauty lopes by: gleaming brown as wood, cruel sunglasses; tidy shoes; legs all one color. What must you look like? You realize you've forgotten to inhale. That, or you are being water-boarded. You breath in - breathing all the way up into your clavicles, you think about how your lungs fill up your torso. It's good to breathe, you think, and wander away and think about how there really is no good place to get shot, even in the shoulder, because your lungs go all the way up there and....then whoosh you breathe out like a horse, and in again, and all the while crunch crunch crunch.
And your old body, having been under the impression you were merely going for a drive and possibly a stroll, is surprised and not a little indignant at being so misled, having done nothing to you all these years but work and toil and put up with abuse, and now this? - when there is a clear possibility - a danger, in fact, of becoming uncomfortable at some point.
She refuses to believe your story that you and she are a person who runs. Ten miles. Your shoulders are climbing up to your ears - your body trying to get a hold of yourself. You keep up the story. We'll just run out to five and come back. Don't think about 5 miles. Think about your left foot. That's all. And she thinks about your left foot. How perfectly serviceable it is. Even better for being, you know, so really huge. In fact, it's possible there may be some benefit in a surf-board-sized springing off ...and she begins to believe you and the story isn't a lie, it's happening, and you and she are running along crunch crunch crunch, and you've become somebody else.