The Summer of Run: Because I Loved
I’m working backwards through the essays at this point, but that’s okay. I have a clear sense of where I’m going at the moment.
This is the end of Act 1 of the Epilogue: Because I Loved, which takes place at the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, the last stop on The Summer of Run. The book I reference: Born to Run. The first 4 paragraphs take place as I finish reading the book in Berlin, and realize that my I’ve been running wrong; the last 4 paragraphs take me back to the starting line at the Grandfather Mountain Marathon 13 months later.
In the essay, it all makes sense. Trust me.
I would run because I loved to run. I knew this because I’d been running my whole life. I’d been running from my own fear of failure. As a child, I was so concerned about becoming a laughingstock that I became the class jokester. I would beat everyone to the punch. As I grew up, I was concerned that women wouldn’t like me, so I set about fucking as many as I could without regard to a relationship, feelings, or trust. I would leave the women who loved me – or run them off – before they had a chance to reject me on their own. As I entered the writing profession, I was so worried that I’d be found a fraud that I developed the self-destructive writing persona, patrolling the world with a drunken abandon. If I couldn’t be the best writer, I’d be the best Writer.
I’d run from anything that ever held any value in my life.
My life to that point had been a race from self-created demons, even in the first years of my sobriety. As I finished that book in Berlin, though, I knew my life was going to be something different. The race I would run with the rest of my life wasn’t away from something; instead it would be towards something.
Unlike the identifiable demons of my past, the future finish line had no definition. There was no grand prize. There was no expectation. I was just run because I loved to run, and that — for the first time — was enough.
As the runners gathered under the early morning misty light in the Appalachian mountains, I looked around, a smile on my face. I was silent as the crowd of 450 huddled close to the starting line. I moved to the back, content to experience the race however it unfolded. I wanted to walk around to everyone, grab them by the shoulders, and tell them just to run. That’s the existential nature of humans. We live a singular, lonely existence trapped within our body, experiencing the world as an unconnected person, unable to share that easily with others. Today, that was okay. I didn’t need to share this with everyone.
I stood in the back, tears streaming around my smile, the salty taste of tears slipping into the corners.
“3…2…1…,” the organizer yelled through the bullhorn, before blowing the horn.
Just run, I thought.