A month or two ago, I started running. Though it’s hard to call it that- the word carries the feeling of speed and wind in the hair, a tinge of exhilaration. My style is something more like a cross between a limp and a shuffle. I feel gravity weighing on me, and all my joints protest against it. I have to buy a gigantic bra with a scaffold inside so that my lactating chest doesn’t fling me off balance.
I persist for the sheer pleasure of leaving the house in the evening and the sweaty little sensation of virtue that blooms in me when it’s done. I love the park where I run, down a damp green avenue of European trees (everyone else in my family would be able to name their species) that sway and sigh in the wind. I love the fat and solitary goose that sits on his wooden pontoon in the middle of the pond, and the ordered little family of ducks that swim across it, one after the other. There is a couple of young lovers whose idea of a hot date is to head off with their fishing rods to try their luck here too. The playground is always full of kids, though mine are long in bed.
Marcin runs too, on the nights when I don’t. It was his idea first, and he is far ahead of me in the distance he runs and the pleasure he takes in it. He has a heart monitor and a watch which tells him how many calories he’s burned, and he always reports back on how real runners mistake him for one of their own and give him a laconic, gadget-based greeting.
I try to distract myself from the actual physical act I am performing with admiration of my surroundings. I have picked running because I have to do something, and it’s cheap and uncomplicated. My body, however, doesn’t necessarily agree that this is a good idea. I seem to be lacking some centrifugal force that the beautiful runners (the ones who look like they’re moving on springs) possess- none of my body parts agree on the direction they are heading.
Even at my very fittest, I have never been a runner, so I don’t expect much besides a little aerobic buzz. Then one day, a miracle takes place. Instead of checking my watch every 2 seconds to see if I’m allowed to stop yet, I find my 4 minutes is up before I know it. My organism synchronises with itself, and I am hypnotised by the sound and rhythm of my feet hitting the ground. At last I understand why people do it. It’s a long way from a marathon, but I taste victory anyway- maybe I am a sporty person, after all.