6am, a Fall morning, deep breath in, blown out and a mist obscures my eyes. Headphones rammed in, house music selected on my old iPod – click, clip and the club sounds of 1995 flood my ears. Swig of water and bottle thrown into the car, beep beep, car is locked. Hat pulled down, heart rate monitor adjusted around my chest; headlamp switched on, and its sickly light seeps across the gloom of a creeping dawn. Watch clicked on, it lights up, Select – “RUN”, click.
The darkness envelopes me and I strike off into the black. Leg strides out, foot hits the ground, crunch. Breath flows in, breath hisses out, crunch, arm pendulums back from my shoulder, it drives forward again, foot crunch. The icy breeze bites my skin, crunch. I glide through the ink, tinges of orange crinkle around its edge, illuminating the horizon, as the sun starts its climb.
My pace quickens, my breath in synch, the first tendrils of sweat bead across my brow and back. Feet snap out and back, thigh muscles tense and relax in relay with my calves, they are in motion and free. Crunch, I hit the trail, crackle I hit the leaves. Surging deeper into the morning light, I can now see the trees, as they come into focus and glow gold, the sun seeping through their branches. Miles tick by, 1, 2, 3, 4 …… The rhythm is soothing, seducing my frenetic mind, it falls silent. All I hear is my breath coming thick and fast, in time to the building music in my ears. I feel calm, connected and at one for a fleeting moment with my consciousness, my body and nature. It feels easy and natural and exactly where I should be. ALWAYS. The adrenaline is hitting my system and I am rising up out of my body and I float above the effort, I drive even harder, miles 5,6,7,8, at times I want to hurt, I want to blast every ounce of energy and give it to my body and let it flood around me, seeping into the earth, feeding the trees and plants and absorbed by the light, ready to cycle back around when I need it most. Water starts to run down my back, my chest, my head, collecting in the creases of my joints, pooling until it flies to the floor from exertion, my shirt is stuck to me, crushing me, as I force the last filaments of energy out. Miles 9, 10, 11 I am almost running “all out”, I check back that last 10%, stride, thump, crunch, swing, breath, drip, 1995 boom boom boom, My heart is racing, my shoulders start to ache, the pain in my legs heats up. Mile 12, time to put it all out, every fiber screams, the warmth is almost unbearable, the fog descends, a metallic taste rises in my mouth, my blood rushes in my ears, suffocating the crescendo of the happy hardcore sounds competing for my attention. Tick tick tick the meters on my watch count down, 800m to go, 400m to go 200m. Kelly run, run hard, sprint if you can, until NOTHINGNESS, click, 12 miles. STOP.
I slump, hands pressing hard on my knees I am breathing with such force, it is painful. The morning has risen to warm my already steaming back, licking away the sweat as it drives from my skin through my shirt and tumbles to the floor, drip drip drip. My heart starts to slow and the metallic taste in my mouth subsides, my eyes clear, and I whisper “fuck” under my breath. The noise in my muscles dies away and I stand up straight. The night has faded and a new day has begun. Other runners have emerged from their nightly hibernation and are tripping past me in groups of 2s and 3s, chatting merrily to the awakening birds.
Click – my headlamp is off, click 1995 disappears, click I open the car door. My day begins.