HOME IS A CASTLE OF STORIES

RUNNING FOR LIFE



6 a.m. Thursday. Last week.  

I down a mug of coffee. I slide into a tracksuit and throw a hoodie over my clean-shaven head. At the doorway, I fasten the laces of my sport shoes. It’s mildly dark outside, but I can perceive the pathway to the gate. I slip out of the compound unnoticed. I bowl clean air into my lungs, full and heavy, then break into a jog, my pace steadily increasing as I cut corners and jump through water-filled potholes. A stray dog moves out of my path.

It’s misty, like most mornings, but today, there’s something different. I feel different. Months gone, I couldn’t run a kilometre without stopping to catch my breath, but today, I feel as if I got a new set of lungs, Eliud Kipchoge’s lungs. I could run forever.

There’s no massive goal to my running. I don’t do it because I have lofty dreams of winning medals or setting records, my body isn’t built for that. I only got serious with running because most people I admire do run. One of them wrote, ‘at one point you’re going to start running. It’s one of the best habits you will ever develop. Running will teach you discipline and concentration. It will help clear your thoughts. 

I like challenges and going out of my comfort zone, thus a year ago I incorporated running into my extremely busy schedule. Hitherto, I didn’t have any connection to the craft. I ran only because it made me sweat. Little did I know there’s more to it than just legs in shoes, bouncing over the ground and covering distance. Honestly, I kept running and it has grown into a habit. And like most things we do habitually, we become good at them. I’ve been slogging on like a tractor on the hillside, slow but certain of hitting the peak.

Last week, something magical happened. I covered a kilometre in about 6 minutes. I took a breather and looked around me. Early mornings are beautiful. The colloquial, ‘the early bird catches the worm’ made sense. The silence, the mist, solitude, golden rays in the far east, every worm would be dozing, capture would be easy as digestion.

I approached my second kilometre. My pace still steady. Suddenly, I felt my body let go. I can’t capture the moment purely and honestly enough. It was as if I was one with nature, my body floating through time. My eyes fixated on the murram flowing away below me, I kept going and going and going. After a while, I stopped to check my running app, I had covered five kilometres. Five kms. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I did not feel tired, my legs felt fresh as daises or whatever is fresh. I stood there, cold air on my nostrils, feeling free, joyous, happy, the world could end at that point and I would be okay. Every cell and part of me felt alive.

As I jogged back home, I realised what had just happened. I’d hit nirvana. I’d scaled the top summits of human possibility, and experienced altered consciousness. The feeling through the run was eruptious like an orgasm but had more essence to it. The five kilometres I had covered in a blur, felt like a meditation, a prayer of sorts. I’d completely lost track of time and body fatigue. I could keep on going, forever, into the horizon and unknown vistas. It’s similar to a feeling I get when I’m writing something which purely engulfs me, swallowing me in adrenaline.

For a few electric minutes, in that cold morning run, my conscious elevated. It’s a place I only get to when I meditate, when I do the Wim Hoff breathing technique and writing. Making love never takes me there, or maybe I’m yet to meet a belle who will blow my mind off. But now, with running, I think it’s another way to access our subconscious.

Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about my running history. Then it hit me, I don’t remember the exact moment I started running. I don’t remember a lot of things. I don’t remember things I write. I forget names and faces. I don’t even recall my first kiss; I am that guy. There were two chicks around that time, the dawn of my teens. 

Of the two, I don’t remember who I kissed first. It’s something which haunts me, I will die without knowing my first kiss. It’s an indictment of my terrible memory. I run into folks in night clubs, they shake my hands with gusto, shouting over music, “Osoch, habari!!!” I scan their faces as terminator would. I try to place them; I rack my head, nothing comes up. For the rest of the night, I am forced to call them, ‘kiongozi.’

My first kiss happened in the village. Of the two chicks, one of them got married straight from high school I gather. Trusted sources say that she hammered a strong D+. and perhaps sensing that the future might be bleak, she fell into the arms of an equally young police officer. I hope he ain’t reading this, you can’t trust men with guns.

I wonder how their marriage works though. Because they’re young, screaming young, younger than me. What do they talk about at night? Maybe he interrogates her.

“Nyaboke*!! Who was your first kiss?”

“You were my first, Afande.”

“No no, you’re lying, when I kiss you, I can sense that someone was there. Who was it!”
“There was nobody, sweetie pie, you found me a virgin.”

“I’m not talking about down there, I mean your lips, I can feel a lingering presence whenever I kiss you. It’s a man, he seems to like telling stories. I will find that mischevious man!”

“Please, it’s nobody.”

“Are you trying to protect him? Do you want to leave me?”

“No, dear husband.”

“Make me some tea!”

Anyway, I don’t understand why that chick got married early. She comes from a solid family. She could carve her way through the education system if she wanted to, a certificate, then a diploma, step by step. But then, maybe she has plans of her own, plans we know not. She knows a secret about marriage. Sometime last year, she texted me, I blocked her. I don’t wish to get myself into anything where a chap with a gun is involved. My mum needs me alive a bit longer.

The other chick, I don’t know what happened to her. She just fell off the face of the earth. I haven’t seen in a decade.

Sorry. I digressed. This story was about running.

Anyway, last week, I think I reached the holy grail of running. It now makes sense when Eliud Kipchoge talks of running with his mind and never the body. The body is just a vessel which executes commands, the mind is the engine. I’ll keep on running, chasing this high.

I think of the military messenger who collapsed and died after running 42 km to report victory over the Persians. He was the lone pioneer of human possibility. He set the pace for almost all our endeavours. Normally, our body gives warnings when you’re pushing it too far, but when you ignore the warnings and cross the rubicon, you’re in wonderland. Nirvana. That’s why he died in an instant, his body had reached the limit but he couldn’t disengage his mind, because the running felt too good, and there was a message to be delivered. Trust me when you cross that threshold, you could keep on going forever, I wanted to, but rationality prevailed.

Running, like most of my stuff, I do it alone. I’m not a group guy. Honestly, I can only stand being around many people for so long, it’s not my thing. Recently, this bird wished to run with me, I let her, only because she’s hot. Hot chicks get away with a lot of shit. And also, because one of my boys, a mutual friend, would run with us. I did not want anything mischievous happening on the run.

Morning runs are decluttering. I watch humanity fly past me, appreciating beauty and life. A sleepy watchman headed home after a long night. People leaving for work. Overweight, obese and fat kids headed to school, looking serious and ridiculous in jumpers; bored house helps walking them to the picking point. An occasional lethargic dog seeing me approach and scampering away. A man in a suit, cartoonishly massive in the driver’s seat of a V8.

I am one of those chaps who struggle to pay attention. And I’m always doing things which keep me in the moment, singular. I am always chasing a high. That’s why I write. And with running, I discovered, there’s a whole planet I’m yet to explore. I’ll keep on doing this till I can’t no more.

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2 comments:

  1. Morning runs offer a sanctuary for your thoughts,fears...a paradise ,its part of my 2020 resolutions,,so far so good

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  2. Runderful is one word you should be using after finishing youre morning run..I mean,that feeling of OMG I've hella beat this run woouuh..Its great like great..It makes you feel like you got life figured out..
    Anywho the aaaaa story is nice and funny especially the police part������

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