Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
With every step my toes shrivel a bit more, the stress and pressure of bulging blisters is almost too much to bare. I am becoming increasingly aware of my own mortality and morbidity with the slow tick of each quarter mile. A constant stream of "you are strong. you are at peace." and tainted with a bit more negativity "what the fuuuuuck am I doing? why do I willingly do this? what sort of selfish masochist decides to do this?" flash in headlines through my mind. Altering in rhythm with each step.
Tucked quietly between the dense pines, my body feels clunky and clumsy shuffling beneath these stacks of resiliency. I feel a sharp sting of a newly chaffed slice of skin, raw and burning from the sweat. Knowing there will be little relief from this I decide to turn my attention elsewhere. I stare straight ahead of me and dare myself not to look at my watch. Yes, that is as good of a mind trick I can muster, close to 3 hours into my long run. I sometimes let my mind wander, but knowing my sporadic thoughts match the racing zing of each pain signal, I try to remain composed, Noticing nothing other than the pine needles on the ground, I take a big breath in. And slowly release it. I'm not sure how far I've gone, the goal for this run was simply time on my feet, I know if I look at my watch it'll turn the racing thoughts forwards, so I just keep going. Keep going keep going keep going. This repeats in my mind for a bit until I almost subconsciously realize I've calmed down. My body is moving steady and my pace is feeling relaxed and even. My feet, while I probably wouldn't choose to shove them into pointed toe pumps right now, aren't shrieking as they had before; there's a dull ache that is radiating but I believe my brain decided to ignore it.
And so here I am, here I've been, and here I remain. A collective of the past, present, and future all laying within and in front of me. I use the small breeze to feed me energy and calm, letting my brain quietly drink it in. I suck on my last gummy trying to get every last ounce of sugar from its little red body. I hear the gravel under my feet and pretend I am running through the mountains. The gravel, I decide, will be like the rocky tops in the distance. You can always hear small stones dropping from above.
For now, the pines will serve as my peaks. As my mind wanders I start to feel a deep tingle build on my skull. It trickles down my spine and through my arms. My legs feel weightless and gentle. mmmmmmm yep the flow has come. deep peace bubbles from inside my body to the outside, noticeable markers. My arms have goosies and my face covered in a goofy grin. My power has shown me pain and peace. It brought me to moments of self inflicted high and low. I am no longer simply existing within the world. I am a moving, contributing part of it. My sweat falls from my body, my feet rustle the rocks. Within this moment I am not defined by woman or man. I am not supposed to be feeling or doing or being anything. I just am.