Running to Freedom

Katherine Ingleright, May 24, 2014

When running had become as habitual to my morning routine as going to the bathroom or drinking a cup of coffee, it dawned on me that I was officially a runner. Although no stranger to athletics, having played competitive volleyball and basketball in my adolescence, running had always been a method of training to enhance my other athletic endeavors. Specifically, I had used running to keep my weight down. I am a formative eater, magnetically pulled towards the scrumptious delicacies of most anything containing vast quantities of carbohydrates. Jumping, agility, speed, and stamina can all take a serious nose dive if carrying around a few pounds of lasagna in my mid-section.

As I grew up and my athletic prowess waned, forsaking sport in pursuit of self destruct ion, my love of pasta stayed firmly intact. Many trials and tribulations later (I mean this quite literally about the trials), I found myself incarcerated and fat. It was pure vanity that got me back on the track. Once I was sentenced there wasn’t really too much I could do about getting unsentenced, but there was no way
I was going to walk out of prison and not be bikini ready. Either I had completely forgotten or I was blissfully ignorant to the other benefits running had to offer me.

Running became a stepping stone to freedom. To finally feel the air coursing through my lungs, blood pumping through my veins, and the energy of life awakening within me; it was as if the barbed wire around my heart melted away and I felt free from myself. The first steps on my path toward freedom from the confines of my soul can sometimes be the most tedious. Shaking off the nightmares of my reality, setting the pace to achieve a buoyant harmony that arises from within and floats me above the gates of despair into pleasurable solitude, I run. Others may be on the track, but I am not sure. I do not see them. I am alone, yet anything but lonely.

Problems do not exist while running. Solutions always found. At mile 8 I become at peace with all the mistakes I have ever made. I am confident in the woman I am today and the person I will continue to be in my future. Around mile 12 I start to tackle local environmental impact issues, specifically the exponential growth of waste. Brilliant solutions such as reduce, reuse, and recycle enter my mind. I smile and chuckle to myself cause I know I’m really onto something. By mile 15 I’ve gone global. I have solved hunger, famine, and malnourishment in third world countries through the redistribution of nonperishable goods and agricultural innovations. Terrorist plots and military aggression have subsided with the introduction of loving kindness Metta meditations into training. World peace anyone?  My thoughts begin to wander to electromagnetic fields and alternative energy sources when I hit mile 20.

Why does mile 20 hate me? What did I ever do to mile 20 to make it hate me so much? I want to cry, I want to stop, I want to … work through it and keep going? I specifically said I was running an Ultra marathon. I do not believe I am so delusional that I cannot compute that 30-20=10 more miles to run.  I’m only 2/3 done. It takes me about 2 more miles to shake off the proverbial “whoa is me’s” and realize I’ve got 8 more miles to come full circle and be at peace with myself again. I cannot control someone’s tendency to throw away a Styrofoam coffee cup every morning thus filling our landfills and polluting our waterways. Poverty in foreign nations falls outside my capabilities to cure.

I feel down, until the little light-bulb goes off.  I can fix me.  With 5 miles left until I am the Ultra marathoner whom has never competed in a race outside the gates of prison, I am propelled forward with the absolute certainty that by completing this run, I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.  Contrary to mile-15 euphoria, I know that the problems I am actually able to fix are within me.  With 1 mile remaining, I feel at peace, I feel confident, and I’m also ready to don the bikini!

Now, please pass the lasagna!