Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Where the Runner Meets the World

I run because I like to sweat. I run on sand, snow, treadmills, dirt trails, tracks, grass, and asphalt. I don’t sleepwalk; I sleeprun. I’m an athlete because I run. I sprint for the breathlessness; I train for the sense of purpose;. I run for the unbelievable smoothness and the clarity of movement that come after 5 or 6 miles, as the pumping of my arms and the cycling of my legs synch up, as I plunge into another 5 or 6. I can’t tell you what three centimeters or six ounces look like but I know what 26.2 miles feels like and that distance is written into the memory of my muscles and bones. I run for the destination and for the trip itself.

I travel because I get restless. I travel to know the sweet Valencian oranges, the reverberating sound of the Islamic call to prayer, the brine of Belgian mussels, the length of a New York City block. I like the authoritative smear of ink on my passport page. I like weeks of travel, months of living in a foreign country, and the weekend that gives you whiplash. I travel for the contrasts, for the grime of the Place de Clichy and for the dreamy, blue magic of a chilly January dusk in the Tuileries. I read snatches of guidebooks, plan trips that might not ever happen. Or they might. I travel to sate the need for escape and it only fuels the addiction. I carry home with me the afternoon in the Pommery champagne caves and the bumpy rickshaw ride and I travel for more of those instants.

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