Everyone has that thing in their lives that is easily more important than sleep. Rex will gladly get up at any hour to go hunting or fishing. Cara will do whatever it takes to hit an early Black Friday sale. For me, sometimes I need to run. So when it was already 1:00 AM and I had to choose between setting my alarm for two extra hours of sleep or the opportunity to run for the first time since getting here, the choice was easy. No hesitation in setting my alarm early.
I’ll warn you that this post isn’t exciting, per se. I’m writing it more for me than you. There aren’t even any pictures. You’ll get a full post of today’s activities later, but I want to remember this run. I need to write it down. Feel free to skip this post if you want – no offense taken. I won’t even know you skipped it.
The sun was rising as I started running down the cobblestone main street of Tann, and it was only about a kilometer before I was out of the town altogether. I passed a church, a hat shop, a pretzel shop…everything looked very stereotypically German. I loved it. Before I was a mile into my run, I knew this was the best idea I’d had in a long time. In such a very busy, confusing, amazingly awesome yet oh-so-stressful at times past month, I needed this. Running is my drug. It’s a love affair I’ve had since before I was old enough to be in love. I hadn’t gotten to run at all in Asia because we were in such big cities, and I was worried about getting lost/being on my own. I ran a bit during my six days back in the states, but we’ve already covered how jam-packed those days were. Here, though? Here in this tiny German village? Here I could run. I could run for miles. That freedom was exhilarating.
I cannot adequately describe how amazing that run felt. I passed the exit sign at the edge of town and found a bike path (Germans love their bikes). I ran through the woods on this bike path until I came to the sign that said “ende,” and then I kept running. I ran into the next tiny village over, and then I kept running. I ran and ran and watched the sunrise, listened to the roosters crow, and passed by horses, sheep, chickens, and goats. It was the best run I have had in so long – my mind was ready to marathon even if my body wasn’t. It was so good to just plain RUN – not to burn calories, not to train for a race, not to see how far or fast I could go, but just run. I turned off of my trail at one point to go up the side of a large hill. I wanted to see if I could overlook the town. It vaguely registered in the back of my mind that maybe I should turn back soon, as I still had to get back to the hotel, pack my bags, shower, get ready for the day, and eat breakfast all before 9:00. Then I decided that I didn’t need breakfast that badly, so I kept running. Shortly after, I decided that make-up and blow dried hair aren’t that important and that I could just rinse off in the shower. I kept running. I got to the top of the hill where there were breathtaking views of the fields and the provincial villages below. I momentarily wished I’d brought my phone to take pictures, but I immediately rescinded my wish. The best part about running is that I’m free from everything – no phones, no cameras, no notebooks…just me, the road, and the master key tied into the laces of my Asics (check out my last post for details on that one). I was exhausted by the top of the hill, so I decided to sit down by the edge of a corn field. I briefly wondered if I was trespassing, but there were no signs anywhere and the town was just waking up. No one would notice me. Also, people in Germany are incredibly friendly and also don’t have guns, so I wasn’t worried about a farmer shooting me. I watched some stray cats hunt in a field. I laid down under a tree and watched clouds for a while. The thing about running is that no matter how much is cluttering up my mind, a long enough run will clear the fog. Always. I was so at peace by that corn field under that tree. I could have stayed there forever.
At one point, a fox about a dozen yards away stepped into the clearing to look at me curiously. It reminded me that I was in his world, not in mine (lucky fox). In my world, I had to get back to the hotel. I reluctantly gave up my post by the tree and started back down the hill.
As I ran through the town, the people were starting to begin their days. Children were standing by a bus stop. I wished them a cheerful “Morgen!” (I correctly assumed that this was an acceptable abbreviation of “Guten Morgen,” similar to how Americans say “morning” instead of “good morning” sometimes.) I only had enough breath for one word, so that’s what they got. The children waved back and wished me “morgen” as well. I ran back by the corn fields and the wheat fields and the goats and the cats, and I was seriously sad to be going back. I’d run a long way, and especially after running no more than two miles at a time for the past month, my body started to get unhappy with me. My shins started first, then my ankles and hips started to hurt. It was the kind of shooting pain that my cross country coach and later on my husband would have said, “You need to stop running if…” but I kept running for two reasons:
1. I was so in love with this run – the best possible literal and figurative breath of fresh air – that I would have given anything to make it last one more mile (or even just one more kilometer, if you want to pretend to be German).
2. I had no idea what time it was, and I didn’t want to be late. I had briefly considered asking the school children about the time before I realized that I had no idea how to do that even if I wanted to. I’d lost track of time running through the towns and getting up the hill, so I was running for the love of it but also out of necessity at this point.
I will admit that I wasn’t too worried about injuring myself, because I knew that Rex could tell me how to fix anything if I messed up my legs. He hates when I say stuff like that, ha ha. He always tells me, “I’m not as smart as you think I am…I know a couple magic tricks that seem to fix people’s backs and necks, but that’s it.” We’ve been in enough random situations where he fixes people’s injuries that I know he’s smart, though, so EXCUSE ME while I enjoyed having full confidence that Rex could tell me how to fix whatever I messed up. Therefore I kept running.
I finally got back to the hotel, got ready for the day, and literally put my bag on the bus as the town’s clock tower struck nine. Perfect timing. It was the best possible morning, and I am so glad that I didn’t waste it on sleep. Now we’re enjoying an hour break in our castle rooms (yes, we’re staying in a literal castle) before our next meeting starts in fifteen minutes. More later – today has been great so far.