Running in a Circle? I Totally Got This February 17 2012
Have you guys seen this?
I like the last one. It basically sums up a) why I started running and b) why I avoid the hurdles. While I find Prefontaine especially inspiring, the real reason I started running has a lot more to do with my ineptitude at other sports than any real running talent. Let me explain.
Sitting on a rooftop in Bethlehem one night, looking out over Jerusalem in the distance and enjoying a bottle of the worst wine known to mankind, my friend lights a cigarette and asks why I run.
Given that I had taken to hitting the road at 5:00 a.m. in order to get a run in before the desert heat made even breathing uncomfortable, her query appears far more rational than my running habit.
Taking a sip out of a chipped plastic cup, I consider my answer.
When the call to prayer ricochets off of the hills and reverberates through my apartment at dawn, why don't I just pull the cover over my head like everyone else? What possesses me to lace up my running shoes and join the ranks of the devout, albeit for a completely different kind of prayer?
I try to explain that I love the quiet that hovers over the hills in the early morning stillness. I love the sound of my running shoes slapping down on the pavement and I love greeting the day at the top of a hill, my heart racing, and sweat beading on my skin. When these words tumble out of my mouth, none of it makes any sense. Running has become so habitual that I realize it's easier to answer why I started rather than why I can't stop.
It was in junior high. Despite my general athletic prowess, I'm not good at sports involving extraneous objects. I have this annoying habit of ducking whenever anyone throws or kicks anything at me, and while this is a completely rational response, it discourages participation in most sports available to junior high girls. After I had exhausted volleyball, basketball, softball, and soccer, my Dad suggested that I try track and field, stressing the "track" component of that phrase. I think he was concerned I would attempt the javelin.
I considered it carefully. "So, all I have to do is run in a circle?"
"Yep. That's it."
"And nobody throws anything at me?"
And that was that. I signed up for track the next day and for over 15 years, I've run with a religious fervor matching that of the devoted Christians, Muslims, and Jews populating Jerusalem's surrounding hills.
I've traveled all over the world, lived in five countries, and everywhere I go, my running shoes go with me. Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, France, Switzerland, and Germany my running shoes have seen the streets of them all and then some. So when I found myself in the West Bank, I didn't question whether or not I would run. It was just a question of how and where. And this is what I told my friend that night. "It's a habit, an addiction. Just like your damn cigarette, I can't give it up, even if I wanted to."
She tilts her head and laughs. "Just like my damn cigarette?"
Looking at me out of the corner of her eye, she says "I don't know. It makes your thighs too big."
I consider this. She twirls an unlit cigarette in her fingers. "So you started running because you weren't good at anything else?'
We sit in silence for a few more minutes. I stare down at my legs.
"Really, it makes my thighs too big?"
She pours me another glass of wine and shrugs. "Don't worry, habibti. Some men like that."