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Every once in a (rare) while, I want to run outside. I want to lace up my sneakers, put on some comfortable clothing, and take off. Arms pumping, feet pounding, heart thumping--I want all of that. So I go and do it. It feels good. It is exhilarating and envigorating, and it makes me feel like I'm five years old again. It's almost as good as rolling down a grassy hill. It makes me feel alive in every fiber of my being, and for as long as I can run, that feeling remains. I will admit, though that something about it does suck at first. I mean, it takes a lot more energy than I normally extend in everyday activities (read: reading and typing). But I do find a rhythm before too long, and then it's easier and I am free to think and feel about things other than my legs hitting the pavement or gravel path. I run for as long as it is enjoyable (no divulging how long that is), then I walk a bit and take off running again. I keep up this running/walking thing until I get too bored or tired to continue.

I got such a running feeling this morning. When I first got up, it was raining outside, so instead of running, I went back to bed. Later in the morning, though, I went for a very nice jog in the Union Bay Natural Area, which is on the University of Washington campus, which is where the 30th annual CAJE conference is, which is where I am. The "natural area" is fairly small, and some students and others from UW are working on restoring it by planting native trees and shrubs, and by mowing down the non-native blackberry plants that are suffocating the native plants. The area is, not surprisingly, on Union Bay, which I got a glimpse of a few times along the trail. It smelled like wet mulch, which is not an altogether bad smell. There was an area that looked like it had been burnt on purpose, and that wasn't a great smell, but overall, it was fantastic. On the way back, I picked some plump, juicy, shiny blackberries off of a bush and ate them. Yum!

Even less frequently than that running feeling, I decide that I want to be a runner--a person who can just pick up and run, anytime, anywhere. Although I had a flurry of running activity during college (sophomore year? junior?) I've never been a runner for very long, because it always ends up hurting my knees or my shins. I once asked a doctor about it, and she unhelpfully said, "Sometimes exercise hurts." So I stopped. Also, there is no pleasure in running when the weather is bad, which, in Boston, is more often than not. It would take a fair amount of hard work to get into good enough shape to be able to run regularly, and sometimes, I feel like it isn't worth it, because there are so many times when I don't have any desire to run at all. During times when I've been in shape, I've combined running with less-painful forms of exercise, like the eliptical machine, stairmaster, and bike. When I'm into exercise, I like doing it all, but running does have a certain special appeal. It can really be exhilarating. Part of me really wants to get in shape enough to be a runner. Someone who can run. For more than, like, seven minutes.

I don't know that I'll ever be a runner, though, because when I see runners pounding the pavement, I often think they're a bit crazy. Maybe that's part of what's appealing about it.


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