Alive

Day 3 of #reverb10: Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

In addition to being awake this year, I’ve felt more alive than ever. I set out for a long run this afternoon with the prompt churning in my head (and quickly ran 8 miles instead of the 6 I intended).

The strongest “alive” moment happened on Memorial Day, as I was nearing the end of the Elgin Fox Trot, my very first 5k. It was an oppressively hot, sticky humid morning, even at 7 AM. On previous days like that, I’d delayed my run until the evening cool down, but I was so excited for that race. I stopped for water at both aid stations and drank it down, dribbling water over my chin and shirt as I realized I’ve never tried to drink while running. The water clung to my shirt and made it feel heavier and damp.

Fortunately, most of the route was through a historic neighborhood with large, mature trees lining the streets, providing some very welcome shade.

But as we came to the end, running downhill, down the middle of Douglas Street where it crosses Kimball – usually a very busy intersection I’d never crossed without waiting for the light – the trees ended and we were thrust into the full, glaring blaze of the sun. Right at that point, we passed the three mile marker. Both sides of the street were lined with thick crowds, cheering that we were almost there, so close, just another tenth of a mile. The crowds surged as we truly raced downhill towards the finish line, just a tenth of a mile, less than that, and I got caught up in it and ran like I had never run during my two paltry months of training. My heart pounded nearly as hard as my feet were slamming into the hot, steaming asphalt, and I tasted the salty sweat streaming down my face. I took longer strides than my short legs had ever been capable of, and I felt like I was flying. Just a tenth of a mile, then a twentieth where I saw my parents, beaming, then the finish was in sight. I ran, pushing myself to the end, and I wanted to cry. The fat kid was finishing a 5k on a hot, humid May day, just two months after running my first quarter mile in a decade.

I must have smiled for the next six hours. And that is why I run – to reclaim that feeling, to feel the blood pulsing through my veins, to know that, with discipline, hard work, and focus, I can finish what I started.

There have been other moments this year where I was acutely aware of being alive, awake and in control of my life.

The February morning I spent wading in the cold, gray Pacific in Coronado, CA when I made some very big decisions stands out. I can still feel the sand between my toes, which felt strangely free after months of being confined by the boots of a Chicago winter. I can taste the sangria I drank at a little cafe after that walk, and taste the fresh cilantro I ate with the fish tacos at that same cafe. I can see the Hotel Del Coronado lurking in the background, as it has for a century, the sunlight reflecting off the red roof and spoiling the pictures I tried to take. I can hear the quiet, how all noises were overruled by the ocean as the waves crashed into the shore. There were almost no people around, just a few kids playing and a woman sketching.

Or the August night when I biked to Wing Park for a concert with friends, laying in the grass on a blanket, staring up at the sunset as I sipped the wine we drank from water bottles, letting the music wash over me as I closed my eyes. As I left the park that night – after I turned down rides offered because of the ominous clouds closing in – the skies opened and it poured. I got drenched. The warm rain cool on my skin, and I got goosebumps as I brushed the strings of hair out of my face and wrung out the green tank top I wore. I raced down Edison Street towards home, splashing through puddles with abandon so my brakes no longer worked, and felt ALIVE.

There are other moments, which is a good dilemma to have. I would be worried if I had no moments of true life in  a single year.

How about you? When did you feel ALIVE in 2010?

This post is part of #Reverb10, a month-long project to reflect on the year nearly gone. Read all my #Reverb10 posts, or learn more.

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9 responses to “Alive

  1. I like this post! Good writing. Is it sad I can’t think of any examples?! ha!

  2. Yay! Congrats on your 5k and your new passion for running! We’ll see how far I can push myself into running without breaking myself again. I may always be a walker first and a runner second … but who knows? I’m excited to find out.

    Good luck with your reverb10!

  3. i definitely feel alive during races. so much adrenaline. good for you for starting!

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