The Extra Mile

There is comfort in routine. In following in one’s own footsteps along a familiar path. In knowing by heart the markers of your miles, and what’s beyond a curve that would be blind if not for the unnumbered times you’ve run it.

Five nights ago, I slept for the first time in my new home. Where all of my belongings now share space with the contingencies I wrote more than two months ago into my offer to purchase: corners free of hidden bottles, a loving separation, a family whose whole exceeds its parts, and a place where I can visit the best of what was.

Even though when I go there, I grieve. For the stability I couldn’t provide my family, for the companionship of Swenny. For the friends who didn’t stay the course, and for the runs where I’ll be now a guest on the path that was once home.

In the weeks leading to my move, a combination of bad weather and exhaustion kept me from taking final strides there before sending my starting line two miles east. To a neighborhood I once knew but never as a runner.

Knowing I needed to become acquainted, before changing my address, I ran to and through the zip code where my mail is now sorted. From my old front door, I traveled twenty-one descending blocks before making a right on my new street and then left to the park that will now house my runs. From a busy corner, I climbed a short and steep hill, and from its crest, looked down to a bandshell where neighbors gather for evening concerts. Behind it is a lagoon shaded by weeping willows and fishermen. Two bridges provide passage over it, and stacked kayaks edge its shore. It’s urban and dense, and I couldn’t stretch the paths to the distance I wanted.

So at 5.34 miles, I called time on my run. With a sightseeing pace of 10.11, I turned off my watch content to have connected a part of the route I know best with the one I will learn to love. As I find the extra miles that initially eluded me, I’ll master the scale of each hill and the degree of every turn. Eventually, I’ll know the mark of every mile and what they hold. And when time and circumstances allow, I’ll return to the paths that made me a runner, and use the extra miles to take me home.

“Whatever you may be missing right now – a person, a place, a feeling, maybe you are injured and missing running – whatever it is, have peace and take heart – remember that any goodbye makes room for a hello.” 
― Kristin Armstrong