23 June 2009

I hate running. Ask anyone who knows me well enough, and they’ll tell you. I’m a B student in the department of physical education and got a C- on my last running test in school. Running is exhausting. Running makes you sweat. Running is annoying. Running is dreadful, and my sedentary lifestyle is not accustomed to such a behaviour. However, three weeks into my summer vacation, I am unfit and am afraid of gaining too much weight by August, or, God forbid, October.

Today I woke up at 4:51am, changed out of my pajamas, and went for a run.

At 4:55 in the morning, my neighbourhood is quiet. The drunk guys at the end of the road have drifted off to sleep, the school buses haven’t quite arrived to bring the little buggers to school, and, in the darkness of pre-sunrise, the streets remain to be illuminated by streetlamps. In the absence of the sun, there is no heat, and there is the illusion of a slight chill in the still air.

I picked up my pace by the time I got to the next street. I turned right, and I would run the rectangular course of one block with, I believe, a perimeter of 500 metres. I finished my first lap easy. I’m no fan of the entire idea, but during the first 200 metres, I felt a surreal thrill that I had never felt before.

The air was cool against my skin, and for a while I felt like I could go on like this forever, at least for a fairly long time. It was my first time in almost a year since I had been through this particular path in my neighbourhood; I didn’t leave the house much unless it was a Sunday morning and I was going to church. There was an unrealistic calm in the streets at the time. Even through my second lap the streets remained still, tinted blue by the gradually lightening sky and lit by the subtle glow of each streetlamp. There were few signs of activity at this point, save for two or three houses getting an early start for the day.

As I entered my third lap, I had lost track of time. The neighbourhood was slowly coming back to life. It was an interesting sight to watch, one that I hadn’t really noticed before. From the nothingness of sleep, it was as if everything was happening at the same time. I ran past the vans coming to pick up kids for school, past drivers and day-maids coming to work for the day, past streetlamps as they shut off one at a time.

Of course, since I’m no athlete, this was the part where I get tired, but not exhausted. I decide to make another round. Besides, it was an interesting experience. As I continued to run, though my pace had slackened, I thought to myself, well here’s something to write about. I ran through a fourth lap and walked through a fifth to cool down. I passed women coming out early in the morning to sweep their front porches. The streetlights were almost all out.

I got home, soaked in sweat. I drank water, ate breakfast, took a shower and went to sleep. I didn’t wake up until noon.


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