Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last Run of 2008

The celebration of New Year's Eve has always been somewhat elusive to me. Maybe it's because growing-up, my family celebrated with just the four of us - an intimate evening of snacking, movies and a glass of sparkling cider at midnight. Or maybe it's because by the time New Year's Eve comes around, I'm completely exhausted from the excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Either way, I would be just as happy to ring in the New Year in my pajamas than in a glittery ensemble.

But, this year, pajamas were not an option; at least, not until after midnight. Mike and I were headed out on the town to ring in 2009. I was completely fine with this plan until my uber feminine side kicked-in: I had absolutely nothing to wear.

Tuesday night looked like a tornado had torn through my closet and drawers - none of my tops would do. How could I possibly ring in a New Year in old clothes?! Absolutely unacceptable.

So, I spent my lunch hour Wednesday battling the snowy weather and trying clothes on at four different stores. I returned empty-handed and completely frustrated. But at 3 PM, our team received a little gift - we could leave work for the day! I practically sprinted to the fifth store of the day. I left an hour later, still empty handed and now more upset than frustrated.

I headed to the gym to squeeze in my run for the day. All ready to go - except for one crucial item: I had forgotten to pack my sports bra! I didn't have an option here, I had to go home and get it. But, by the time I could get back to the gym, I wouldn't have time to get in my run - the gym was closing at 5 PM for the holiday.

I left in a huff. Nothing had gone according to plan. I didn't find anything to wear and I couldn't get in my run. The last thing I wanted to do that night was go celebrate. I had wanted Mike to be wowed by my outfit - instead he would be going with a girl in an outfit he had seen a thousand times before.

On my way home, reeling about the awful day, I noticed it was still light outside. I looked at my watch - 4:15 PM. I had 30 minutes before the sun started setting. I knew I couldn't make it back to the gym in time, but I could at least squeeze in a little run outside, even if it was snowy and cold.

I quickly changed, strapped on my iPod and watch and was out the door. I hadn't planned on which route I was doing, but my feet were taking me towards Central Park. It's exactly one mile from my front door to the Central Park entrance on 90th. This first mile was filled with all of the usual characteristics - dashing across cross-walks, dodging oblivious pedestrians and, of course, doubting my intelligence to run on such a miserable day.

As soon as I entered the Park, I was met with something I had never experienced there - solitude. The paths were still completely blanketed in snow and ice. There wasn't another runner to be found on the entire loop - just the occasional couple hugging each other close. Suddenly, a wave of comfort warmed my earlier disposition (but unfortunately not my legs). I took off my headphones to better hear the silence, giddy at the sound of fresh snow crunching under my sneakers.

I stared a moment longer than usual at the beautiful views of the Midtown skyline, imagining the chaos surrounding Times Square and sinking further into my unexpectedly relaxing run. I began thinking about how much had really changed in my life during the past year. I felt proud of my accomplishments and thought of the many things I had yet to accomplish. I thought about how much I missed my family.

I remembered all the doubt Mike and I both carried about living together and how, after 8 months, our relationship was stronger than ever. Suddenly, I realized I had been far too concerned about looking amazing for Mike for just one night. Our relationship was way past appearances at this point.

And then, I thought about me. That's the beauty of running - no one ever has to know if you are being selfish. I felt like I had learned more about myself in the past year than ever before. I had accomplished some pretty significant milestones - graduating college, moving away from home, paying my first bills. I also had lots of things I had yet to accomplish. Lots of things are bound to change in the future, but now I better know my strengths and weaknesses and am prepared for those changes to happen.

Before I realized it, it was dark and I was back at my front door. I didn't even look at my watch to calculate my splits; somehow a number seemed insignificant. I had just
enough time to jump in the shower before I got dinner together. Mike came home, likely prepared to find a second tornado had touched-down in the bedroom. But it was just me, stretching quietly in a semi-neat room.

"Did you find an outfit?" he asked nervously.

"No, I went for a run," I answered as I began stretch my quads.

He leaned over and kissed me, sweaty face and all. "Good," he replied. As lovely as the kiss would be at midnight, he had no idea how much more this one meant to me.

As I peeled the many sweaty layers of running gear from my frozen body, I thought about how I had never been at such peace with myself. Now that I had reflected on myself during the past year, I was ready to welcome the uncertainty and excitement of 2009.

And, yes, an outfit I already owned suddenly worked just perfectly for the evening.

1 comment:

  1. Seems that my kisses may not be as sweet, however a huge Daddy hug after a hard fought field hockey game always felt nice :)


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