Most of the people who run with me know I am totally into the headphones. I take them along on group runs, for those quieter miles (usually 17 plus), and I even wear them in races — I know, I know. I am so impure. But believe it or not, I go through stages where I ditch the headphones altogether. I’m in one right now. It usually happens when I am not training for anything in particular and I just want to run. And think. And calm the chatter in my head.
Let me inject that I feel particularly grateful about how good I am feeling following my recent marathon effort. Though the $300 inserts the doc gave me to treat plantar fasciitis are unbearable, it seems a folded-up sock stuffed into the inside of my shoe, at the arch, just under the heal, has given me tremendous relief. I’m not recommending this as a treatment; it just works for me. But I digress.
The point is, I went for a run just to run. I didn’t bother with headphones not because I didn’t want music, but because I wanted to run with no gadgetry whatsoever. No watch either — the watch equals stress for me. And I need no more stress right now.
The purpose of headphones for me, for a long time, has been self defense, a barrier between other people and me: at 18 I learned that headphones deter people who want to small talk at the gym or who are looking for a sweaty date. Running alone, headphones blocked the catcalls and honking horns. (I think some men would holler at an 80 year old woman pushing a walker, so I am not bragging). They’ve become a safety blanket that I am able to let go at times these days.
So when I head out tonight I endure a couple of startling honks, but eventually it became quiet, except for the barking dogs. As I headed north into Richardson, I passed moms pushing strollers and women walking the trails in twos. Each hello and nod of the head put me in a better mood.
As I ran the last couple miles back through the hood — the low rent North Lake Highlands area at twilight (I do this partly out of stubbornness, I think, because it’s a documented high crime area, but it’s also the only route home) — a man at the bus stop smiled and called me a “marathon winner” and I passed a girl who was singing beautifully, and a few seconds later I passed a boy singing too. He was walking toward the girl and I imagined I was in the middle of a Broadway musical — that the two were about to meet and commence a West Side Story-esque duet. I smiled what must have looked like a psychotic smile. It was the happiest I’ve been all day.
Running is my drug. It’s my glass of wine at the end of a trying day. Luckily, as the hallucinations set in, my eight mile run came to an end and I was off the streets.