Thunder crashes above me as I shut my front door. I glance at my watch, and up at the clouds, and determine that I’ve got just enough time to finish my run before the worst hits. I reset my heart rate monitor, allow it to capture the information it needs, and set off at a brisk walk.
The air smells heavy. I notice the honeysuckle beginning to bloom, catch the sight of light lavender wisteria, too. Spring is here, and I want to soak up every minute.
The voice from my phone, my virtual coach, tells me to begin to increase my pace. I take a deep breath, fill my lungs with air, and then start to run. My feet slap the pavement at an even tempo. I concentrate on lengthening my strides, landing on the balls of my feet, keeping my head up and my breathing even. Four in, four out, four in, four out. The rhythm is still new to me, yet I revel in its comfort.
A flash of blue out of the corner of my eye and I look over just in time to see a blue jay land on a low tree limb. He watches me jog by, then flits off into the woods, searching for shelter from the coming storm. Just as he disappears into the green, a bolt of lightning snakes across the sky. I hold my breath, count the seconds: 1, 2, 3, 4…CRASH. The storm is getting closer. And I’ve still got a mile to go.
I follow the instructions given to me by my pocket coach. Sweat begins to trickle down the back of my neck. My calves are beginning to strain in protest. My left foot feels like it’s beginning to go to sleep. I have a slight cramp creeping up my right side. And still, I press on. I have to remind myself to breathe. Four in, four out, four in, four out. The flowers, the birds, the storm all melt into the background. It’s just me, the pavement, the movement, and breathing.
As I round the corner, a fat raindrop lands on the ground in front of me. It soaks into the blacktop as I jog past. A few seconds later, another falls, this one smacking me square in the face. I wipe it away, check my heart rate, and pull out my phone to check my stats. Half a mile to go. And I decide to power through.
One or two raindrops turn to ten, twenty, hundreds. As the rain touches earth, the smell of green fills my lungs. I take off my glasses, shove them into my pocket, because covered in water they are useless to me. I lift my face to the sky, letting the rain wash over my hot skin, and a laugh escapes from my throat. In a moment, I am a child again, playing in the rain, and I delight in it.
It doesn’t take long for the bottom to drop out. The rain pelts me in sheets. I cannot hear my pocket coach over the pounding of the heavy droplets onto the road and trees around me. My finish line is within sight, and I take a huge breath and sprint. My lungs scream for air, my calves weep with pain. As I duck beneath the awning over my front door, race complete, I feel exhausted, more-than-winded, sore.
And absolutely fulfilled.