The Connection Runners + [training run]

The Anonymity of Running

It was too early on a Saturday morning. With the sun rising behind me, I pulled my Brooks hat low and trudged on in a never-ending chase to catch my dubious shadow. Gangster rap, rife with bitches and hoes, blared cautionary tales into my eardrums as I made a mental note to always bring my AK, no matter how good the day seemed.

At first I was alone on the path, alone and terrified that a bear, a deer, a carnivorous spider - something utterly terrifying - might leap out onto my course, interrupting my miles and ending my too-short life.

Other than a gnat or two, though, I was safe in the quiet stillness, the rhythm of Mizunos on asphalt keeping time for the song that was Long Run Saturday.

I was that tool taking a photo of her shadow midrun. All in the name of good blogging, right?

Soon enough, tiny dots speckled the horizon; they came as singletons and packs, all moving with the familiar telltale bounce of A Runner. I could almost smell the sweat and taste the Gu, and I wondered where they came from and how far they were going.

Since I'd come from the opposite direction, my course eventually collided with theirs, and I passed each person feeling briefly as though I'd known them forever. A quick nod, a flick of the hand, a curt smile between breaths - for a hot second, we were best friends brought together by a mutual understanding of otherwise unknown griefs like runner's trots and inner thigh chafing.

And then, as quick as the flip of our wrists, our eyes narrowed and our arms swung faster, and we each resumed our own quests as Conquistadors of the Miles.
We were once again anonymous.

I continued on in my own mission to hit 20 miles that day, and for the three hours and 17 minutes I ran, I reveled in the glory of being without a name, a number, an occupation, or a salary. Temporarily, I left behind a kaleidoscope of responsibility: mortgage accounts, grocery lists, retirement plans, toxic diaper changes, Pinterest boards, unvacuumed floors.
I was just a runner trotting along the path, betrothed to nothing and nobody except the miles.
And it felt pretty fantastic.

When there's no other reason to run, I run for the anonymity. To be in the middle of the pack, or with the elites up front, or among the runners near the back - it doesn't really matter. For the length of the race or the hours on the path, I'm not compelled to meet anyone's expectations save for my own. It's a freedom not often granted in other areas of life, so even in the too early hours of a Saturday morning, I savor it like a cold beer at the end of a race and hope that every other runner out at that time is doing so, too.