Starting to run was not a big decision. We were at the place, and Martha, my father’s wife, had brought a magazine that I would never open if she wasn’t lying on the couch. On the cover, an ad for a list: Fifty reasons to run. The reasons were so good that I decided to give it a chance and hide the sedentary flag that I had been flying daily since I was a teenager.
Among the reasons that hooked me, those who said that a pair of sneakers was enough and running would fit into my puerperal life, it would make me feel better and it would even help me to fit back into my clothes that the 30 kilos acquired during pregnancy confined to the closet bottom.
I started, in the square near my house. I didn’t have enough lung to jog around the block, so I’d walk one block and run one. The following week, two. Then three. Then the whole block, and I increased the turns, between feedings of my first child.
It didn’t taste good, but it did make me come home feeling better. Until, when I managed to exceed the twelve minutes for the first time without alternating with walking, magic happened.
A wave of pleasure surged through my body, sudden, intense, and it made me stop looking at the clock and count the laps to, on the contrary, start bargaining with myself: just one more. Just one more lap feeling the sweat dripping deliciously, just one more, and I’m back to my life, to my son who is waiting for me at home.
Back and forth, I increased the pace and resistance until I realized that I had reached a meditative state, which I began to need on a daily basis.
One late afternoon, filled with anguish, I decided to run around the square. I had just separated and was once again subject to the cruel market of affections. I put David Bowie on my headphones and sweated away the anguish, not paying much attention to the distance covered, running until I said enough.
I did the math at the end: it was thirteen kilometers. I wrote to Martha telling her. Her response: cool, you can now train for a half marathon.
So it was. A few months later, my father, my sister, my son and Martha were waiting for me on the happy arrival of the 21 kilometers on the coast of Rio de Janeiro. I had just turned 30, and maybe that’s why my body had put up with all that without complaining and without me having done a single weight training exercise.
But the next test did not go well. In the last training session before São Silvestre, a small hook in the groin. I didn’t pay much attention, even if a little pain appeared even when I walked. And there I was, on December 31st, among the crowd on Paulista.
On the way down Pacaembu, right at the beginning, the pain intensified and got worse kilometer by kilometer. I remember looking at the eighth sign and regretting that there were still seven to go, not because of fatigue, I wanted that tiredness, but the pain that assaulted me with each step of my left leg prevented me from reaching it.
Passers-by who were cheering excitedly, trying to cheer up the shuffling runners, began to irritate me: it wasn’t lack of momentum, I couldn’t go any faster.
Three days later, when I got the MRI result, I was surprised by my inability to stop: I had fractured my hip bone from stress.
Giving up was not among the possibilities available to me, I hadn’t even thought about it, which was more than an indication of my difficulty in accepting limits, including those of my own body.
It would have been simple, to interrupt the test, and I would have avoided the enormous pain that prevented me from walking to my house, from even standing up to take a shower. How does one end a race in these conditions? What disrespect for myself and lack of sense was that?
My hip was never the same again. I didn’t run for years, and every time I tried, something hurt. That day threw my body off balance somehow forever.
A few months ago, I got up the courage again, but first I enrolled in a gym — age does, after all, bring some learning. After a few weeks, I started to trot. Ah, when I got to twelve minutes. Only one more. Only one more.
Now, victory is not about increasing time or distance, but running without pain. Run so you can keep running. In order to continue enjoying the meditative state in which I make good decisions, in which I have ideas for texts, in which I even thought about writing this one.
That state of magical sweat that then returns me to my life, the same life, but which becomes completely different. David Bowie in headphones. The problems there, but dissolved, smaller, maybe then the right size. And the awareness that my body is always, at the same time, my treasure and the possibility of my tragedy.