35. Another Loop

35. Another Loop

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You

Another Loop

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out
they’ve got a second.
 ~William James

My jeans zipper just slid down. I’m not kidding. I am sitting on the couch and my pants just undid themselves. I am on a two-week vacation in Paris and I think a week and a half is all my body can take of carbohydrate wonderland. I add “eat a salad for lunch” to my to-do list. Before my pants rudely interrupted me, I was reading the back of the Nutella jar searching for a 1-800 number. I think I need to admit myself to the Nutella Overeaters Anonymous club. I have demolished eight jars of Nutella in the past 11 days and I have no desire to stop. It is a milk-chocolate hazelnut spread that the French use like peanut butter. I imagine it is supposed to be used sparingly but I don’t seem to understand this concept. My body doesn’t seem to care either. In fact it is the one that tells me to go buy more. It knows I will sign up for another triathlon, half marathon or century ride, and the weight will balance out. In fact my body is delighted I am treating it to such a reward. Even still, I cannot take it anymore, I did not come to Paris to sit, and so I dig out my running shoes and go for a light jog.

My goal today is 20 minutes. Any workout is better than none, right? If I can at least keep this going for approximately two miles then I can call it a day. As I am huffing down the street I try not to concentrate on the torture I am inflecting on myself. I realize that running is by far the best metaphor for life. Sometimes it is fun, effortless and rewarding; other times it is pure abuse and agony. Today my calves feel like lead. I think all the chocolate and cheese has molded together and formed a hard rock in my body. As torturous as this is, I know I must keep pushing through. I am approaching the 20-minute mark, and I tell myself to go around one more time. I relocated to Montmartre a few days ago. So my new running path is around the outside of the Montmartre Cemetery. Once around the outside, which is what I call the loop, is a little more than a mile. It takes me about 10 minutes to run all the way around. So I tell myself to go around one more time and then I can quit.

As I turn the corner, there is a young man who looks up and smiles at me. He sprints to catch up and jogs along with me for a few moments. He has a giant goofy grin, which in return produces a silly grin on my face. He says a few words in French. I just point to my earphones to show I am listening to music, so that I won’t have to reveal that I don’t speak French. I am enchanted with this young man. He is running along with a perfect stranger just for the fun of it. I decide to make him my running angel. He is here to entertain me and keep me smiling as I push myself on this run.

I look down at my watch and realize I have been running for 55 minutes. For the past half hour I have been so engrossed in the moment that I actually forgot I was running. I have taken a measly 20-minute run and turned it into a strong 60-minute workout.

~Shannon Kaiser

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