I love to run. I love the fact that I can run anywhere at anytime. I love that I only need a pair of running shoes and I’m set to go. No equipment, no field, no one else required. When I run and how is completely up to me.
I started running before my first year of high school when I tried out for the cross country team. I had just been cut from volleyball, and figured I would experiment with another sport before surrendering myself to dull afternoons of homework. I could barely finish a mile at try outs, but somehow I made the team, and haven’t stopped since.
When I come home to Annapolis, one of my favorite runs is along the perimeter of the Naval Academy. My team used to run this route on Thursdays, our LSD – long, slow distance – day of cross country, encircling the Yard, then crossing over and back on the Severn River Bridge and ending up at the St. John’s hill – 11 miles in all. It was tough, but so beautiful that no one complained.
The Naval Academy sits right on the river, and running around it puts you along the water’s edge the whole way. I pass the sea wall, a row of huge rocks on the river’s banks next to Farragut Field. There’s usually a game or practice on the field, whether football, lacrosse or soccer. And the row of pull-up bars on the sidelines always presents a daunting challenge. I struggle to finish even one real pull-up.
Then I run by the navy blue sailboats, perfectly aligned in a long row, their masts reaching high into the blue abyss of sky. Pass the track, cross the narrow, wooden foot bridge that arches over Dorsey Creek, and then around Hospital Point. Back over on Hill Bridge, go around Worden Field, the parade grounds, where at certain times of year the berries fallen from the trees smell just like puke – why is that? And out of Gate 3 to Maryland Avenue. Walking along the right side of the brick-layered street there, I always find myself re-enacting the scene from Patriot Games where Harrison Ford is nearly gunned down while getting into his car in that exact spot. Patriot Games is probably one of my top 20, maybe top 15 movies of all time.
In the past, I’ve made it my mission not to let any of the midshipmen – or anyone else for that matter – pass me on my runs. These days, though, I run for myself. On good days, I’ll hold my gaze on whoever is ahead of me, and eventually catch up to them. Other times, I just go at my own pace, and let that blur of pink or blue or whatever it may be go ahead. Tomorrow I’ll reach them, I’ll be the blur.